A few years ago, I was shamed for my untraditional Christian beliefs by two traditional Christian friends. This shaming was profoundly disorienting initially, but later it became a major catalyst for my spiritual growth.
One of the things I was shamed for was my more expansive understanding of what it means to be a Christian, including seeing the Bible as a guide that evolves with us, rather than as a literal translation. I also shared my belief that God loves all His children, not just Christians, and that there is more than one way to the mountaintop.
When I shared my untraditional beliefs, I was preached at and Bible verses were quoted to denounce my point of view. I felt angry at my friends for triggering shame in me, and angry at myself for reacting and not being able to respond in a meaningful way. I felt disempowered and disconnected from my own source of truth.
I realized afterwards that the emotions being triggered were connected to the indoctrinated beliefs that I internalized as a child before I had the ability to reason. My upbringing included 12 years of Catholic education. Even though we were taught that we were created in God’s image and likeness with a soul and the Holy Spirit to guide us, these were mostly words we recited in religion class. The real message we received was that we were unworthy and separate from God. Failure to adhere to what we were taught was presented as a threat to our souls, which would cause God to separate even further from us. We were never encouraged to experience the Divine as an integral part of our being.
Being shamed reconnected me to the primal fear of separation from God, the threat to my survival, that was inculcated in me at such an early age. After being shamed, I was overwhelmed with negative emotions. The triggered fear of separation from God was also reflected in my feeling of disconnection from my friends.
Later, when I came out of my triggered trance, I realized my current beliefs didn’t just come from a more symbolic understanding of the Bible. My truth came from quiet times of illumination, prayed-for signs and synchronicities, and many ah-ha moments. However, most of all, my beliefs came from fully experiencing myself as connected to God through my soul, my Divine essence within. After I was shamed, I had to come back to this center and tune in to my own North Star.
I understand that many traditional Christians look to the Bible and their church to guide their faith and their behavior. I certainly see this as valuable, and respect this. However, I think it’s equally significant to pay attention to our own inner Divine GPS. It’s important to consider that we came into this earth alone, and we go out alone. While we’re here we have multiple influences to guide us, such as religion and spiritual texts, like the Bible, but we can’t take them with us on our last day.
Sometimes we need a reminder that, in truth, we have never been alone. We each come into this world fully equipped with our own special homing device, our Divine spark, that accompanies us on our journey here, and guides us back home again. It is our own internal Divine guidance system that we can always count on to point us in the right direction.
It took a year for me to process the shame I felt. Eventually, I wrote my friends a letter. I recognized that we were each passionate about our beliefs, and this brought forth strong emotions. I called them out respectfully for their shaming behavior, and asked them to choose respect rather than judgment. I acknowledged disappointment in myself, and how polarizing our conversation had become.
Later, I became aware that they were probably triggered by me too, when I shared beliefs that didn’t resonate with theirs. They might not have had the resources to respond to me thoughtfully either. Instead, they may have reacted because their own deeply held beliefs were perceived as being threatened. I believe this caused them to project their discomfort outward by shaming me.
They also had ingrained beliefs that were embedded when they were young and unable to question. We were each reacting to our prior conditioning in one way or another. Realizing this enabled me to feel compassion for them. My feeling of disconnection from them evaporated. I made it clear when I sent the letter that I had no intention of imposing my beliefs on them. I was grateful they responded respectfully and apologized.
In this era of polarization, challenges to our beliefs offer opportunities for healing. Sometimes, it may seem like we’re all on separate paths, but we’re all really on the same journey to Oneness with God and one another. We’re just being shown different ways for getting there.
Aligning with our Divine essence within and inner knowing shows us the way to compassion for one another and our respective journeys. We experience our interconnection through our changing roles as both teachers and students to one another, illuminating areas ready for healing. Then, separation dissolves into the illusion that it is, and its discomfort becomes the design to connect us back to ourselves, to God, and to one another.
Photo via Unsplash.
M Lorrie Miller has a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work (MSW) with over twenty years experience in a variety of settings. She is currently in the process of writing a book titled An Invitation to Co-Creation, which is about co-creating peace, unity consciousness, and soul-purposed living. She can be found on Facebook at M Lorrie Miller.