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So I had a spiritual crisis last Monday, and I still can't really find resolution about it. I was hoping to make some sense of it before I posted about it, wanted to have some level of organization for my thoughts. Was going to make it private, but then realized that if someone does decide to brave the post and read it, they might have a good resource, sage advice, kick to the sac for me.

---The background
For most of my life, I've considered myself "spiritually hungry". I was raised in a home that didn't have a strong religious identification. As I grew up, I found my mother's ouija board and Tarot cards that I believe gave her some spiritual direction, and my father has had a pretty intense flirtation with various forms of christianity (including Jehovah's Witnesses) since my early teen years, but I've never been able to say "I was raised (fill in the blank)". Living in a predominantly christian culture, being raised in a town where all visibly religious people were christian has had it's effect, I suppose, but I wrote christianity off as soon as I realized I was gay; there was no way that I would even consider a religion that said I was going to hell for following what feels like an integral part of my existence.

---The crisis
I don't even remember how it started, but the gist of the beginning of the crisis was the idea of surrending to god (big g little g, plural, I have no idea). The idea of surrender has appealed to me lately, to ask my creator for help so I stop feeling like such a loser or deadbeat when I don't take care of things that I "should" have taken care of. I also wonder if these negative feelings aren't a sign that I've made wrong choices, and I need to choose a different path. Thinking about the nature of hard times, I started thinking about how we are shaped by negative events, how they make us stronger and/or better human beings. I (think I) believe in reincarnation, and often ask myself what lessons I need to be taking from this lifetime.

Then I put it together like this: there are two possible options for my current bad feelings, one, they are just a product of my socialization and are not warning signs of having made a bad choice in the eyes of Fate, or, two, they are a sign that I've made a bad choice, and I need to choose a better path before Lachesis slaps me again. The answer to either path appears to be surrender to the will of the creator. If it's just negative feelings due to socialization, the creator can soothe me. If I need to choose a new life plan, the creator can offer me guidance.

Here's where I really started to panic, when I started to wonder about what kind of guidance the creator would offer me. What if I didn't want to do it? If I'm truly surrendering to the creator, I need to follow the path laid out for me, otherwise I should expect to feel negative consequences of my choice. I don't believe in a spiteful god, but you don't raise a healthy child by never letting them eat too much candy; sometimes, you let them have a stomach ache to remind them to make better choices.

and it kept getting worse. From here I started to wonder if feeling bad WAS my life's purpose. The early part of my life was full of foolish and/or cruel behavior. What if this lifetime is about finding wisdom and compassion through suffering, preparing me to become one of those "old soul" types that comfort the world around them effortlessly. What if I'm surrendering to a god who is asking for my destruction?

I think about that guy in the bible (abraham maybe) who was asked to sacrifice his son. I've never been that kind of believer, and I'm starting to think that maybe I'm supposed to be. Then, even if I'm feeling crappy, I should be able to feel that I'm feeling crappy for a reason. Sadness that has purpose. Now, I wonder if this is the reason I've never settled into any spiritual practice-I'm afraid that god is going to ask me for something that I don't want to give. To give an extreme example (that I don't think is part of this), what if god didn't want me to be gay? Could I stop?

(note: TMI warning) Taking a turn for the surreal, I spent some time thinking about what it would be like to surrender to my creator, to let her (him? it?) fill me with purpose, and it TURNED ME ON. Are my sexual flirtations with being submissive based in spiritual need? Some of my most intense emotional experiences have been during submissive fantasy; it seems plausible that this could be why.

---drawing conclusions
I need to serve my creator, that has become evident to me. I'm so scared, though. I don't even know how to discover who my creator is, or how I would develop a true expression of my spiritual nature. Everything I've done up to now has been safe, and therefore meaningless, other than to get me to this point.

I'm putting this out into the world, lord, I'm asking for help. Help me find you, help me feel less lost. I need to serve you, no matter what the consequence. Hopefully, you can give me the strength to complete what you ask of me.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 2nd, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC)
Just by asking the Universe for assistance, and you are a willing walker, a path will be shown to you. A few of us cannot be happy at the fastfood take out window of Christianity. The Church has many years to work on several recipes that help to feed the masses, and keep them coming back for more. Unforntuately some older souls, and those who are banned from completely enjoying a meal, find them unfilfulling and empty.

Being an Eagle Scout, a Deacon of an Evangelical Lutheran church, and bible thumper, I didn't find self love. I found guilt, self hate, and discrimination as my old soul started to grow.

But that is enough about me... It's not wrong to think of the Divine as a Sexual entity. In many creation myths, the gods and goddess had sex, and gave birth to the universe. The act of creation, empowerment, intimacy are all strong bond builders that bring us closer to our view of the Divine. Having sex with your God isn't a bad thing at all.

I do have a book to share with you that can help you to develop and understand your Spiritual nature.... Gay Spirit Warrior, An Empowerment Workbook for Men who Love Men by John R. Stowe. You will find a lot of the sections similar to your profession, but the context is geared just for the gay soul. He doesn't focus on one religion either, but pulls from several. The other titles I have to offer are too focused on Pagan and Wiccan beliefs.

If you are interested in a few yahoo groups too let me know. Be forewarned, they are alot to read, and most of the time I just skim them for information.
May. 2nd, 2005 04:10 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you should mention that book. I went searching through by tubs of books the other day, looking for the Conservations with God series (which has somehow wandered off). Gay Spirit Warrior was one of the books I found instead. I decided to start with one of the other books, but maybe I'll move GSW to the head of the pile.

Thanks for your input. It helps when someone like you, who does appear to have an integrated spirituality, says keep going for it.
May. 3rd, 2005 03:03 am (UTC)
Well I wouldn't call it integrated. I would call it a love/hate relationship. Most if not all of my family attends the local Lutheran Church. I have a disagreement with the Church and it's current pastor, as they like to take the conservative view on gay marriage. So I don't attend services nor have taken communion for several years. This is the love/hate problem. They all love me because I am family, yet hate because I am gay. Paganism I found was most accepting of my sexuality, didn't fear sex, treated woman as equals, and accepted personal growth along a path. The idea of 'if it works for you, go for it' made me very happy. They also accepted the idea of a Gay/Queer Spirit. Something that I hold deeply true. There is something special about gay men and women, and our souls resonate with a deep spiritual understanding, if you allow yourself to open up to the Divine.
May. 2nd, 2005 02:12 pm (UTC)
Don't freak; this is normal
hawthorne_hobbit has a very good point. Reach out and ask the Universe to show you what you need. I know you used to meditate — this is a good time to take that up again. Try and make a connection with whatever/whoever it is that calls you. Don't be afraid to 'try on' various religions, to see what fits you.

If you can still take courses through a college, sign up for a comparative religions course. It could point you to a path you'd like to check out. Attend a couple of services at a Unitarian church. Hit the library and bring home a few religious texts and read 'em in the tub (with a glass of wine in the other hand, of course.)

Let go of 'supposed to', 'must', 'have to.' 'right,' 'foolish.' Feel it with your gut. Then turn around and point your critical thinking at it, to make sure it isn't bullshit. (bullshit being in the eye of the beholder, of course.) And there's nothing wrong with changing your mind.

I've been/am going through a similar searching myself. I feel a need for a connection to something greater, but at the same time still hold dear to my faith in science, in rationality, in fact. Makes it tough.

I've been through the Wicca thing, to generic Paganism, and think I've settled on Discordianism with a Buddist edge, so if you want any text suggestions for checking those out / ruling those out, just lemme know.

Don't rush this. Whoever is calling will know that you are seeking them, and it will probably be enough.
May. 2nd, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Don't freak; this is normal
I'm starting to think this was just a sign that it was time to stop dawdling, and really start working on this part of my life. Thanks for the support. I've never read the primary texts of different religions; I expect them to be as screwed up and as unapproachable as the bible.

Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who were okay with a stock answer to this question. Sigh.

In other news, we're having our reunion at the casino in my hometown. Do you two want to stay with me when you come?
May. 2nd, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Don't freak; this is normal
I think we're planning on staying at the casino, but thanks for the offer. I'm really looking forward to seeing you again. (Mom still asks about you, too.)
May. 3rd, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)
Re: Don't freak; this is normal
I am bothered by the hypocrisy in most religions,. I appreciate the sense of community they bring, but that can happen in other ways. (our neighborhood association has been great) I grew up going to church, and I enjoyed it.

I believe all religions, have lessons they can teach, but I don't believe in any of them. I think those that act like they do are deluding themselves. My brother, the minister, once told me, "You know, someone could just be making this all up." He also said that "it's God's will" is bullshit. (wonder what his congregation would think about that)

On the other hand, if religion helps people make sense of the world, or each other, or provides comfort, or a sense of community, it's a good thing.
May. 2nd, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure if this is what you need/want, but here I am with something to say. Something very inconclusive, just to warn you.

I was raised similarly, with no roots in religion. This never bothered me until recently, but not because of the whole god thing. It bothered me after some girl's house burned down. Her and her mother rented it, and they were left with nothing. This happened about a year ago in Mt P. Their church helped them out, gave them money and donations. I got thinking and became disturbed that I don't have that same sense of community. I don't have that sense of community at all, actually.

Anyway, I often miss that spiritual aspect of life, but I know that Christianity is not right for me. Something more pagan, or native american, or anything else seems more fitting for me. But anyway, I'm babbling and not quite sure where I'm headed. Have you seen I Heart Huckabees? You should, you really should. It's not what I expected at all from the trailers...
May. 3rd, 2005 03:19 am (UTC)
The surrender you describe is a fundamental human impulse, basic to all the great religious traditions. In fact, Islam means 'surrender'. The trick, as you suggest, is just how to go about it.

I thought of furnishing you with a reading list, but any list of mine would be woefully incomplete. There's so much out there. You could start with a study of the world religions, or of the things common to world religions. William James' classic, Varieties of Religious Experience, is one place to start. All the best to you.
Jun. 12th, 2005 12:08 am (UTC)
My path to personal spirituality was nearly that convoluted-and as I was spiritually abused and neglected as a kid, it took me many years to feel the need for a higher power. It was reading Pia Mellody's "Facing Codependence" that convinced me we all need a higher power, one that is not human-and it doesn't matter if we choose the cat, a God, or something in nature. We are born human and imperfect, and the sooner we "get" that, and accept it, the happier we can be-the sooner we can stop "shoulding" on ourselves. I didn't believe it at first, but I asked for help to believe and it promptly appeared. These days I call myself a practicing Buddhist, but I'm also philosophically Jewish and historically and socially Lutheran.

It was having visions during sex, specifically involving surrender, that first showed me the other side. For me, sex always is a doorway into sacred space. There's nothing in your post I find disturbing or at all unusual-we all come to faith by different paths.

You don't have to have God or a higher power (mine are called The Assembly of Higher Powers As I Understand Them) all figured out to believe, nor do you have to stay in subspace to surrender-they'll be patient and wait for you to figure things out, and will help you figure things out no matter how you see them.

For me, the most fundamental acts of faith begin with "Hello" and "Thank you".

Fairie G
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )