I was raised the daughter of a minister. When I was young I had no problem believing all that was told to me of god and Jesus. And in my young mind, god was very frightening and Jesus signified love and kindness. Jesus spoke of love, whereas god spoke of rules and laws and of a punishment to an eternal hell. The way my mind reasoned it, Jesus stood between god and I in order to protect me from god’s many wraths. I would speak to Jesus but tried to ignore the existence of god.
I can remember once, at about the age of 10, the church decided to have a movie night. I remember being excited about this new format for an evening service. That excitement would soon turn to sadness and a feeling of hopelessness after the first night’s showing of this film series. The effects of the film produced fear and many nights filled with terror and nightmares. Over forty years later I still quiver when remembering the film and the terror it produced in me.
The film was about the final day, (judgement day) on earth and the punishment for not obeying God’s laws. And in our church, there were many things which constituted sin. To name just a few…. Instrumental music in church (no piano, organ, or guitar was ever allowed in the church my father presided over), dancing, swimming with the opposite sex, drinking, smoking, etc, etc. etc. And since I was taught that there are no big or small sins, the punishment for disobeying any would be severe… an eternity in hell.
In one scene from the movie, Jesus descends from heaven and hovers over a crowd of people. Some of the crowd begin to rise into the sky and disappear into the clouds. Those were the lucky ones, they were being lifted to heaven. But as I sat in that church pew and watched, I was sure I would not be in that group once that day of judgement came.
Those who were left, those who had “sinned”, tried to run and hide. Their faces were contorted in anguish, guilt and fear. I saw only my own quilt in those tormented faces. I was certain my fate would be the same as those left behind. Mine would be the same as those I watched on that movie screen who suddenly had the realization of the horrors which awaited them. There was no escape, I too would one day live this nightmare, and I too would be among those who ran to hide as the world began to become engulfed in flames.
The sounds coming from the movie’s audio were of anguished screams. Those screams were now inside of me as I sat and watched in silent fear. At the tender age of 10, I knew that was my group. There was no joy in this film, it did not teach of love nor of the beauty that exists in our world when we are loving to one another. No, it was a warning of the impending doom of sinners… of me. It was a story of separation, of “we are the good guys, you are the bad”
I, even as a child, knew I could never be “that good”. My life was just beginning and already our religion taught me to believe I was a sinner, already I was gripped by fear. Fear overshadowed love, and since the two cannot live side by side in harmony, it was from fear that I based many decisions as I began to live my life. My fear began with God and his judgements of me and continued to grow in many other directions as I grew.
How did we as a society let this insanity continue? How did we continue to believe all that was told to us, all that had been handed down thru the centuries, without questioning the logic of what we were being taught to believe? Few of us question anything, we follow by reasoning to ourselves that “they” are the authorities, the experts on the subject. It is easy this way, we don’t have to study and search for truth… we don’t have to think. And so most have continued to follow and blindly believe. How did we accept fear as being the driving force of our lives and not love. How did we not see the insanity of fear and realize that it was only fear that stopped us from truly living our lives.
Throughout our lives we develop quite a collection of fears. Fear of failure, fear of not performing well in school, sports or the workplace. Fear of not finding love, of losing love, of not having enough money, fear that someone will be better or have more than us, fear that we will not be liked or that we are not pretty, intelligent, or good enough in one way or the other. Fear of the past and fear of the future.
We were taught many things which go against the logic of love. Love is the opposite of fear, and with love fear cannot exist. And yet, we continue to live each day with fear racing in and out of our thoughts. Every negative thought we have is formed from some aspect of fear and every positive thought we have is produced from love. How did life become fear against one another instead of love for one another?
My fear began with god and ended with god. The god that was taught to me through churches, political agendas, and through society is of a god to be feared. He is a god of punishment… A god who demands complete obedience and if it is not given, he is a god who will give the severest of punishments and torture ever imagined… an eternity, never to stop, continuing forever and ever, of the wrong doer burning in hell.
How is believing this logical? Does the bible not say that we are god’s children. Any parent knows that no matter what wrong their child may do, they could never punish forever and certainly not to this extreme. Does the bible not teach love? forgiveness? How then can an act such as this go along with these teachings? Are we to believe that god is a hypocrite, a tyrant, a dictator, a narcissist needing only his own glory as being the most important.
I know there are many who want me to listen to their words. And I suspect there have been many less intelligent than them whose words they have listened to. As I said earlier, it is easiest to just believe the words of the so called experts. There is no effort needed, we can just accept and go on with our lives. But this is the way fear is born and continues to be passed from one generation to another. So how can continual acceptance ever lead us to happiness since much of what we accept is laced with fear. Instead of listening to the words and interpretations of others, why do we not listen to our own logic and reason? Why do we not listen with our hearts to that which resonates within our souls?
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The previous is a quote from the bible, does it resonate with your soul that a god who would include these words in his book could then want you to believe he is the opposite of these words. Does it make sense to you that in the bible he states that he gives us free will and yet if we choose to use that free will we are doomed to torture. We have been taught to believe a loving god could turn so coldly against love, how is this not insane? How would it be possible to speak of such love and beauty and then judge with such harshness and cruelty.
There is a Cherokee Indian story of a grandfather telling his grandson of two wolves who live in each of us, each wolf battling for control of us. The good wolf is everything that love is (goodness, kindness, gentleness, mercy…). The bad wolf is everything that comes from fear, from our ego’s (jealousy, hatred, anger, pain…) In the story, the grandson asks which wins. His grandfather’s answer, “the one you feed”.
We must choose which wolf to feed, the bad wolf or the good wolf. For centuries we have been trying to live our lives by feeding both wolves. We can never have the happiness we search when we feed the bad wolf. Only by consciously choosing to feed the good wolf can we have our dreams fully realized. Feeding the good wolf... what does that truly mean? Our thoughts lead to our actions, our actions reflect our character. What we put into ourselves in thought becomes deeds which becomes what we live… fear or love.
If our religions and governments were operating from love rather than fear, 4 children would not die every minute of every day from starvation in this world. Things will begin to change when we wake from the ego induced nightmare and begin going inside ourselves. If we choose love, we can change our inner world to peace, tranquility, and beauty which in turn would one day change our outer world to the same.
As I stated earlier, my fear began with god and ended with god. My search for truth has taken me on a long journey away from the god of fear from my youth. Away from the god taught to me by stories handed down thru the generations. We have been told to both fear and love god and yet together they can only produce confusion and more fear, never peace.
The god I know is known from my soul, not from the nightmares of my childhood. For me, god is not about religious doctrine or dogma. God is not about which beliefs this religion or that group of people holds. It is quite simply about knowing love to be god... and god to be love. And with that knowing, how is anything else about the many different religions and it’s doctrines even necessary? It is not a belief that is the issue , it is an experience with love, with the deep truth which can be found in me… it can be found in each of us.
I created this piece in the hopes that when you look a second time you will see a woman's face and be reminded that we are all connected to each other and everything.
The God I Know
It is not through fear,
my God seeks his praise.
But thru love and kindness,
that's his wish for our days.
He fills man's heart with love,
this is all that we need.
Man fills his heart with fear,
and his soul with greed.
As the greed of man grows,
the love is pushed out.
Man is left with his ego,
his fear and his doubt.
No longer can he listen,
to the whispering of his heart.
his ego shouts "No"
it wants no other part
For most of his life,
man runs here and there.
His ego needs more,
it wants it's fair share.
Man says to himself,
“Soon, maybe tomorrow.
Once I get this and that,
it'll be the end of my sorrow”
Fear cannot calm a heart,
only love can do this
So man lives without joy
afraid to dream or to wish
The God I know wants more,
that man may wake and see.
It is only with love and kindness,
one can live happy, joyous and free.
~ Teresa Weier