R is for Religion

Religion. A very contentious topic these days. Discussions about religious beliefs can escalate quickly into polarizing viewpoints. Ironic that many religions have peace as a central tenet, and yet so many adherents are unable to find true peace within themselves, or with a difficult neighbor, or with someone of a different faith. Of course, many believers do find peace through their beliefs and their faith.

Me? Not so much. The religious upbringing I had, (and I bless the hearts of those who gave of themselves in the process), taught me way too much about shame and guilt and being defective, and I tried to work with that for a really long time. Finally, I decided that I had had enough shame and guilt and feelings of being defective. And, as the boys of REM sang (with a slightly different meaning), I’m losing my religion. In place of it, I am finding peace.

For years I’ve thought that if you put these two tenets of Christianity together:
1. Man is created in the image of God, and
2. Jesus came to pay the price for the sins of mankind, thereby restoring us to God,
then voila, we could see ourselves as magnificent, beautiful, sufficient.

Strangely enough, I never heard that idea shared in any of the, what, 50 churches I’ve been in, or the multiple camp settings, or the hundreds of Bible studies and groups and meetings. The main message I heard in every one of those places was “YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH.” If it wasn’t that we weren’t praying enough, then we weren’t giving enough, or we weren’t humble enough, or possibly we weren’t grateful enough, not generous enough. Not enough prayer. Not enough.

I’m leaving behind the guilt and shame, and gaining accepting myself, seeing myself as enough, focusing on what IS working instead of what isn’t working.

I’m leaving behind the either/or, and I’m gaining both/and with more enthusiasm, which in turn empowers me to genuinely accept others, and be open to all kinds of people and ideas.

I’m leaving behind the us/them mentality, and I’m gaining a great big YES to all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs.

I’m leaving behind the Thou Shalt Nots, and I’m gaining a peace and freedom in acting in integrity with my beliefs.

photo credit: Lottie Nevin

Most of all I’m leaving behind the idea that I am not enough, and I’m gaining the most marvelous gracious compassion which naturally flows both inward and outward.

What about your experience? What do you think about the phrase, “I am enough?”

 A     E  F  G  H   I  J      N   O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

12 thoughts on “R is for Religion

  1. Actually, I live by the phrase, 'He is enough,' and since I am now associated with Him, I don't have to worry or perform. I'm sorry that your experience with religious teachings was so negative. 😦

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  2. It is so so common that highly religious upbringings leave people feeling like “less than” rather than filled with spirit and light and love. I wish it were otherwise.

    I had a fairly religious upbringing, followed by a couple of decades of no religious interaction. After a major life change in my 30s (divorce), I decided to relook at my religious experiences with a new perspective, and have found a great deal of joy in the God side of life, but still don't embrace organized religion with ease (at all).

    Abraham Lincoln is attributed in saying: When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That is my religion. Pretty simple, but it works for me.

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  3. For me it's the hypocrisy of organized religions that keeps me from embracing any of them. I think the sense of community can be a wonderful thing, but not enough for me to give up the right to think for myself.

    Love the quote from Lincoln that sherilee shared – that's how I feel, too.

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  4. Alleluia… The one positive thing I got our of religion was that god is in us, and that Jesus was a man that taught us we could be like him, not beneath him, have the same powers of healing and capacity to love as he did, not less than. I still get annoyed when people refer to God as a he, it is so much more zen than that – (which basically translates to absorption and enlightenment). We had a great conversation with my bonus child. He believes in God, not sure where from, he was quite defensive about it at first too. I told him what I thought which is that nobody can prove which system is right, they all like their own the best, we both agreed fighting about it was just plain dumb. We found a couple of good cartoons about the history of the religion and the world on youtube which he enjoyed too (they were in Danish so I wont share them but a search will pull up something I am sure.) Another Great article Susan… that must have been some car ride yesterday 😀

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  5. I've had a long back and forth history with religion. At one point I was in seminary and prepared to be a pastor, and today I'm pretty much agnostic. I think there is something out there, but I think that all of our current dogmatic language is inadequate in describing and addressing it. I still consider myself a seeker, but much more spiritual than religion.

    On a random side note, my R entry was actually about the boys of R.E.M. Great minds and all that.

    Hi from Nagzilla bloghopping A to Z

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  6. I had similar experiences with the religion I was raised to believe in.

    As a mother, I struggle with the notion of having faith in a parental being who would not love his or her children unconditionally.

    The subject of religion and faith is always thought provoking.

    Great Post!

    I am visiting from the A-Z challenge and a new follower.

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  7. It would be great if we could all feel “I am enough”! It seems that as soon as a beleif system becomes an institution (like the church), it looses its core and turns into a number of rules. I think that is what makes it difficult for people to connect with “religion”, many people have a strong beleif but do not necessarily need the church, as institution. Great post!

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