This is Part #1 in a multi-part series of blogs, all about my life experiences trying to find love, or settlement, in all manner of ways...
A good friend once described me as ‘a seeker’… someone that was always looking for something more. I was always unsettled, always knowing that there was something more - but never quite sure where to find it.
In this blog series I share the various 'life offerings' I explored - looking for love.
A picture of me circa 1998 during my 'church days'.
#1 - RELIGION
I grew up in a relatively unheard of Christian group that shaped much of my life experiences until I was 21.
My family and I were very active members of the church and I myself remained an active member until I left entirely at the age of 21. This saw me attending church, youth groups and other activities several days/evenings of the week. As a teenager moving into my 20’s I was on the youth group committee and committed a lot of my time and energy to church activities.
Whilst the community aspect of this was something that felt very familiar to me – friends that were like family, church camps, outings and youth group activities… the fundamental beliefs and principals of the church itself were what I would now say are far from honouring of people (particularly women).
One of the fundamental beliefs of this religion (and many religions) is that we are all sinners (aka BAD), and that we needed Jesus to die for us so that we could be forgiven for our sins (interpreted - we need to seek forgiveness for being bad people).
In this religion, there was no belief of heaven or hell, but rather a belief of a coming judgement day when Jesus would return and all those who had followed him would be risen from the dead to be judged. On such judgement day, you would be deemed either a good and faithful servant – and granted eternal life. Or you would be deemed not up to scratch (bad), and sent back to the ground.
From my experiences within this religion, I learnt that we are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and developed a strong sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Judgement of each other and of oneself was pretty extreme - although life experience tells me this is not exclusive to religion... judgement it seems is something humanity loves to indulge in!
During this stage of my life, I also learnt about charades. How I saw people at church was not always how I knew them to be outside of that. And/or, the words that spilled out of their mouths about how we should be and what rules we should follow were not coming from bodies who lived this.
Most of all, I felt a lack of love, understanding and brotherhood. Everything I had read about Jesus up until that point in time did not align with the doctrine of the religion, or what I felt around me… and so I thought – if this man is true, then this religion is definitely not it.
There were a lot of other underlying (or overlying) beliefs within this religion. Potentially however, the most harming of lies was that of the Hierarchical structure of the church. God was at the top. Below him was Jesus. Below Jesus was man. And then right down there at the bottom, were women - less than men and also encouraged to serve a man faithfully.
A woman was also to keep herself well covered, lest she arouse the attention of a man. Depending on the particular church you went to within the religion determined the extremity of this one. At some, wearing long skirts, long sleeves, high necks was essential. Others were more liberal with this.
All of these, things I very much subscribed to, followed along diligently, and mostly sprouted off as my own ‘truth’.
From what I felt and experienced – the level of inequality and separation such beliefs cause is quite extreme and are designed to shut down the natural expression of a woman. Enter self-worth issues and a life time of giving ones power away to men.
The hierarchical structure disconnects us from the possibility that we are a) all equal and b) are innately divine and have a divine essence within us that is equal to God… and ultimately leaves no room for one to ever truly connect to themselves.
I'm pretty sure religion wins the award for creating such a notion that it is a woman's job to keep a man satisfied.
For me - subscribing to this religion and adopting this way of life left a staggering hole in my self-worth. I grew up believing that I was inherently evil, a sinner and less than men.
For something that suggested this way of life was 'it' (as all religions do) - how I felt in my body told me that this was certainly not it.