Our Faith Journey
Over the years we began to notice the challenges inherent in living in a high-demand religion. We observed the effects of the shame culture in our family and with many others. We saw how shame could be correlated with nearly every mental health issue, including anxiety, depression, OCD, and even addiction as people seek to self-medicate to cope with the pain of shame. We realized how we had personally been affected and how we had unknowingly perpetuated the shame culture in others as a result of embracing false church culture and opinions masquerading as doctrine.
Our children suffered in silence for years as they tried to conceal their pain, in deference to us and our strong beliefs. Finally, they found the courage to speak up and give us some clarity about the issues they were facing, and the ways in which we were exacerbating the problem. This new awareness and some deep and humble introspection led us to take a leap of faith and stop trying to "fix" them, or preach at them.
We traded our constant anxiety for their eternal welfare and decided to actually trust in the principle of agency--to trust them in their individual sacred paths. This began with our understanding of God's infinite love and trust for us and the revelation that none of us is ever going to take such a wrong turn that we could be lost and fallen forever, or that we could never recover from. It's just not going to happen! None of us is perdition! God is more invested in our learning, growing, and experiencing life, than in some cosmic scoreboard keeping track of our scrupulous adherence to every little rule conceived by men.
We realized that Love is the great commandment and the greatest power in the universe. That Love is the law and the law is Love! That our connection with God and others is the most important thing; that love is the supreme motivating force, not warnings of impending and eternal doom, or fear, or anxiety for our eternal welfare because that has already been secured! We believe we are here to learn, grow, experience, and Love! Living in Love--practicing Love, is the surest way to do the right things for the right reasons. Acting out of fear is the best way to end up with wrong actions and motives, as well as mental illness, and damaged relationships.
We began to transform, expand, and see with new eyes. In Brian McLaren's 4 stage faith model, we had grown out of Simplicity, through Complexity, into the depths of Perplexity, and are now in the lifelong process of coming into Harmony, each stage building on the last.
Consequently, we began to walk this path of sovereignty-born-of-Love WITH our children and others. It began to change us and our relationships with our children and others. We gained knowledge and insight to be able to help in ways we couldn't have before. It has offered some of the most challenging, heartbreaking, stressful, yet growth-producing experiences of our lives. And we wouldn't trade it for anything!
We learned the need for real community and support in the ongoing journey of faith and personal development. My relationship with God (my Heavenly Parents, and Jesus Christ) is my guiding force. Feeling Their Love changes everything! Understanding Their nature helps me discern between false cultural ideas and truth. God's Love directs me to trust in each individual's journey as sacred. We are all finding our own paths, (just as it should be) learning to become sovereign, integrated beings.