Finding My True Spiritual Path.
My path to the divine has never been a straight line.
I’ve always believed in God even throughout my darkest days, but religion in general has taken its toll on me over the years. The bureaucracy, red-tape and confining structure of organized religion are major turn-offs.
If you think about it, religion is the reason and cause behind many wars and conflicts in the world both yesterday and today.
I was baptized Roman Catholic at around five years old; I remember that day vividly, as I yelled at the priest for throwing water on my head. I wouldn’t see the inside of a church again for many years.
After being approached by the pastor of the Lutheran church up the street from our house, my mother had me attend VBS (vacation bible school) when I was in the fourth grade. I was shaped and formed in that environment and even attended a Lutheran school for my sixth through eighth grade years.
I was an outsider, therefore I was shunned and sometimes emotionally bullied — I lived that same scenario at home with my mother as well. Those years were hell for me, pardon the obvious pun.
When I came back to public school for my freshman year, I experienced a separation from the church; I believe I pulled away because of the bad experiences I encountered in Lutheran school. I wouldn’t return until I was in my early twenties and looking for some kind of spiritual direction.
This time around, I took a step up in my service to the church and God — I started teaching VBS, Sunday school and took on the responsibility of a youth group as well. My nephews were involved in these activities; I wanted to be a good influence on them.
Once my nephews entered high school, they repeated my pattern of separation from the church. I once again felt pulled away spiritually, as I wasn’t able to find that spiritual connection I was looking for.
I was dissatisfied with the structure and hierarchy that was present in the Lutheran religion. I felt restricted in my spirituality and soon started researching other religions, faiths and paths to the divine.
In my late twenties, I decided to do things my way and as it turned out, I started to walk a solitary Pagan path without even realizing it. I was always drawn towards a more grounded and earthly form of connecting to the divine presence in my life.
I still prayed to God, but I also petitioned minor gods and goddesses in specific prayers and intercessions; how different from Catholicism was that really?
My church was anywhere I felt at peace; sometimes it was a secluded beach, other times it was my back porch under the moonlight. I burned frankincense and myrrh incense when I prayed and meditated.
I celebrated the seasons and the new and full moons — I have always held a fascination with the moon and refer to myself as a moon-child even to this day.
When I started to meet others of a like mind, I began attending group meetings and rituals; this was short lived, as drama and bureaucracy started to rear its ugly head. I went back to being solitary.
For a while I walked what is now referred to as a Christo-Pagan path. I preferred to call myself spiritual rather than religious; I pulled beliefs and traditions from different faiths and forged my own path.
My thirties found me worshiping at the Temple of the Almighty Dollar, as I was working as a manager at a strip club. I fell into a lot of sin and avarice in that environment; it severely stunted my spiritual growth. I knew I needed a spiritual infusion, but I ignored that need and found my solace in other ways.
I wouldn’t step into a church again until I was thirty-eight, when I took a trip to Rome, Italy.
My trip to Italy filled me with so much spiritual energy; I found my infusion of hope, peace and love once again. The Pagan and Christian monuments, artifacts, sculptures and paintings beckoned me to stop, slow down and breathe in life.
That trip started my almost year and a half sojourn back into my spirituality.
I felt such unrest in my day to day life when I returned from my trip abroad. I wrestled with being a spiritual person while working in a strip club full of negativity, depravity, sin and greed.
The more you stuff feelings down inside, the harder they try to surface.
My breaking point came one day as I was cleaning the toilets at the club and I heard a voice say, “This is the last time you will ever clean these toilets.” I remember standing up and looking around — no one was there at the club, I was alone. I kept cleaning.
About thirty minutes later as I was cleaning the floors I heard the voice again, “You’re destined for better than you’ve allowed yourself to believe.” I pulled a chair out, sat down and started crying. It was then I had flashes in my mind of my future outside of the club.
Some have asked me what was the voice; perhaps it was God, maybe it was my higher self finally getting through to me. There was only one thing I knew in that moment — I had allowed the environment I was working in to trap me. I saw clearly the corruption of the club, along with the empty life I was leading and knew I needed to escape before it consumed me.
My break away from the club life was swift. I felt an almost immediate calm in my life overall; it was very profound. I was excited to return to a more grounded, centered, and spiritually filled life.
That was the biggest leap of faith I have ever made in my life to this day.
I craved and desperately needed spiritual direction. I answered the calling I thought I was receiving and I found my way back into the church after an almost twenty year hiatus. I felt happy and at home, as the people there were so warm and welcoming; that feeling, as in the past, was short lived.
While being directly involved in the church and in the Lutheran religion as well, I found myself once again questioning my spiritual path. I loved the fellowship and the friendships I had forged there, but not the bureaucracy.
Today I find myself accepting that I know what I believe and I hold that faith in in my heart and soul. I also know that I do not need to worship God and the divine presence in my life within the confines of a church, with others or within an organized religion.
I am a very loving, empathetic and spiritual person. I feel more spiritual fulfillment finding the divine in my everyday life when I go and spend quiet time at the lake or when I take a long walk in nature, reveling in the beauty around me.
I am at peace, completely grounded and centered when I do soul-fulfilling activities like writing, drawing or painting. I feel spiritual energy when I’m immersing myself in music and dancing. I find more focused energy and spiritual strength when I exercise and lift weights.
I harness sacred energy when I intimately connect and share passion with a man in a sensual way. I crave soul uplifting activities like encouraging and helping others to live a positive and fulfilling life.
My spirituality is too vast for the confines of organized religion.
Laura Bock is a freelance writer and photographer. She is an old school punk and alterna-chick that prefers wearing her Doc Martens over a pair of heels. She’s recently learned to de-clutter and simplify, so that she might pursue the life she so desperately craves. Her passions are writing, travel and photography. You can connect with Laura on Facebook, Twitter and her blog, Tales of a Formerly Inadequate Fat Girl.