Guest Blog: How Losing My Religion Paved The Way For My Spirituality

image1-3Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

As a child I had a lot of questions about God, especially how a loving God could allow horrible things to happen. My family was very religious, and not always open to discussions. My father was not only a Pastor, but also the head of a Mission team. Church was mandatory and I went. My father had a vision and God directed him to go to Cuzco, Peru. We spent 7 years overseas building churches. I really didn’t understand church or the God I learned about in my childhood, but I wanted to please those around me, so I stifled my questions and opinions.

I can remember that early on I did not understand how a loving God could condemn people to Hell. Especially those who had never had the opportunity to join our religion. As I got older in my teens I felt that if God was love how could he condemn certain groups like homosexuals to hell. No one would choose to be hated and stigmatized the way they did.

In my teen years, I rebelled against God. The God of my childhood was not someone I wanted in my life. I held him accountable for many of the bad things I had seen and that had happened to me. I had experienced a terrible betrayal in my early teen years. A pastor had abused me sexually. I hated God after this. I felt he had betrayed me at a time when I needed him most. This is when I turned to anything and everything that would take away the pain. This started with an eating disorder and eventually led to drugs, and alcohol.

Struggling To Find My Own Higher Power

In the beginning I attempted to get sober by attending 12-step meetings, one thing became apparent. Individuals who had healthy long term sobriety had one common feature. All had created a healthy spirituality. I was unable to maintain sobriety in a 12-step only setting and decided after 6 months to go to treatment. While in treatment I had a moment where I surrendered to a higher power. This was the turning point for me.

Initially I gave church and my “home” religion a second chance. This went on for about six months, and I thought everything was okay. Deep down inside though, I wasn’t being true to myself. Once again it had become about pleasing others and looking good on the outside.

I realized this wasn’t working for me. I was turning my spirituality into a list of rules of what I could and could not do. I was using shame as a method of measuring my worth as a person. I couldn’t live like that and no one should have too. Working with my sponsor I was encouraged to consider creating my own conception of a “higher power”. I began to explore this and I began to feel freedom from shame and guilt. I finally felt that I was beginning to following my truth. The truth I had glimpsed in childhood.

I talked to other people about their spirituality. I experimented. I got quiet. I started to follow my heart instead of my head. I began a daily practice of prayer and meditation. Gradually, I started to feel a connection. Granted, I wasn’t entirely sure what that connection was to, exactly, but I found that it didn’t matter. I had reignited my lost curiosity, and I found a lot of satisfaction in exploring and contemplating what spirituality meant for me. The God I found was Love, pure love.

The Most Important Thing About My Higher Power Is That It’s Loving, And It’s Not Me

I was told early on that my higher power should be loving. This sounded nice. My religious background had me believing that God was angry, disapproving and rejecting. It took a while for me to understand that a loving higher power would accept me just the way I was.

I had learned to be self-reliant in life and found that I had a really hard time letting go. I had made the decisions in my life. However when I had to look at those decisions I saw that they never took me anywhere good When I called the shots, it never ended well.

Okay, I got it. I needed to learn to have some faith, and not rely solely on myself. I needed to be open and willing to hear what my higher power might be telling me. I found that my God usually talks to me through other people or situations even my daily readings. A Lot of times I don’t really want to hear what is said, but in the end I know that my higher power always has my best interest at heart.

It took time to really feel the spiritual connection I had always been lacking, but once I did, boy did my life change! I had so much more peace and serenity, I had a purpose. The 12-steps gave me the spiritual awakening they promised.

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I Have Found Unconditional Love In My Higher Power

I would now describe my spirituality as “eclectic.” I draw on different elements of religion, spiritual practices and nature for my inspiration. I firmly believe in taking what resonates with you and leaving the rest behind. I know that my higher power wants me to be happy, joyous and free. By letting go of my ingrained beliefs about religion and what a higher power is supposed to be, I opened the door to a higher power that loves me unconditionally.

Having Trouble Connecting With A Higher Power?

I get it, sometimes it takes awhile. If you are struggling, here are some tips I found that worked for me:

– As awkward as it may seem, try praying. I would use the prayers in the twelve step literature, and recite them in the morning, at my sponsor’s suggestion. Although the words didn’t have any particular meaning to me, I genuinely found that my days were better when I did this. I even learned that there is something to getting on your knees, it changes the dynamic for me at least.

– Over time, I found my own alternatives to these, but they are a good place to start.
Meditate. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Sit comfortably, set a timer, even if only for five minutes, and breath. Count your in and out breaths to keep your mind from wandering too much.

– Get out in nature.

– Read different types of spiritual literature. Read about Eastern spirituality, Western, Native, old, new and anything else that intrigues you.Try different things, see what resonates with you. Follow your heart.

– Don’t feel as though you have to “get it right.” Spirituality is a journey and a process, not a destination. It requires daily interaction and is a lifelong process. The relationship you have with your higher power today, will be different tomorrow. Growth is the key.

– Finally, be of service. Service work (any type) is probably one of the single best ways to get in touch with your spiritual side. When you help others with no expectation of reward, you are connected! For me when I help others I feel like I’m high, I know crazy, but it’s true. I’m sure you’ve heard it before it is better to give than to receive.

4 Comments

  1. Beverly Sartain on February 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    I just loved hearing your journey Rose. It’s so different than mine; however I find great value in hearing people’s unique path in recovery. I didn’t grow up with any religious training, however was really connected to spirituality from a young age. A turning point for me was realizing that I’m a spiritual being having a human experience. This principle resonated so strongly with my soul that it changed my behavior, beliefs and identity. I find it so important that we all find our way with recovery, Higher Power and spirituality. I personally call it Higher Self because I believe it’s within and all around me. My inner work was building and cultivating a relationship with my true Self and Higher Self and living my life from that connection. Thank you again for sharing your story. I am sure there are many that can relate to growing up with religion and how that impacts their recovery/healing process. You’ve got tremendous value to share!

  2. Dorinda Flint on February 11, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    I very much enjoyed reading the story of your journey Rose.Thank you for your encouragement, and inspiration Rose.

  3. Wes on February 11, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    This is great, Rose! Thank you for sharing. Religion deeply impacted my path through life. A lot of what religion taught me seemed to bump up against a deeper knowing within me that I hadn’t yet recognized as spirituality. It was incredibly confusing for me and played a large contributing role in the manifestation of my depression, general and social anxiety and avoidant personality disorder. Like Bev, I identified strongly with the paradigm “I’m a spiritual being having a human experience” back when I first heard it in my late teens, early twenties. This was the vague knowing I had had as a child that gave me the strength to persevere through all the confusion and suffering. Its amazing now to be able to honor my past, and all of this, as having been necessary and in service to me stepping into my potential and awakening now in the present.

  4. Rose on February 12, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you Beverly for allowing me this opportunity to share with others my journey and the freedom I found when following my heart!

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