As we grow up and experience adolescence, or adulthood, many of us leave our religious beliefs behind. Or maybe we never had a childhood religion to leave behind. This can create the experience of having no beliefs at all.
Mother sent me as a young child to local Vacation Bible Schools every summer. That meant I spent a week each with Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, and the Church of Christers when I was quite young. The Catholics didn’t have Vacation Bible School and I never quite understood why.
I absorbed different things taught by different Christian Sunday School teachers in an unsophisticated format intended for preschool and elementary school children.
Elementary school influenced my religious beliefs, but not how you might think. This was the American Bible Belt in the early 1950’s. In the classroom each morning, right after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a student recited a prayer.
For some of my classmates, this experience may not have been so bad. For others, it was excruciating.
Standing in front of the class is hard on a lot of little kids. Standing in front of the class and reciting a prayer can be excruciating, especially if they don’t really know a prayer. It was hardest on the Catholics because they began and ended each session with the sign of the cross.
My memory always brings up Maria Talamantez when I recall the morning prayer. Standing at the head of the class, Maria appeared embarrassed, flustered, frightened. And, while she struggled with the Sign of the Cross and the Our Father, I was over at my desk praying quietly and fervently to God and Jesus and anyone else I could think of just thanking them that my name hadn’t been called that morning.
Meanwhile, Maria prayed as fast as she could and so quietly that she couldn’t be heard by most of us in the room. I don’t think the teacher cared, really. She was simply filling a slot required every morning and looked forward to escaping into a math exercise or reading a story.
For me, this was a time of pure torture. And I was so grateful that I was an Episcopalian because I didn’t use the Sign of the Cross. And the Episcopalian Lord’s Prayer seemed shorter and faster than Maria’s Roman Catholic version.
This is part of my journey into adulthood.
Both adolescents and adults spend time thinking and rethinking things they read, heard, and believed as children.
To dismiss these experiences as part of the move into adulthood is a gross oversimplification.
Abandoning our childhood beliefs can be difficult. It’s challenging to move beyond the childhood religious stories we either grew up with or didn’t experience at all.
As a pre-adolescent, I attended a Catholic School in my middle-school years. (The Sisters didn’t call it middle school.) Sister Athanasius had a whole list of books we weren’t supposed to read. And, since I wasn’t from a Catholic family, Sister suspected every book she saw me carry.
Several years later, as a student at St. Mary’s University, I found all of those books she was looking for in my book bag. They were in the university library, sitting on those shelves for the students. Amazing! Forbidden fruit in middle school became the main course in college.
Later in life, my best Reiki therapy and Reflexology students admitted to me that they were struggling with their meaning-of-life path.
Now, as an octogenarian, I find myself smitten with Mother Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ.
If you find yourself at a moment in time where you are taking a look at your life, now can be a good opportunity to explore your childhood teachings. They may be holding you back from focusing on things you otherwise might be interested in.
This place in time opens an opportunity for self-care.
As an adult, you can slow down, seek the solitude, and listen to the silence. Allow your intuition and life experiences to guide you along your path.
The answers you seek may not come immediately but they are there. As you journey on your path, you may encounter changes to your lifestyle which help you connect with your own truth.
You can develop an understanding of your own experience.
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Want more information on self-care? Check out some older articles on this blog.
You may also enjoy my YOUTUBE shows: “Let’s Live with Thurman Greco”
Visit the website and see what books might interest you. The first edition of “But for Gabriel” is available as an eBook.
Finally, include a Reiki therapy or reflexology session this week.
Let me start this article this way: Self-forgiveness is never easy.
I’ve written about self-forgiveness before. It’s a theme for me – even though I didn’t realize it when I began writing. It’s definitely a part of my books and essays on wellness and hunger.
I have forgiveness chapters in all of my books. My two favorite chapters are in “The Ketchup Sandwiches Chronicles” beginning on page 103 and 145.
These two chapters focus on two real people and the voyages they traveled while seeking self-forgiveness.
Begin self-care with a few questions:
Who am I in this community? In this country? On this planet?
Remember: My community, my country, and my planet have value. I believe the value is greater than the sum of all of us combined.
Self-care means joining the community of the planet. Everyone, without exception, has value and a role to play.
No one, not even the least of us, is irrelevant. No one, not even the greatest of us, is above it all. Being rich or poor simply isn’t part of the equation.
Self-forgiveness in the context of self-care is a journey where we become a part of something greater. We don’t write off people and situations. We challenge, encourage, love.
Self-forgiveness allows us to not always be at our best.
Self-forgiveness includes renewal and support.
Self-forgiveness can be a calling.
When you sign onto the journey of self-forgiveness, you’ll travel to places you’ve never been before. You may find yourself involved in activities and events for which you may not be quite prepared.
You can’t complete a self-forgiveness journey with an isolated incident like you would complete a puzzle or word game. It is a part of a process.
Forgiveness is always a challenge. Everyone seeks forgiveness and self-forgiveness is the hardest part.
How does it work? Well, do what you can with what you have. Work where you are. A good starting point is to sketch your community.
Really, what you’re doing is muddling through. Frankly, I think that’s how self-forgiveness works. This journey is not going to be perfect. At times, it may seem overwhelming. Other times, it may seem simply like a blank page. Self-forgiveness comes with very few maps. Certainly, there is no GPS.
Forgiveness is a journey with its own timetable. There may be surprise stops along the way. That’s because forgiveness has its own messages and meaning.
A bottom line is this: Forgiveness is for you and you alone. When you forgive someone, you are not forgiving them for them. You are forgiving them for you.
And, that’s what self-care is all about: YOU.
Self-forgiveness happens when you move beyond your thoughts and memories to a new place. At that moment, you see things differently. Sometimes this new place can be a sort of miracle.
This happens when you see your open heart and embrace new hopes and blessings. After a few moments, you may also hear things in a new way.
This is true change. True change, and self-forgiveness, happens when you face the same condition that caused you to behave in a way unacceptable to yourself and now you see things differently.
You break out of your past.
You’ve changed. You are a different person.
You wake up and claim your self-forgiven reality.
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To hear stories of healing and of hunger, tune into YouTube. There are several segments where I read the stories. It is one thing to read the stories and another thing entirely to hear them. ENJOY
When traveling on your self-forgiveness journey, I recommend you include regular reflexology and Reiki sessions. Spiritual journeys include physical, mental, and emotional changes as well. Your feet are a command center of your body. They need consideration and attention during this time.
If you have questions, contact me at email@example.com