I never believed in God. At least the entity you most probably identify as God.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced religious spirituality. I was enrolled in Catholic institutions until I went to University. From 6 to 18, I went to church and celebrated every Catholic holidays. I prayed and went to mass dozens of times. I participated to hours of religious studies class. I've read the New Testament, some passages, several times. Through many people’s checklist, I looked like a good Catholic girl.
But here’s the thing : it was mandatory. At no point did I have a choice in this. And I didn’t really believe that if God existed, daydreaming when I was ordered to pray counted. It also seemed to be very forbidden to have doubts, and I had a lot of doubt and questions about God.
Oh boy, did they hate my questions.
“If everything has a meaning, what is the meaning of war? Of racism and poverty? Of infancy death?”
“If God created us equals, why were there religious wars? Why do we need to have just one religion?”
“If God created us, love us just as we are and forgive us all, why can we end up in hell?”
Yeah, I was that kid… And they didn’t like it one bit. I never had a straight up answer for any of those by the way.
I asked them to a few different teachers though, with different styles of answers, from evasive or blind proselytism to straight-up bullying.
It turns out that the only part of religion I was fond of, its moral principles, was sadly the part I most rarely encountered in Christians.
I don’t believe in karma either.
You see, in my family, we had a lot of death and tragedy. Cancers and tumors for all of her brothers in my heart-diseased paternal grand-mother generation. Her daughters both died quite young, one from multiple cancers for 20 years and the other from a terribly aggressive brain tumor at 36, leaving two kids under 12. My Mom lost her 8 years old little brother, killed by a drunk driver. I almost died and lost the use of my legs in a car accident the day before I turned 16. Just the peak of a tragic iceberg.
Believing that we all had what was coming for us, because of some past actions would have meant we had really been awful people. Actually, given the world we live in, it would, to me, have meant that we were all terrible people in past lives. And I wasn’t willing to believe that.
So I guess some would say I’m an agnostic. But I’m not sure ‘agnostic' includes the faith in a higher power. That, I definitely have, even if it only has been practiced for a few years. My spirituality was born through the practice of love, courage and creativity.
Two wonderful authors helped me define, shape and embody it.
The first one was Brene Brown, by offering me the first definition of spirituality that fit my experience of humanity and the world :
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning and purpose to our lives.”
Now, that was something I could get behind.
Because I never was one of those cynical people believing our lives are meaningless, and humans are cruel, shallow and only empowered by greed either.
Nihilists make me sad and want to hug them tight, tell them they are allowed to expect more from life than such emptiness.
Brene Brown sparked some hope that I hadn’t dared to lean on for years. She offered me the precious idea that I could be spiritual without being religious, which was truly revolutionary.
Until then, my intuition was telling me about things I never encountered in non-religious people, so much so, that I actually envied them for their faith in the future and humanity, but thought I lacked the spiritual gene.
Julia Cameron then allowed me to embody those ideas, she freed them from any bounds.
She dared me to do one task that changed me forever : she asked to write for a week about the reasons why I doubted God existed, and most importantly about the God I wanted to believe in.
And then, to experiment by believing in this version of God, and see what happens.
She describes how much Gods were usually seen as stern rigid parents, with very strict rules, punishing or rejecting us when we wouldn’t obey them.
Those rules rarely being very pleasant to follow, as if to be virtuous we needed to sacrifice most pleasure and fun.
She titillates us, daring us to be fearless and extravagant in our creativity and beliefs, like the Creator clearly seems to be the minute we look at the Creation.
How many kinds of beings are there? How many kinds of snowflakes, plants, flowers, colours? How many kinds of humans, cultures, languages? How many galaxies, planets, stars?
Did you know there’s a planet only made of diamond? One where it rains glass? One full of constant tornadoes?
Does it look in any way like the very stern Creator we’re taught to believe in?
When I was asked to do this exercise, my life was altered in ways I have a hard time putting into words.
So instead, here’s what I believe in, and how I practise spirituality.
I believe this higher power exists in some ways we can’t really comprehend, inside and outside of us, everywhere.
I believe we are here to experiment the Universe through our unique senses and abilities as a species.
I believe spirituality is the transcendance of meaning and imagination as humans, that it allows us to connect to a universal flow animals are very attuned to, but that we lose touch with, by fixating on reasoning.
I believe we connect to that flow through radical love in all forms, starting with ourselves.
That the more we love ourselves as we are, the more fiercely loving and caring we get, which leads us naturally to honoring our ancestors, respecting, caring and advocating for all of our fellow humans, but also through interspecies bonds, and a strong connection to the Universe itself, through our respect for our environment and communication with nature.
I believe the natural elements "talk" to us.
The only times my Grand father was really mad at us where when we were violent, including towards plants. As a girl, he made me apologize to flowers I stomped on by playing, for hurting them. I still see plants that way since. I speak to mine, I believe they grow and flourish better when I do.
I believe I create better art and am a better therapist when I wear jewelery with my favourite gemstones. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence if they are associated with serenity and faith for one, and love, courage and creativity for the other.
I believe art, through all of its forms and media connects us directly with the Universe.
I believe my tea tastes better in my favourite mug, and that food tastes better in more natural matter.
I believe the ants I let coexist in my flat are grateful for the food they find, and the spiders happily protecting us from many insects. I learn from and speak to them too, as I do with my cat.
I believe each time a human is kind to themselves and one another, we strengthen the loving energy surrounding the Earth. And that this energy will always be stronger than evil, because love speaks to humans in ways cruelty never will.
I believe that the Universe doesn’t punish us when we act badly, because the way we feel about ourselves for doing so is already painful enough. That even the most evil person is redeemable, that justice should therefore be restorative rather than punitive to be efficient.
I’m writing my most personal texts lately, because I did an exercise and visualized the entity called my Guide, very wise and unconditionally loving. I believe the tiny old woman who was talking to me next to that soothing waterfall was my great grand-mother.
When the voice of my coach told me she had a gift and some advice for me, she gave me an empty journal, and told me “My Love, it is time to write and tell them now. You don’t have to be fearful anymore”. So I started to write the most scary things I had to say, including this text.
And I believe that by doing so, I am allowing myself to connect to the universal flow we all experiment in our most courageous and loving endeavors, full of synchronicity, of incredible fateful meetings and opportunities.
I have no idea if any of this is true or not. It doesn’t matter, it’s not the point.
All I know is that since I started to see and practise spirituality that way, my life has never been better.
Not devoid of hardship or tragedy, I don’t believe that will ever happen, life is way more complex and random than this, it has to be for us to experiment it fully.
The more I live like this, embodying those beliefs, the more I feel blanketed in love and warmth.
The more I know from the bottom of my heart that no matter what happens, I can trust myself to go and grow through adversity. Not finding meaning in the tragedy, but in the struggle.
Which in my opinion, through all the grief and adversity I have already experienced, and the loneliness and powerlessness I stayed in, is one of the most beautiful and empowering ways to be alive.
And you, my Dear, what prevents you from believing in God? Which kind of God would you believe in?