Adulthood is one long voyage into uncertainty.
When I was a kid, I assumed adults had their shit together. Behind those big, translucent pink framed glasses, the moms of all my friends seemed to have a tidy sum of to-do lists that culminated in a well-oiled family machine. Mine certainly did.
My family was conservative evangelical, which translated to a solid confidence that we had all the answers.Especially about the really important stuff: heaven and hell, redemption vs eternal damnation. We also had the answers to a plethora of social ills (more patriarchy, less women’s lib was the basic premise). And there was no room for doubt or questioning. The inspired Word of God meant directly from God to us, no takebacks. Not a lot of wiggle room there.
Truth be told, I am a person who rests easy in certainty. A dogmatic worldview suited me–even though that same worldview condemned me. Because for sure, at 15 years old, I had sexual desires that were “sinful.” I was angry and afraid. I had anxiety so intense that it was hard for me to function on a daily basis–which I was certain meant I simply lacked enough faith for God to heal me from my own demons. Or maybe it was punishment for my lack of purity. Or maybe–and this was the most horrifying for me–maybe I wasn’t “saved” enough?
What I was most certain of, though, was that I was at fault. Somehow. Some way. In all the ways, really. “Original sin” meant I was broken, that the world was broken, and needed fixing. I could never be enough. Not without Jesus. And Jesus had rules.
A revision of my story, one I’d like a lot better than the truth, would be that I went to college, saw the abundance of ways a person can embrace religion & spirituality, and shook off that pesky false idol of certainty for good.
But that’s not what happened.
I spent years of my adulthood, almost 20 years in fact, trying to regain some of that elusive certainty that I’d found in Christianity. I tried less dogmatic churches–but those were still completely willing to debate my humanity and full inclusion as an LGBTQ person. I tried churches that welcomed questions. Churches that celebrated by gaiety. But none of it clicked.
Because it all circled back to certainty for me.
And what I’d been afraid to admit (even to myself) was that the only thing I was certain of was that I just didn’t believe. Not even the most basic things that Christianity wanted me to believe.
Which just left me with the mystery of it all.
I had to learn to utter the most loathsome words to a Virgo: “I don’t know.” And then I had to get real comfortable with the unknown (I”m still working on that part). I was going to have to forge my own path, it seemed.
Crafting my own path means I often get stuck, stymied by too many options. With no clear, consistent outside “leader,” no dogma to subscribe to, I’ve had to learn to rely on my own inner compass.
Which is scary for a perfectionist–because what if I do it wrong?
Sometimes, when I’ve dwelled in a liminal space for a long enough time, the Universe will send me something to nudge me along. This time the nudge arrived in a book entitled Sex Cult Nun (a hell of a title for a nudge!).
I am a sucker for all things religion. I’m fascinated by what people believe and why. And my curiosity goes into overdrive when it comes to cults. I think that’s because we like to believe we’d never get taken in by something so dubious, so illogical. That we’d never cede our own power like those people. But that’s what’s ultimately so frightening: people that seem so perfectly average can get sucked right in. Can begin to justify all sorts of questionable behaviors, all kinds of abuses of power, in the name of service to an ideology, to a guru, to fear.
Sometimes I still get angry at myself for all the times I surrendered my own logic and my own moral compass in favor of certainty. But now I understand that love and fear cannot coexist. And, when I’m feeling hamstrung by a strong personality or by someone trying to usurp my moral compass, I’ll can check their rhetoric against logic. And against my own inner knowing.
Because when things seem too black and white, there’s often someone trying to offer certainty in an ever-shifting world–and it’s never worth the price they’re asking.
I suppose all this is to acknowledge that I’m finally ready to heed the call to take control of my own spirituality. To do the work that moves me toward the spark of the divine in me. In the Universe. The one that connects us with each other.
My spiritual path over the last few years keeps pushing me toward my biggest challenge: trusting my own inner wisdom. The overwhelming truth for me (in philosophy–practice is something else all together) is that I know what I need. I just have to be still enough, listen hard enough, to hear my own inner wisdom. And trust me, that’s a hell of a challenge for a perfectionist who longs for clear answers & doesn’t want to get it wrong.
But the only certainty I’ve found in this journey is messy, vibrant uncertainty.
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