When I was young I went to church on Sundays. I was baptized in the United Methodist Church and I attended youth group meetings and went on field trips like a lot of middle class suburban kids did in Texas. It wasn’t so much a growing experience for me as a tradition. Something people did. I never understood what I was really experiencing at the time.
But like a lot of people, ministers came and went and our attendance dropped off as I got into high school and chose to spend my time elsewhere.
Did I stop believing in God? I don’t think so. I’m not sure though that I ever had a real understanding at the time of what it means to believe in God or really any higher power than yourself. I think that I looked upon the existence of God as just another entitlement. “If God is real than of course God loves me! Why wouldn’t he?” That’s not a real quote but it sums up what was probably going through my head as a teenager.
As a young adult I really lost touch with the divine nature of the universe. I remember spending very little time contemplating my place in the big picture and the existence of a God was more a philosophical conversational exercise than anything else. Who am I to claim to know the truth? Even more so, who are you to tell me?
And that right there is where I let myself wander down the wrong path. I stopped listening to my higher self and cut myself off from those voices trying to get through. Who am I to claim something to be the truth? Somewhere along the way I think I stopped laying claim to any real beliefs in my life based on what I actually believe. Who am I? I don’t know why don’t you tell me TV, magazine, movie, friend? What do I believe in? I don’t know why don’t you show me TV, magazine, movie, friend? I let myself get so caught up in trying to fit in and be accepted that I allowed myself to let other people choose my beliefs for me. Let me rephrase that. I chose to let other people choose for me. This is a stark revelation for me. It’s hard to believe I would make a decision like this but reflecting back it is the truth. No one else can make my choices so that leaves me holding the reigns.
And where did I guide my life? I went down dark paths and lived fearfully trying to please everyone but my higher self. Who was I to know what was best for me?
Which brings to this Billy Graham video I came upon today. So we all have excuses? So what? We can change right now if we want to. I know few facts about Billy Graham but I do know that many look upon him as an important figure in spiritual living. I had several encounters with him as I was growing up. I remember hearing his voice and seeing him preach from the TV in my grandparents house late into the evening. Each night my grandparents would sit in different rooms watching TV until they fell asleep. My grandmother would doze off in her arm chair watching Billy while my grandfather stuck with classic western or war movies to fall asleep to. A scene I imagined was played out in so many homes across the country. I didn’t dig much deeper than that but the name stuck.
At one point I was working on a goat dairy farm and delivering fresh meat and milk to those around town. In this job I encountered a number of “interesting” people whose lives were so different from mine. At least that’s what I thought at the time. I see now I used the word “interesting” as a way to not define how I actually felt about something and create separation. Have you ever done this? So very Spock of me. There was this one elderly woman I delivered several gallons of goat milk to each week. Her living room was a shrine to Jesus and the TV echoed her physical world. She surrounded herself with little barking dogs looking for attention, crosses of all shape and size adorned her walls and Billy Graham was always preaching on the TV. I remember feeling slightly uncomfortable walking into her home yet at the same time I also remember feeling so very welcomed and appreciated. Looking back at it now I see I was probably experiencing one of the few very honest people interactions in my life at the time but I didn’t know how to accept the fact that I was worthy of her thanks. I chose to remain confused by these emotions though and did not explore them any further until now. Just a wacky story about nothing for me to relate to my so called “friends.”
I see now the literal and metaphorical separation that was taking place. I also see God’s presence was always there even while lost in the void. Doesn’t matter what name you want to use, it is all the same. God / Source / Universe is always there speaking to us in so many different ways. I am not advocating for Christianity or Islam or any other variation on the same theme. All roads lead to the same destination. Doesn’t matter what you call the road you choose. There is a higher power at work in this universe that’s been trying to get our attention for a long time. Knock Knock! Anyone home in there? 🙂
So what’s the excuse for not choosing to surrender and accept what you’ve always known right now? Do we continue to live lives of separation or do we choose to accept and believe without excuse? It’s funny because in our hearts we all know that God / Source / Universe is REAL yet we spend so much time trying to deny it. At least I did. You gotta laugh at yourself really. What distraction will I choose today so that I don’t have to accept and believe? Perhaps sports or movies or politics or my diet or….other people’s lives? Not saying that there isn’t a time and place for all of those things but let’s be honest about how most folks use these things.
It seems clear that by not choosing now, we continue to claim the excuse of separation. The bridges have always been there for us. Now to take that first step and walk the path. So let me lastly say that this is all just my opinion and I could very well be wrong…but that’s not what I believe. Either way, I know that all is well.