Weekly church, regular confession, fasting at lent, praying for forgiveness and generally trying to be a good person dominated my religious life from when I was old enough to understand it until organised religion and I broke up when I was 35. The break-up wasn’t long and drawn out; in fact it was short, fast and relatively painless for me.
If you had asked me when I was in the thick of my regular organised religious practices if I would let it go, I wouldn’t have believed you, as I have always known there was God and I was taught throughout my childhood that God equated to religion and church.
GOD = RELIGION AND CHURCH
It just seemed normal to me that, if I understood there was a God, this automatically meant I needed to belong to a religion as it gave me a sense of a belonging to something where everyone was on the same page; and without attending church, I could not consider myself religious. Interestingly during this period, I often felt not good enough, seeking God’s forgiveness or praying to him to make life better. My sense of God and religion was always approached as something outside of myself that I needed to have in order to be considered a good person, and to confirm to others that I cared about people and life, so although I didn’t agree with every aspect of it, religion was something I felt I needed.
As it turned out, it was my care for people that was at the root of my sudden and unexpected break-up with religion as I’d known it to be. In the early nineties, the media was reporting on the religious clergy who had been involved with the church’s long history of paedophilia and how chosen and trusted religious leaders had covered it up. This shocked me to the core but at the same time, I was willing to be open to hearing what the head of my church had to say about it, hoping they would admit their error or show that the media was engaging in the usual sensationalism.
The final straw came while attending my usual weekly church service. I heard a sermon from my clergy, who was also a solicitor, stating the importance of people who may have experienced paedophilia, to not go to the police, but to keep it in the confines of the church for the church to manage. This was the very position that the media were reporting had resulted in such wide scale, epidemic abuse of children across generations and classes.
From that moment, I knew I could no longer be part of something that was willing to be so dishonest as to continue to hide the truth of the systematic abuse of children, fostered through a stance of silent neglect that left many, many lives broken. So after 35 years I left the church with no regret. It did take me some time to recover from all the teachings I had so blindly aligned to, so much so I used to say I was recovering from organised religion, but I am delighted to report I have recovered and I have actually found my true religion.
From my deep, inner knowing that there was God and from what I was reminded of via the Ageless Wisdom presented by Universal Medicine, I discovered that the love of God was already within me and all I needed to do to live my true religion was to:
- Know this deep, inner knowing as truth
- Choose to re-connect to this truth
- Live in a way that confirmed it – by making self-loving choices
- Share the love I now felt from within, with everyone I connected to – not by preaching or knocking on doors, but by being myself.
GOD = THE ALL
Living in this way – that is, re-connected to the love within me – has completely changed my life. And like many break-ups that happen in life, my break-up with organised religion had the best silver lining in that it allowed me space to find True Religion, – The Way of The Livingness, – that mirrors how I feel inside, with no promises or dodgy aspects, but an invitation to unfold myself from within via ritual, rhythm and people, without a church, clergy or rule book in sight.
By Sharon Gavioli, Brisbane, Registered Nurse, Adult Educator, Counsellor, Age 56