When I was thirty-two years old, I made a deal with God.
I’m going to go experiment, I told him. (God was a “him” in those days.) Most of what the church taught me feels wrong. I don’t know about Jesus anymore. And You… I just need permission to think anything I want for a while without being afraid.
I wasn’t sure if what I was doing would send me to hell. I was terrified, but determined. You just let me know if I’m going down the wrong path here, and I’ll come back.
I never got a signal to stop.
Ironically, the fundamentalist church thinking that had me psychologically entrapped for years also provided the means of escape: the required personal relationship with God. In the end, I knew I could go directly to God and plead my case. I knew that God mattered more than any church authority.
And, in the end, I knew the one I was really praying to was myself.
I don’t mean that I had become an atheist or anti-spiritual. I still desired a spiritual life of some kind. I mean that I had discovered a basic, powerful truth about spirituality: I was the only one who could give myself permission to read, practice, discover, observe, and indeed think anything I wanted. The potential for freedom existed in my own mind.
To whom am I grateful for this transition from a fearful, confused, psychologically oppressed Amy to a free-thinking, spiritually-grounded, world-embracing Amy? I really don’t know! I have grown comfortable with uncertainty.
But I am grateful, profoundly so. Thank you universe!
In the United States alone, half of all adults change their religion at least once. Seventy-one percent of both Protestants and Catholics who leave their church–and don’t join another–simply “drift away” from their faith (Pew Research Study, 2009).
Think about it guys: how many stories are there about spiritual confusion, disappointment, control, and even abuse that are not being told? How many others, like me, had to grab their courage, stand up, and make that giant psychological leap to freedom?
Everyone has the right to tell their story and to claim their spiritual freedom, but it is rarely encouraged. This is the gap in our culture that I’m going to help fill through this blog:
- Provide online tools that allow people to claim and implement their spiritual freedom NOW: ebooks, webinars, and courses. Your beliefs are your own choice.
- Interview people who have had to leave their former faith so they could truly live as free individuals: podcasts, videos, and written interviews
- Write using all sorts of cultural sources–science, literature, spirituality, philosophy–to teach that a spiritual life is a whole life. There is nothing you do that isn’t a part of your spiritual mindset. Your spiritual framework must value a free mind if you are to live a free life.
- Always, always encourage compassion, self-respect, integrity, and kindness, whether someone is atheist, agnostic, spiritual, or a member of a traditional faith.
I want to learn how to get the word out and start helping people to empower themselves to be free. This is why I’m in week nine of Corbett’s Start A Blog That Matters. This is why I attended NMX this year. And it’s why Corbett and Caleb are both in my first round-up post!
- I have a degree in education, and I’ve taught music, reading, and English in the United States and in Japan. I have also led workshops in spiritual life through the Unitarian-Universalist Association.
- I have an M.A. in East Asian studies, with knowledge of East Asian religions
- I have an M.A. in Writing and Literature. I excel at academic researched essays, non-fiction, and story-telling.
- I co-run a business where I have learned that nothing is more important than customer service. Interaction with my clients is my favorite part of the biz. (Need references? Click here.)
In the end, what matters is that we treat our fellow human beings and ourselves with compassion and respect. Everything else is simply a set of tools to get us there.
Free your mind.
Create your spirituality.
Learn to be You In The World.
Corbett, Caleb, Chase–thank you for reading. Thank you for the opportunity. I am so grateful, and I wish you the very best in your new adventure.
Namaste (I honor the spirit in you)