I opened the book, Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior, right to the exact page that I needed to read today. Dan Millman said, “Walking a different path, no longer fitting in, can be a test of character. It may entail finding new friends who share our values. We have to deal with the fear that our changes in behavior or lifestyle may distance us from our spouses, partners, or friends. When moving into new and unfamiliar territory, explorers typically face the fear of separation, being cut off from the group. At times like these, we need to remember that we’re not all here to fit in; some of us are here to lead. If we’re belittled by others who may feel threatened by a change we’re making, we can ask ourselves, ‘Am I going to worship the god of opinion or listen to the god of my heart? Will I let others intimidate me into being more like them? Is fitting in such a high virtue? Or will I lead by example and give them the space to make their own choices as well?’”
He also goes on to say, “It’s better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to timidly avoid mistakes with a trembling spirit. Responsibility means recognizing both pleasure and price, action and consequence, then making a choice.”
Long before Katie came along, I made the conscious decision to walk away from regular church attendance. I struggled with all that was going on there. It’s not that the church I was attending was a bad church. As a matter of fact, it was the best church I have been a part of. So the thought of looking for a new church to fit my new thoughts and ideas wouldn’t work. I knew that God was calling me to be a “fresh new voice” and I knew I couldn’t be that voice and stay where I was. So in a lot of ways, my decision to leave church was a lot like what Millman was saying about explorers. I have definitely felt the fear of separation—especially this past year since Katie moved in with me.
Walking away from church is really quite a small little “Christian cultural” offense. But moving in together before marriage is a huge offense in most Christian’s eyes. Most consider it to be deliberately living in sin—fornication, or whatever other biblical tag they want to pin on. I'm slowly coming to the realization that in order to be the fresh new voice that's been promised, I must first explore and discover all that the universe has for me. I'm done "timidly avoiding mistakes with a trembling spirit"!! From now on I will choose to "make mistakes with the full force of my being"!!! If those around me cannot choose to see the amazing life we have and the love that we share for each other then that is their choice. I have never been one who could live my life according to everyone else's rules they had for me. Typically, if someone put a rule in front of me, I broke it--a line, I crossed it. That's just how I have always been. I don't think I should change now!!
Going through the A New Earth study that Oprah did last year was a big help for me internally. They covered many of the things I have been wrestling with for many years now so I received some fruitful advice. However, since then I have realized that the support system I have placed around my life are all people (very good, well-meaning people) who live their lives according to the religion I have been walking away from. Knowing I have been letting these people down and causing them to question my judgement and character has been the hardest part of all.
Looking back on 2008, I can see I spent the whole year with one foot still in my past religion trying to please parents, family, and friends while the other foot was going down the path of exploring, discovering, learning, questioning, and wondering. Therein lies the problem. I cannot travel down two paths at the same time. So . . . I've remained stuck. Not going anywhere. Not walking further down the path of the religion I'm letting go and not walking down the path of the life of mystery and discovery I'm eager to embrace. NO MORE!!!!!!!!!
This year (with the help of this 100 Day Challenge), I will eagerly walk down the path of mystery!!!! I'm looking forward to sharing the journey with you!!!
"Wisdom Begins in Wonder" ---Socrates