Don’t judge me for this, but I feel blessed that I was raised by parents who did not have the same spiritual beliefs. My mother became Catholic in her mid-20’s after multiple occasions singing with the Catholic Church. My father was pretty much an atheist.
Neither parent bestowed their spiritual beliefs on us kids. Thank God. My mother is a very private Catholic. I remember the little shrine she set up with rosemary beads and a mini statue of the virgin Mary in her bathroom growing up. And each time we got in the car to go somewhere, she would say a little prayer underneath her breath and do the hand gesture for the sign of the cross. When we were going through something a little harder than usual, she would take us 3 kids to the nearby mission, say a little prayer, and then make each of us light a candle.
And as for my father, who was a very scientific/engineering type of person, he never insisted on whether his belief or my mom’s belief was the right one. Thank God again.
So that was the extent of my ‘religious’ experience growing up.
I felt fortunate to have an empty slate, so to speak, to determine my own beliefs. When I was in college, my mom insisted I go to church with my grandmother, in the hopes that I’d meet a nice, Chinese boy. So I did. But my ‘why’ for going was definitely not to meet a nice Chinese boy. I really wanted to learn about the different religions that people believed in. I wanted to hear what the leader of the church talked about and ‘preached’.
My takeaway was that some of the things he said totally resonated with me, while other things he said I questioned. But the major takeaway I got from going, was the sense of community. I could see why people wanted to go to church and believe in a common belief. A sense of belonging. A sense of goodness. A sense of being loved.
Then for the next 2 decades, I went about creating the best life I could for myself and for the people I cared about. Never really thinking too much about what my spiritual beliefs were. But whenever I was going through a really tough time, where I felt stuck and frustrated and exhausted because nothing seemed to be working, I would write in my journal “God, please give me the strength to overcome this”. I didn’t say “God, please give me a child” when I wasn’t getting pregnant. I didn’t say “God, please give me a raise” when I felt I got screwed at work. And I didn’t say “God, please help me and my husband stop fighting” when we just couldn’t seem to communicate.
What I realized much later on, was that “God please give me the strength to overcome this” was actually an act of self love. Because in this statement, I am asking God to empower me with what I need to do to overcome my situation. What greater gift could your God, your universe or your spirit give to you than the gift to empower you to help yourself?
And when you realize that no one or nothing is coming to rescue you, guess what? You figure it out. If you want something bad enough, you will figure it out. Just ask my young adult children.
Fast forward another decade, and now I clearly see the light of God, universe and spirit. The light is connected with the love you have within. Love for yourself. Love for your family. Love for your fellow human being.
But the love you have for yourself is the game changer in life. I know, some of you may be thinking of the person in your life who loves himself a little too much, right? That’s not the kind of love I’m talking about here. As a matter of fact, that person who seems to love himself a little too much is likely overcompensating for a lack of something else. Selfish love is not true love.
When you have true love for yourself, you will want to take better care of your whole health. You will want to only have whole healthy relationships. You will want to work on your personal growth so that life as you know it keeps getting better and better. You will want to only settle for work that makes you want to get out of bed each morning with positive energy.
And, you will give yourself patience and grace whenever you are struggling. You will create the inner balance that is needed in order for you to overcome and be content with your choices with no regrets.
So whatever your spiritual belief is, I ask you to dig a little deeper, and see if there’s a way to connect it to giving more true love and compassion to yourself first. Because then and only then can you reach out to others with a genuine giving heart and soul, and create more love out there. And God only knows, we need more of that in the world we live in today.
Sending you love and light