Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

God Would Let Me Live In His Poolhouse

I feel like God's pool house will have a very Frank Lloyd Wright vibe to it.

I have spent a lot of time, over the last 20 years, ruminating on my reasons for leaving the Mormon church. I had many. Some were big. Others, admittedly petty. But the main reason was because I grew up feeling like shit. There was always a part of me that knew I was going to hell and tried hard to convince the rest of me that I was a monster. At the same time, the bigger part of me was constantly trying to calm down. I would whisper things to myself during particularly offensive sermons things like, “don’t panic,” and, “this guy can’t possibly be right.”

I should add that I DO think that a lot of the “crazy” I was exposed to was because of the radicalism in the tiny town I lived in, and not actually a part of the larger Mormon church.

My leaving the church was based entirely on my gut. For many years, I wouldn’t let myself read any of the many well-documented, historical accounts of Joseph Smith’s time that clearly dispute everything I was taught. Reading of any facts that are not church-sanctioned is forbidden. I was still so indoctrinated that I hadn’t yet realized that no one should shy away from any truth. I don’t just choose not to learn about any other subject out of fear it might change my mind. So, the fact-finding phase eventually came. In the end, it made no difference to me. I knew what I knew. It did, however, spark a fair amount of rage that I was ever subjected to such crazy-making. I wish I had no anger, but there it is. I am, for the most part, over it.

It was my daughter who helped me get over the “hump” about being okay with my choice to leave the church. I would look at my daughter and think, “There is nothing she could ever do, or not do, that would make me withhold my love.” I knew, from the second she was born, that even if she turned out to be a carnival madame, I would never stop loving her or wanting her with me. I knew, that as long as I lived, she would always find shelter in my home.

Knowing this truth led me to the greatest breakthrough I would ever have. I realized it was simply illogical to believe that a supreme being, like the Mormon God (who is said to be all-powerful, all-knowing and who loves us more than a parent loves a child. In fact, he is referred to as our “Heavenly Father” almost exclusively) would have sent down a list of requirements which, upon failing to follow, would result in our not being able to live in his neighborhood. As I watched my sweet daughter sleeping one night I realized that not only was the aforementioned completely irrational, so is the idea that in order to remain in our family units in heaven that there are a bunch of other “to do’s” on God’s list for us.

I used to play out the scenario of me dying, in my mind, and going to God for judgement. I would hear Him saying to me, “Now Rebecca, I told you that if you didn’t get married in the temple to a nice Mormon boy that you couldn’t live up here in our section of heaven and furthermore, you are now stripped of your family.” The whole idea, to me, is completely, totally and utterly preposterous.

I do not base my love or support or affection or shelter or help or anything on a sliding scale of Hannah’s obedience to me. It would be crazy to do so. And if it would be so ridiculous for me to do that, then why does it seem rational that God would do that? It just doesn’t jive. (As an aside, I know there are a bunch of you saying to yourselves, “You just don’t understand the nature of God,” I must interject that, no, I do not, but neither do you. And for those of you who are now adding in, “It is not ours to understand, all will be revealed,” I have to say, I totally agree.)

Nowadays I see others like me everywhere. They shuffle listlessly around Salt Lake area malls with blank faces and bags bursting with RC Willey bric-a-brac. They are good people. They don’t know why they are so depressed. They feel trapped. They double-down on the depression by seeing their sadness as further evidence of their failure to be the perfect mormon. They believe that “living the gospel” perfectly is the ONLY way they will ever feel peace. They are people who are wracked with guilt and who carry the heavy burden of knowing they haven’t gotten God’s To-do list done. It breaks my heart to see their needless suffering. And make no mistake, they are suffering, and it is needless.

Don’t get me wrong! I LOVE MORMONS. Maybe not the dogma, but the people, in general, I like. They are my people, after all. I do not doubt my Mother’s sincere love and belief in the mormon church. I do not judge her faith. It is a pure and beautiful thing. For her, I actually hope it is ALL true. She deserves a house right next to God’s in the hereafter. I am happy for the thousands of mormons out there who find their happiness through the church. I am grateful for their generally positive belief system. I know that one of the reasons I love it in SLC is because a large percentage of the population has taken 2 years out of their lives and given it to the service of humanity across the globe. I think “the church” is, mostly, a force for good — no matter what it’s based on.

But, for those of you who have read this missive and thought, “How sad for her that she missed the message,” or, “She must have read some anti-mormon literature,” or, “God loves us, he just hates certain behaviors,” or, “Women can’t hold the priesthood because they already have the gift of childbearing,” or any other common platitude, let me bear you my testimony:

I know that there is truth in all things, but no one thing can contain all truth. Just as you know, with all your “heart, might, mind and strength” that the mormon church is the only “true” church, I know with equal vigor that, if there is a great white God who sits on high, he and I are good. He loves me. In fact, He loves everything about me. He thinks I am earnest, hilarious, sweet and sincere. He cracks up at my hijinks and cries about my many failures. And if, when I die, I meet Him on the other side, I know He would let me live in his pool house if I wanted to. He would find all my family who had gone before and they’d throw me a party. He would just be glad to see me again. Period.

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I Finally Did It

The view this morning.

After almost four years of never working out, I went “running” this morning. “Running” is in quotes because, at best, I jogged for 4 minutes. Things started out just fine. I was feeling pretty good about myself, headed up the avenues with Christina Aguilera singing in my ears, when I was struck by the headache. I know you know what I’m talking about. The headache that makes you wonder if God is punishing you. It is sudden. It makes you stop and take in more oxygen. It’s the warning you get that you’re just about to throw up from exertion. I dry heaved into the bushes, felt really dizzy, wheeled around and ambled my way up to a grassy spot on the hill overlooking city creek, the capitol and downtown SLC.

I took a moment to snap the photo shown here and headed back home. My head was pounding. It was really very cold and my face and ears were frozen. I must’ve been clenching my teeth, because my jaw was killing me. I was in a quite a bit of pain. And then I started coughing. You know the cough. The cough that comes from years of laziness and intermittent smoking. I welcomed the cough because I knew that even though I hadn’t gone very far, my lungs were already opening up. For that matter, I welcomed the pain. It was further proof I had done something worthwhile.

My “run” was very informative. I am obviously even more out of shape than I thought. I learned I should invest in softer ear buds for my iPod and that I gloves aren’t really optional. I found out that I really need to wear a hat and maybe even a turtleneck. I also made mental notes to wear sunscreen, even though it’s early and overcast, and to never, ever forget my sunglasses. I have sensitive eyes, yes, but mostly I wished I’d had sunglasses to hide my shame!

As part of my larger “Excess Emancipation” project I am committed to implementing a morning routine that allows me to get the most important things I need to do to maintain peace of mind finished up before heading out into the world. The first part of my new morning ritual has come surprisingly easily — I wake up at 5 AM and write for two hours. Sometimes I wake up a little later, but all in all, I’ve stuck to it pretty religiously.

The second part of this rising with the sun regimen has been a bitch. It is very important to me to be physically fit and I’ve really let things slide. So, in an effort to purge some pounds and fire up my fitness level, I decided to incorporate just 15 minutes of running and yoga, each, to my morning momentum. My plan was to be 20 days in to a 40 day yoga challenge by today (which I committed to with some other peeps from Avenues Yoga). And I figured I would also have added in the running portion of my mornings over 10 days ago. But, as it turns out, I am more resistant to exercise than I had realized.

My exercise “allergy” is proving to be one of my biggest obstacles. Regarding the yoga challenge,  the rule is is that if you skip a day, you start over. Well I have started and stopped around 7 times already. I have lots of excuses. And regarding the plan to start running every day? I have not been able to force myself out the door until today.

This week’s class at Outlook Development was on listening to our inner gurus. I participated in an exercise to find a solution to whatever our biggest obstacle was to accomplishing our goals. It was easy for me to identify mine. I want to silence the “Itty bitty shitty committee” in my head that tells me I don’t like physical exertion. It’s simply NOT TRUE. I can come up with tons of examples where I have volunteered for physically exhausting enterprises. But, when it comes to consistent exercise, I balk. After having a guided convo with my inner guru, I decided I would call the person who is most like me, who has overcome this same obstacle in her life. I decided to call Nan.

My sister, Nanette, is number 4 of us 10 kids. I am number 7.  We have shared a lifetime of obsessions with gymnastics, songwriting, performing, bleaching our hair, being hilarious, loving our kids, making awesome rally posters, participating in off-beat arts and crafts (She: tole [tolle?] painting, knitting and rug-making. Me: decoupage, furniture refinishing and collage making), writing and maybelline mascara.

My silly chart with spaces to place gold stars.

I called her to ask what she does to stay motivated to workout. She told me that having a running buddy helped. That’s just not right for me, right now. WAY too much pressure. She said that sometimes she would sleep in her workout clothes. Brilliant! We talked for awhile until we both got really excited about making silly charts to track our progress and agreed we’d both set goals and a timeline that, when achieved, would earn us a prize. We are going to make prizes for each other to send upon completion. I am laughing out loud as I type this. It seems ridiculous, but it’s just what the doctor ordered.

I promised to call every morning as I was lacing up my shoes so I could be accountable to someone. We haven’t worked out all the details, yet, but I’m encouraged. Last night I laid out my clothes and this morning when it came time to get outside and run, I actually got dressed, laced up my shoes, left her a message, and ran!

Who cares that I overdid it in just 4 minutes and almost passed out? I don’t. I’m just stoked I actually did it. I pretty much rule. Thanks, Nan!

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Honing my Habits

Day 1: 40-day Yoga Challenge

Wow, can I ever procrastinate. I found perfectly legitimate reasons to put off the inaugural yoga session of a 40-day challenge until late yesterday. I was going to start on the 1st. Then I had people in town and wasn’t mentally up to the commitment quite yet. Then I was going to start on the 8th, but still didn’t feel ready. I woke up yesterday feeling ready!

But first I had a book to read; had to make a playlist; had to talk on the phone a million times; had to file some online paperwork… you get the idea. I’m not sure why I’ve been resisting. I think it’s fear of failure (i.e. quitting).

The good news is that I was able to do the prescribed routine! I’m sure I’m not as graceful as the rest of the people doing this, but it was perfect for me. I’m so relieved. It is totally doable. I will triumph!

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Freeing the Fat, Honing my Habits

My “Sadhana”

As part of my quest to emancipate myself from excess, I decided I wanted to incorporate yoga back into my life. I determined I wanted to commit to some type of daily practice as well as attending classes, etc. I was fortunate enough to realize on New Years Eve that attending a yoga class on New Years Day would be the perfect way to “seal” that intention.

I went online figuring there would be dozens of New Years Day yoga extravaganzas. (This town’s lousy with yogis!) But, to my surprise, I only found one. That was all good, of course, because the studio is just a few blocks from my house and the instructor is/was an acquaintance with a big reputation for giving good yoga.

So I went. It was indeed awesome. And it was lucky! He told us he was, “Doing a defined daily vinyasa practice for 40 days,” and invited those of us who wanted to, to join in. I signed up and he emailed me the vinyasa. I should’ve know it would be complicated for a novice like myself!

I finally took to the net and looked up each position. Then I printed out a picture of each one, (crazy, much?) and made a ridiculous chart so I could follow along without interpreting too much along the way. He says he can do the whole deal in 15 minutes.

Actually, he didn’t tell the class he was, “Doing a defined daily vinyasa practice for 40 days.” What he actually said was that he was beginning a 40-day “Sadhana.” And really, that’s what this whole “Shucking the superfluous shit” saga is for me — it’s a Sadhana.

A “Sadhana” is defined as “…the process of consciously participating in spiritual growth, or the exercises or methods we practice for personal development and Self-mastery, leading toward what is thought of as ‘enlightenment’ or ‘Self-realization.” <<– That there is jest fancy talk for Excess Emancipation.

I started in late December, 2011 and will finish my “Sadhana” on the Ides of March. To sum up: I am uncovering my authentic self, crawling out from under excess stuff, excess weight, excess TV, excess bullshit, excess stress and excess baggage. My approach is 3-pronged. The categories are: Me & My Life. My Health. My Home.

Under the category “Me & My Life” are qualitative, ongoing “to dos” like: letting go of negative beliefs; discovering and claiming what I want to do with my life (again); filling my days with reading, studying, practicing the piano and guitar, re-purposing furniture, writing and other worthy pursuits; shedding the TV habit; connecting with nature and so on…

Under the “My Health” category are quantitative mini-goals like: quit smoking (done!); do a 10-day green smoothie detox (done!); commit to a 90% raw food diet (done!); Begin a daily yoga practice (starting in the morning!); build a habit of running at least 6 miles a week (work on this starts soon!); Get outdoors and play, etc…

In the “My Home” category are fun plans like: getting rid of 50-75% of my stuff; fixing my financial quagmire; implementing simple cleaning habits; finding ways to make money from home and still go to school… you get the idea.

I have reviewed my lists and am implementing new habits every week. Which brings us to today. This week, along with sticking to eating mostly raw foods; sorting my shit for the big yard sale; reading something uplifting just before going to sleep every night; doing a “choice process” once a week to shed negative beliefs; blogging every day; and just generally being awesome, I am adding the aforementioned “defined daily vinyasa practice for 40 days” to my 90-day “Sadhana.”

I’m feeling some fear of failure around this milestone, but I know I can do it. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Filed under 101 Day Project, Freeing the Fat, Honing my Habits