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Recognizing God

I recommended a book about healing to another cancer survivor recently, and within an hour she sent me an email that said, “I don’t believe in God and so far this book has mentioned God three times. I hope this won’t continue.” I chuckled when I saw it because there was a time I might have said something similar. Even though I have prayed for as long as I can remember, and always believed in some kind of higher power, I have struggled with a label for my beliefs – still do actually. And definitely struggled with whether or not I believed in God. Turns out, I do, but not the God that I learned about in Sunday school.

Am I a Christian? If that means I believe Jesus had a unique significance, then maybe I am. But I believe that about Buddha and other enlightened beings as well. I blanch at the idea that Jesus “died for my sins,” and even at the thought that I am a miserable sinner for which anyone needed to die to begin with. Furthermore, I get extremely uncomfortable when asked if I am “saved,” if I “know” Christ, or when asked to put myself in a category that I’m just not sure about. On dating websites, I have always checked the spiritual, but not religious box, and that is the best way to describe me for sure.

After my Bible belt upbringing in a family that was decidedly not religious, but a community that definitely was, I pretty much rejected anything that had to do with “church,” until I discovered Unitarian Universalism through friends. Based on seven principles that I can get behind and no dogma, and welcoming of all people, regardless of their belief or lack thereof, this was a community I could embrace. Though I read the Bible from cover to cover as a teenager, it was more as a great story than a prescription for my life. I’ve been frustrated by the literal interpretation many have of the Bible, and the lack of understanding of Jesus’ teachings which has led to so much hatred and judgment rather than love, which is what I believe God is really all about.

When I first picked up A Course In Miracles several years ago, I loved the messages and got tripped up by the “Biblesque” language and even feel of the book with it’s onion-skin paper. Often, I used terms such as “the universe,” “spirit” and an ambiguous gender identity God because they seemed closer to my image than picturing some white guy in the sky with a long beard who may or may not reach down to smote me if I do something wrong, and who, according to some, was engineering the second coming of his son to take all the “true believers” to their reward while the rest of us burned in a fiery pit somewhere for eternity. Nope, definitely can’t get behind that.

So what do I believe? I believe in intelligent design AND evolution. I believe heaven and hell aren’t physical places we go to, but states of mind we create right here on Earth. I believe Jesus was the son of God, and so am I. He came here to show us what was possible, and that we too had the power to perform miracles in our own lives. I believe that God lives inside of me (and everyone), and that the Holy Spirit represents my own higher self, and will guide me to make the best decisions for my greatest good if I can silence my ego enough to hear it. I believe I have been here before in many different bodies, but that my soul is eternal. I know that I am a spiritual being in a human body and not the other way around.

I believe salvation isn’t something you earn by your external actions (showing up in church on Sunday, tithing, praying regularly, confessing, etc), but something you find through your internal actions (your own communion with your better nature and the death of the ego, the thoughts you embrace and the limits you let go of). I believe I can have a direct relationship with God, and don’t need an intermediary. I believe God is pure love and nothing else, and I can be too if I want to badly enough. I believe we can heal ourselves by listening to that inner wisdom, releasing the limiting beliefs we hold and recognizing our own perfect wholeness.

I have written about faith and healing before, but I haven’t quite shared this directly about what I believe. Sadly, this type of discussion is often taboo. We aren’t supposed to talk about our beliefs in polite company, and there is a fear of offending someone or starting an unwelcome debate, or having our beliefs challenged or questioned. I’m not looking for any of that, but I am letting go of my fear of sharing what I believe. Because I also believe when we teach, we learn, and that we need to share in order to further our own growth and development.

Cancer was like rocket fuel for my spirituality, not because I suddenly found God in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, but because I suddenly recognized the divine within myself. I saw illness (eventually) as my body’s loving way of bringing my attention to those patterns in my life that weren’t working. The dis-ease in my life was giving me symptoms in the form of tumors, and I needed to find a way to have more ease on a regular basis. I’m thrilled that I have now done that, and can help others find it as well. I recognize God now – not as a judgmental, vengeful entity waiting to unleash his wrath upon me – but as the loving, benevolent, masculine/feminine energy that is guiding me to see my own perfection and wholeness – my eternal, spiritual presence that in this lifetime has appeared in the skin bag called Tracy Maxwell.

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