By David Joel Miller.
Do you wish you believed but can’t? Want to find a higher power?
There is no doubt that having a religious or spiritual belief can be a great comfort in times of trouble. I have no quarrel with those of you who have some sort of understanding of a higher power, but I know there are lots of you out there who want to believe and just can’t.
There may be a good reason why you find it so hard to believe. There may also be a solution.
You may be one who describes yourself as a recovering Baptist, a recovering Catholic or some other religious label. You grew up in a religion, but it doesn’t fit. You learned the creeds and rituals but the higher power was not someone you would want for a friend, let alone worship. Try as hard as you could you just can’t believe in that religion’s God.
You may have grown up in a home where religion was not practiced. Where the altar was a Television set and the higher power you worshiped was things. You would like more, some deep spiritual connection but you can’t find one.
You may look at the world’s religions and wonder why they all say they worship a higher power and they all hate each other so much. You try to adopt the religion of your family, your ancestors or your country. My people always believed this way so I am supposed to. But it just does not work for you. You ask yourself if you had been born on in a different country on another continent would you worship a different God?
You know there has to be a solution, and there is, but you can’t find that higher power that is of any use in your life. You want to believe but you just can’t.
You may consider yourself and agnostic, an atheist or a seeker who studies one faith after another. You may have adopted an unusual religion or rejected them all.
There is a solution and perhaps an example will help.
Say you grew up in a family that worshiped the Flamethrower God. This God hates everyone. He is always out to catch someone doing wrong and then fry them. He hates you and you fear him. He may even ask you to go into his service in some other country to rape, pillage and burn.
This God, so his followers say, hates everyone and thinks we are all evil and deserve to be punished. This is an easy God to twist to fit your ends. Parents use him to scare little kids at night into behaving. Politicians can use him to justify wars and war atrocities.
If you grew up indoctrinated in this belief, this “you are no good, no one is any good” culture, it is hard to see how this higher power could be of any use to you. The less this God knows of your whereabouts the better. Since you will never be any good you might as well do your worst.
In psychological terms, we call this a non-affirming home. There are plenty of religious leaders who use this system to keep control over their followers by telling them if you do not do everything I, as Gods special representative, tells you, God will get you.
Sometimes we call these Cults and Fanatics but they can just as easily be a part of a large dominant religion.
So what do you do?
Here is a suggestion, not an original one, but one I have heard more than once.
If you could find that ideal Higher Power, that God you so desperately need, what characteristics will that God have? Try to avoid any particular mental image, any characteristics that you have been told that someone else’s God has. Inside you how do you feel this Higher Power would be?
Write out a want ad for this Higher Power.
Wanted – One God must love me unconditionally, must be available 24-7 and in times of need. Does not need to solve my problems for me but must be willing to go with me through whatever I am going through. Must be willing to help me become the best person I can be and not judge me harshly if I can’t do everything perfectly the first time.
Now begin acting as if this Higher Power exists and now knows you are looking for your Higher Power. It also helps, as various Higher Powers are suggested to you, if you check back on your want ad and make sure that the powers that respond to this ad are really Higher Powers that will make you a better person, not some imposter that will take you off into doing things that you know are wrong just for someone else’s benefit.
Like any good loving relationship, this new Higher Power relationship will require some development. Consider including some sort of two-way communication with this power. Personally, I like the expression “prayer and meditation.” You pick the expression that works for you.
The usual caveat here. Some of you have very strong beliefs in this area. You will want to quote a particular religious book, tell me I MUST call my higher power by a particular name wear a certain piece of clothing and contribute money to a cause. You are entitled to your opinion but I am resistant to being told that my higher power told me wrong. If you need to prove I or anyone else is wrong then I am convinced you are insecure in your faith and need the rest of us to be wrong to make you right. I am old enough to be willing to be wrong some of the time.
What I would like to hear from some of my readers, if you care to share, is what has your higher power done for you? Has that relationship made you a better person? How would I know that better person when I see them in front of me?
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- Afraid to say pray? Spirituality, religion and a happy life (counselorssoapbox.com)