08/18/2014 11:04 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Finding God as a Fallen Catholic

Typically, I avoid discussing religion and God as a rule. It makes me uncomfortable simply because I believe that we all have our own routes to God/The Universe/Spirituality. I believe it's an incredibly intimate relationship and that it's different for everyone. Sometimes, people don't discover it at all, and that's okay, too. Discovery and faith happens when we're ready.

The reason I feel the need to discuss this topic now is I've made a life-altering, freeing discovery that I feel is cathartic for me to share and possibly helpful to you. I found out that no matter what we believe, He's still here loving us all the same. (Side note: I will be saying He and God, but please free to insert God, Universe, Spirituality, Energy, etc. as you feel is appropriate to you.)

It took me a long time to realize this fully because I grew up in a strongly Catholic Italian family where traditions, rules, and rituals were to be followed and not questioned. Growing up this way led me to form incredibly unhealthy beliefs about the nature of God and life in general. I had this horrible perception that God was just watching and waiting for me to f*ck up so that he could punish me for it. I felt pressured to be perfect because I thought I'd go to hell otherwise. I thought he was judging not only my every move, but my every thought as well. It became incredibly strangling and suffocating living life this way.

Church is where my ritualistic thinking began. Sit down, stand up, kneel, say this prayer word for word, repeat. I didn't feel connected to God but instead felt compelled to start repetitions of my own that turned into obsessive compulsions. Interestingly, when I was diagnosed with OCD, my psychiatrist said that most of her OCD patients grew up Catholic.

Mind you, with all this said, Catholicism works for some people, and that's great. I would never disrespect another's spiritual route; I just hope that the respect is reciprocated. Personally, Catholicism or any human-organized religion hasn't, doesn't, and won't work for me. Religion is a human construct; sure, it has been inspired by spirituality, but constructed by humans, nonetheless. Rules and limitations have been put on God through it, thereby clouding His true essence. I won't deny that some of these rules have been a necessity for some and that this structure has served as a form of guidance. For that role it plays, I applaud religion. However, when religion masks the fact that we will never truly know and understand God, that's when we land in trouble. When we think we know all the answers, that's when we are truly ignorant.

Admittedly, church had tainted my perception of God and spirituality for many years. I turned away for a long time yearning to fend off the unhealthy idea that I was going to go to hell and that I had to feel guilty for every action and thought I had. It was only through yoga that I started to rediscover Him. It was during a time of complete mental clarity and emotional calm that I started to realize there was something in me and out there bigger than I had ever known. I started to feel connected somehow to God, the Universe and spirituality; I wasn't able to say exactly what it was or define the connection, and that was okay. All I know is that it was there.

From that point on, I've taken my time developing my relationship with God. I've had my doubts, my questions, my fears bubble to the surface periodically. I remind myself there's no way for me to know any of the answers to my questions right now. The only thing I can know is what I feel in my heart to be true and that no one can tell me how to feel.

It has been through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, nature, intuitive readings, and crystal healings that I've been able to realize something deep, true, and simple: God is love. That's it. He's not sitting on some giant golden throne, judging me, awaiting the moment he can throw a thunderbolt at me. Nope. He is simply infinite love. He is all around and inside of each of us. I don't wish to preach anything because, again, I truly believe we each have to come to our own spiritual paths individually. You can't just be told these things; you have to find it and believe it on your own. The fact of the matter is there are many paths to God, each of them different and unique to each person. Buddha even said to believe nothing unless it aligns with your truth. Follow your truth, and you will find God.


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