My spiritual journey

Because so much of my recent life has been primarily spiritual, I think it’s important to sit down and trace out the path I’ve taken. 

 

My entire family is Lutheran (Wisconsin Synod).  I was baptized as a baby, and then spent my childhood going to a Lutheran grade school (through 8th grade) and also going to Saturday school (like sunday school, but saturday) at my home church.  That means I had religion 7 days a week.  In fairness to my parents, the reason we went to private school was due to our local school district being less than stellar, and our church paying the full tuition.  Therefore, academically it was the appropriate choice.

 

I rebelled early on, though I’m not sure what I was rebelling against exactly.  I started listening to heavier music in fifth grade and by sixth was heavily into bands like guns n roses.  It gave me an escape from my school life.  During this time I was a good student, and I’ve always considered myself a pretty good kid, but I don’t do well when my freedoms are being squashed.  So as the school tried to keep us in line, my friends and I found ways to step over it.  When they said no rock t-shirts, we wore them under flannel shirts (thanks to the grunge movement lol)  We swore a lot, and tried to be older than we were.  At one point we were in the principle’s office once a week for ‘counseling’ after a note was intercepted.  It was all quite humerous for me, because I knew I wasn’t going down a bad path, I just wanted some freedom and was going to take it.

 

Entering the public school system in 9th grade was an interesting turning point.  I had a few friends from school, but we were drifting apart since I had my music to turn to.  During this time my karate instructor also found god, and we had a christian karate club, which included bible study.  In some ways I got closer to my faith, but problems also arose.  For instance, I never felt comfortable talking about my faith with people.  In the demos I was lucky enough to talk about staying away from drugs and alcohol, and avoiding faith all together.  Looking back on it, I think it’s because I knew what I had been taught didn’t sit right with me, but I didn’t have the words to understand this.  Instead I just played along and really tried to figure out what god was all about. 

 

Then, my senior year of high school, a big wrench was thrown into my religion.  As Ellen Degeneres was coming out, so was I.  It’s funny to look back on at this point, because it took a celebrity coming out publicly to finally put the pieces together inside my own head.  But it worked.  And then I had to really figure things out.   I knew that homosexuality was considered wrong by religion, but I also knew that this finally felt right.  Since I’m a book person, I headed over to the library and tried to find out where the breakdown in communication came.  There are some very scholarly books that research the bible’s statements on homosexuality within context of the time period, and with the translation issues.  From that I had all I needed to know, which was that god doesn’t hate me, and I’m not wrong. 

 

During my freshman year of college we were required to take a class called world cultures, which examines culture through literature.  In ancient times this means religious texts.  I was exposed to writings like the Tao, the Gita, and the bible among others.  It opened my eyes to new spiritual ideas, which broadened my ideas of what could really be going on in life. 

 

I left college after a year to join the Marine Corps.  Spirituality has a different purpose in boot camp than in the civilian world.  For one, it’s the only break you get from the yelling and the constant surveillance.  And two, it’s the only time you can touch another recruit and not get into trouble.  It’s amazing how much a hug can help you out with your day!   I found that church was very helpful in relieving stress, and I needed that spiritual connection in the midst of the very physical and mental experience of boot camp.  It also helped that they never discussed hell, because quite simply we were already in it!  Church was meant to reassure us, and encourage us to continue with training and life, which is really what it should always be! 

 

After boot camp I found the Metropolitan Community Churches, a group of churches meant primarily to allow people of all sexualities to come together in a safe and comfortable place and worship.  I really enjoyed this experience.  Again we focused on love, not hate.  We sang songs that lifted us up, and I found a respite from the hiding I had to do in training. 

 

During this time I continued to read random books, mostly regarding sexuality so I could understand myself and the history of my people better.  I was also struggling with my gender identity, and found great help in the writings of Leslie Feinberg.  Reading about the history of transgendered people, I learned about all the ways the Christian church tried to destroy anyone who was different.  Upon learning this history, I really couldn’t bring myself to go to any church, not even MCC.  I know that it was a long time ago, but I just couldn’t do it. 

 

This left a spiritual vacuum in my life, which sent me searching.  I returned to writings like the Tao and read a lot about wicca.  Nothing really fit though, so I continued to search.  I joined the Jedi realist movement, which exposed me to many different philosophies and ways to live.  One book that helped me out quite a bit was Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior.  I think it’s a good place to start thinking about how to live a peaceful life in this modern world.  Then, one day the same person who started me with Dan Millman recommended I read Conversations with God.  I was highly resistant, because I didn’t want to read anything telling me to be a Christian.  But, he convinced me to give it a try.  I brought it with me on my trip to the South Pole, and made it most of the way through.  I found most things resonated with me, and made me relax about the worry about where I was at in life.  However, something didn’t sit right towards the end of the book, and I put it down for about a year.  I don’t even remember what it was, so it was clearly just a temporary resistance, and probably a misunderstanding. 

 

Sometime about a year and a half ago, my aunt sent me a book, Table in the Presence, about a Chaplain who was among the first units into Iraq.  In this book truly miraculous things occur, and they made me think about our concept of god.  So, I went to the only source that had told me truth up to this point, and that was the Conversations with God series (CWG).  I started reading book 2 online, and couldn’t stop.  It appeared that I was finally ready to know, and understand, what god was about.  Over the next few months I read everything I could, and started to change the way I acted.  I began to understand the connection between my thoughts, beliefs, and actions, and knew that if I really wanted my life to go smoothly I would have to cut out all the negativity and focus on my goals.  And, it definately worked.

 

The book that marked my transformation into this time is definately Ask and It Is Given, by Esther and Jerry Hicks.  Abraham, the group of beings that speaks through Esther, explains the way the universe works in simple language.  It’s easy to remember, and simple to apply, though not always easy.  Applying the laws of the universe to my life is changing my life in very real ways.  Carrie’s dreams resonate with me, and we both believe them to be visions of the future rather than wishful thinking.  Those posts in my blog are passworded, however, out of Carrie’s request.  However, I do have other examples of how my life has been affected by this change in thinking and acting. 

 

At this point in my life, I really feel, more than ever before, that not only am I on the right path, but it’s becoming more clear and smooth.  It’s an amazing feeling, and one I hope others can find through my own experience.  I know that not everything I believe is true, but it’s true to me right now.  And in time, as I grow and learn, I’ll tweak these beliefs, or throw them away all together if they don’t fit who I am.  I don’t think that will happen, but I have to leave the possibility open. 

 

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m a very open person and will answer any questions someone has.  So don’t be afraid to ask.  🙂

15 Responses to “My spiritual journey”

  1. SurfaceEarth Says:

    As always, it is an act of courage to write about spirituality. Just found your site today, we plan to read through much more. We also are familiar with the CWG books, very inspiring.

  2. simpleguidance Says:

    Just found your site and am new to blogging. Looks like you have the right answer to all of this, ” I’ll tweak these beliefs, or throw them away all together if they don’t fit who I am.”

    I look at this a wisdom. Doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Its practical spituality. thanks for the reminder.
    E Hanson

  3. SurfaceEarth Says:

    Coincidence. I have just thought and said at times the last two days, I find it easier to say what shouldn’t be done, then what should.

  4. butchjax Says:

    Thank you for your replies. I apologize for not getting to them sooner, but have been swamped with other issues.

    In some cases, it’s really easy to throw away ideas that don’t fit. For instance, if I am hearing of something for the first time, it doesn’t have much hold on me. But if there is a belief I’ve held for years it can be much more difficult to release. It’s like pulling a weed. If you only cut off the top, it will grow back. You need to find the root and remove that for it to truly be released.

    I bet we could all find roots if we took the time to be silent and explore through meditation and other exercises, I just haven’t found that time yet. However, it’s a great reminder to have people stop by and comment on it. At least it becomes conscious again. So thank you for the reminder!

    Take care, and best of luck to you in your journeys!

  5. SurfaceEarth Says:

    there you go, that’s it! the universal truth.

    Stay silent, find the root, and pull it for all you are worth.

    Best to you and yours.

  6. Janice Says:

    I enjoyed reading abit about you and your journey – I’m not sure I’m really clear on where you are spiritually (I’m not familiar with the books you mentioned), but thats okay, I don’t feel a need to ‘box’ you….just wanted to say I stopped by (found you from comments on wilsford’s blog on blogspot). Take care! Janice

  7. butchjax Says:

    To be honest Janice, I don’t know how to label it myself. I guess that’s one advantage of practicing a religion – there are words for it that everyone understands. I don’t really know how to describe where I’m at in a nutshell. Though I suppose everyone watching and reading the Secret gives some common language for discussion. Maybe I should watch it? lol

    Nice to meet you. Have a great day!

  8. And Says:

    Greetings. I, too, am new to blogging. I ask for Patience and Compassion as sometimes I am slow to catch on.

    I have a fruit to share, something gleaned from my own journey. Maybe it would be of assisstance. Maybe not. Ask your Heart. Always listen to your own Heart.

    I titled it ‘Self’.

    Sun – Self

    I Am

    The Son also Rises.

    ‘What a mess’, I thought, as I looked at my chart. Conflict and opposition all over the place. I could understand why I felt at war with myself. Heart in conflict with head. Actions in conflict with desires. What was I? A crash test dummy of inner conflict?

    I saw the Light alright.

    The ‘me’ I displayed on the outside, the ‘me’ the World knew, really didn’t accurately express the genuine ‘me’, that was on the inside. Intimacy was a big issue. I wouldn’t let people get close enough to really get a good look into me.

    I was a con artist. I would compromise myself all the time. Saying things to be nice or polite, that I really didn’t mean. Answering questions based on what I knew the other person wanted to hear. Answering questions based on what answer would get me liked or get me whatever it was I was seeking to get out of the person: sympathy, support, agreement, funding, etc. My list could go on and on.

    I guess my problem was that I really didn’t know who I was. I also didn’t know why I did what I did or, felt what I felt, most of the time. I didn’t know my Self. All I really knew was an artificial construct I had made, in response to what other people did or did not like. You like this, so I’ll be this. You like that and I’ll be that. I’d change as the ‘you’ I was trying to please, changed. I was a database of stored responses, like a puppet with strings anyone could pull.

    There was a part of me, unknown ‘til then, that bristled over the idea of being a puppet or, a pet, like a dog that would do anything for a pat on the head and a biscuit. How could I hold myself so lowly in esteem?

    It was then I became aware of the kind of relationship I had with myself. It wasn’t a Loving one. I wasn’t the Real me because I didn’t believe anyone would really like the real me. The one that wasn’t ‘Perfect’.

    There was a legion of things about myself I didn’t like. Characteristics I condemned and rejected in the confines of my own heart. Tendencies I’d like to stamp out of existence. Pleasures I enjoyed even though I wasn’t suppose to.

    I wasn’t very nice in what I believed. I wasn’t kind, either. Nor respectful. Being ‘right’ was much more important then being Understanding.

    I was a dictator of conditions when it came to what I was willing to accept and tolerate. Everything had to be my idea of ‘right’ or I went emotionally ballistic. It was ‘my way or the highway.’ And this is how I acted towards myself in the confines of my own head.

    My inner world ran on fuels of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of punishment and, fear of pain. I found no Courage. I found no Valor. I found no Honor. I found no Integrity. I found nothing that would have meant I had Heart or Self Respect.

    I had as much backbone as a jellyfish, when it came to having Faith in myself.

    For a while I wallowed in my own self pity. A victim, blaming any and every authority figure in my life for teaching me this example of how to relate to my Self. I remembered thinking as a child that I needed to learn all the big people’s rules, in order to survive in the big people’s world. What I learned was ‘Stuff everything people don’t like away in some deep dark hole inside, then pray to God it never gets out.’

    Fa-la-la, I am the Light and all that. I knew I had a dark side. No matter how ‘good’ I acted. I knew I wasn’t Miss Smiles & Sunshine. Sooner or later, all those pent up, repressed, and suppressed parts of myself would start acting up, sabotaging my Life. Locking these parts up didn’t make them go away. Locking them up just made it so part of me was living in the dark most of the time. And it was the conscious part.

    My subconscious lurked within me. Like my Nemesis. I couldn’t divorce myself from it. Decades of trying had proved the futility of that idea. There was no way around it. I was going to have to attempt making friends with myself. My first step was to find out why so many parts of myself were against me. It didn’t take long to learn the reason.

    I had sentenced parts of myself that didn’t live up to my ideal of perfection, to live in darkness. Shut off from my acknowledgement or recognition. Shut off from any Understanding or Compassion. I made a box inside myself and stuffed all my rejected parts in it. I created my own personal hell and, sentenced all the parts of myself I didn’t like, to live there.

    The problem was…,

    That it was ‘me’ living in that hell of my own making. And no matter how rotten I imagined I might be, I didn’t like the feel of living in hell. It was miserable.

    And boy did I feel stupid, knowing I was the one that had sentenced myself there.

    I did it because I had never been taught or shown, how to Love ‘me’. I was taught that Self is supposed to be sacrificed for the ‘good of others‘.

    As a result, I didn’t know how to Embrace ‘me’. I didn’t know how to Accept ‘me’. I didn’t know how to Tolerate ‘me’. Much less know how to Enjoy my own company.

    And I knew it.

    I knew how to be self condemning. I knew how to be self rejecting. I could come up with a list a mile long, at a moment’s notice, of reasons I was unworthy and should therefore, be sacrificed for ‘the good of others’.

    For all my intellect, for all my education, I didn’t know how to be self nurturing.

    I was an empty vessel. Empty of feeling any of the feelings that would have been supportive and fulfilling. Looking always to the World outside of me, to provide me with what I felt I lacked. And I was seeing this, not as a Mystic, not as a Religious devotee but, as an Engineer. Talk about a revelation.

    Most of us have been taught completely erroneous ideas about the field of magnetism. We’ve heard phrases such as ‘opposites attract’. When no, they don’t. Not quantum mechanistically.

    North magnetic fields only attract North poles. South magnetic fields only attract South poles. North magnetic fields don’t want ANYTHING to do with South poles. And South magnetic fields don’t want ANYTHING to do with North poles.

    Penguins and polar bears don’t coexist.

    When I magnetized myself as ‘south’ or a ‘negative’ field of interest, the only people I ever attracted, were those that fit into my idea of life. They had to be ‘south’ or ‘negative’ towards me, too. Whatever it was, if I thought negatively about it myself, I’d find they’d express that same negativity, too, polarized opposite me.

    I’d always believed I felt the way I did because it was what everyone else told me. When according to quantum physics, everyone else had simply been mirroring, whatever I had been imagining. ‘Negative’ was all I was capable of attracting, so long as I was polarizing myself as ‘negative’, in my own attitudes.

    I realized I had been the one to set the currents in motion, that had brought all the negative stuff that had washed up on my shores. I was the one that had judged myself. Everyone else in my life had been an echo. Cause. And effect. I sowed. And I reaped.

    It didn’t take me long to catch on, that when it came to what I believed, I was FREE to be my own authority. Above and beyond all others. I didn’t have to wait for others to tell me what to believe, like I was some sort of answering machine being programmed in responses. I had the power to decide that on my own.

    I will believe, whatever I WILL to believe.

    Because I AM. And that means I CAN.

    Ever since then I’ve claimed Sovereignty over my own Realms of ideas. And discovered when my ideas are connected to my Heart, instead of coming from my gut, I possess all the Self Assurance I need.

    I have chosen my own beliefs, since. Especially about myself, Life and what many of us call God.

    I’ve chosen to believe in the Passion of my Life.

    Here’s an exercise in reclaiming and getting to know yours.

    Choose any subject: money, love, God, sex, marriage, work, etc. Then fill in the sentence, ‘Money is ______’ 20 times. Or ‘Love is ______’ 20 times. Whatever subject you choose, complete the sentence 20 times.

    The first few will be easy. By 7-8, things will be slowing down. And by 11-12, it will take some time coming up with new answers. But be patient. Mostly likely it’s been a while since you’ve taken an inventory of what’s in your subconscious, if ever. When you finish, look over your answers.

    For each answer, ask yourself if you really believe it. It doesn’t matter where you heard it or read it. All that does matter is if you choose to believe it and accept it as True in your life.

    (I’ll share a tip with you. When it comes to believing, ask the Self in your own heart. “To Thine Own Heart Be True.“ )

    How does believing ‘this’ or ‘that’ make you feel? Cross off any and all beliefs that make you feel awful or negative about yourself or Life itself. Simply refuse to believe it. You can, you know.

    After you’ve cleared out the list of things you don’t really believe, start adding up what’s left. Integrating them together into a Whole outlook.

    Contradictions will be difficult to integrate. Water can both freeze and boil. Just not the same water, at the same time, in the same location.

    See how scattered your beliefs are about any subject. And apply a basic principal of physics. Buckshot doesn’t have the same impact on a target, as a focused projectile.

    There will be no right or wrong answers. This is simply an exercise is getting to know yourself and what is lurking around below the level of your awareness most of the time. Here is the software programming that’s been running or ruining, as the case may be, your life.

    For an adventure, take back the Sovereignty over your own Heart and Mind.

    Stand up for your Self.

    And your Freedom to simply Be.

  9. RA Says:

    Hi hi!
    I was able to find this post by googling “Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Transgendered”. Your story is interesting. Like you, I was born and raised in the WELS, though I have never left it and believe it to continue the pure Word of God.

    I’m transgendered, through partial transition, and have had difficulty adjusting to having other people know it. Although it has called for a drastic change in how I serve in the church, I DO still serve. Some of the key people and some of my friends in the congregation know about me, others do not. It is difficult.

    I wanted to mention that I’ve been given the full support of my pastor over the years, and he has been a true blessing. He was caught off-guard when I told him about my birth defect (which is how I’ve always seen it), but was quick to tell me I’m NOT sinning, I’m NOT imagining it, and I DO have a unique position. He’s always supported me and has never seen my condition as “evil”. Difficult certainly. But not evil.

    Anyway, I just wanted to offer these words of encouragement to you that the WELS struggles sometimes with “out of the ordinary” situations, but they ARE always willing to address anything through the eyes of God’s love and the love of our Savior Jesus Christ.

    Take care and God bless!
    (If you wish to reply, send to my email. I’m not sure I’ll find this site again.)

  10. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    Greetings Again. I’ve moved and come out of hiding.

    I had great difficulties reconciling some of my beliefs. I, too, was taught of ‘sin’. But when I looked deeply within myself, what I had really been taught had been Guilt.

    We all make mistakes. We all ‘miss the mark’ at some time or another. Ignorance is no crime. We don’t know what we don’t know. We’ve all been there. It is through Understanding that we correct our mistakes, if indeed they are mistakes.

    I found that the judgment of ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’ or any other negative labeling, expressed my UNwillingness to attempt Understanding. The walls of my narrow mind would stay in place according to my will. There’s no way I could understand anything I’d seperated myself from.

    One day I realized I couldn’t very well both believe in Guilt and believe in Christ at the same time. As Christ, that is an Absolute, if we genuinely believe. As an Absolute, it encompasses all time and space. Infinity. Eternity.

    ‘Forgive them they know what they do’, extended into any and every possible Future, as well as, any and every possible past.

    I learned to beware of Righteousness based on Wrongness. For at its foundation is a lack of Understanding and Compassion for Humanity.

    A ‘limited unlimited’ or an ‘impotent omnipotence’ are not a beliefs of Christ.

    Which feels more loving?

    Guilt or Forgiveness? Thorns or lillies?

    And for how long has Guilt been used to hide our shortcomings of character? While our virtue was defined by how much of ourselves we denied, for ‘the good of others’?

    I didn’t like being a sacrificial animal on the altar of other peoples’ judgments and desires.

    So I ‘just said no’.

  11. Bill Says:

    This is my first visit to you site and I am so very impressed. I thank you for being open, honest and for sharing your journey. Your spiritual beliefs are so right on, with my thinking. I enjoyed it all but especially the line about not being able to believe in Christ and guilt at the same time, I had never thought of it in that way. It does make so much sense.
    Thank you again
    Bill

  12. jonfeatherstone Says:

    Hi,
    You are further down this path than me! lol. I have just discovered the “Conversations with God” Trilogy a few weeks ago and I just can’t but them down! So much better than the restrictive and narrow thinking of christianity that I grew up with!
    Jon

  13. Stryse Says:

    Hmmm. Seems we have some stuff in common. I too came out of a Lutheran home and had some coming-out angst related to that upbringing. It’s interesting too.. seems we have similarities in our reaching out to ‘alternative philosophies,’ not finding things like Wicca agreeing with us… and then went Jedi.

    It’s kind of neat. 🙂

  14. butchjax Says:

    In the end, spirituality is about a search for Truth instead of truth. This is why no religion or one spiritual path doesn’t fir for me. I see the faults too quickly and that distracts me from the benefits so I simply have to blaze my own trail (which is not simple.) I think it is common among many people on the Jedi path however, though I wish it were more common. I worry about people in general clinging to religion because it places a limitation on spiritual exploration. It doesn’t have to, but most of the time it does. Then again, these are limits we place on ourselves, so…I don’t know. It’s a very tricky area for me. Religion has simply done too much harm to just trust that it’s helping people. I worry that it’s simply a bandaid covering a festering wound. It looks better for a while but all the while the initial issue is still there and getting worse. Not very positive today I’m afraid…

  15. Equipping The Saints Says:

    Thanks for sharing the intimate details of your life. Please let me say something that might resonate with you, and with others. Terms such as spirituality and religion/religious are far from a person have an intimate, personal, and saving relationship with Jesus. Please check out some of my posts.I trust that you will have a wonderful dayl


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