Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free From the Limitations of "Religion"

How do you get rid of fear? I've been searching for the answers all my life through therapy, through prayer, through spiritual gurus -- you name it. Anita Moorjani, the author of Dying to be Me had some great advice in her book and to myself personally, however she experienced an NDE (near-death experience). I guess you can say she has proof, while many of us sit here wondering about all the "what ifs" in our life. I can only speak for myself when I say that my fear stems from the fear of death and the fear of the unknown in the afterlife, because let's face it -- without proof of our faith, it's just that: a belief system. Being a bit of a hypochondriac, my fear of eating peanuts, shrimp or getting stung by a bee are all seen as "irrational fears" -- but is it? So, "Deb fears bees," which basically equates to, "Deb fears anaphylactic shock," which equates to, "Deb has a fear of dying." It has gotten better to where it doesn't control my life, but I still duck whenever I see a yellow jacket buzzing around. I'm also a huge germaphobe, so my friends and family have a ball with that one, especially if I'm in a hospital. Fear does funny things to people and their behaviors, and sometimes, it's the cause for things that seem so opposite from the outside. Like for instance, let's say you invite a good friend out for a bite to eat somewhere, and he or she always declines, leaving you feeling rejected. Maybe they decline invitations to your parties and events and perhaps, they hardly ever see you anymore. Agoraphobia is more common than thought. It could be just a fear of supermarkets or malls. Sometimes, it can be a fear of being in a place surrounded by people. When I developed my agoraphobia years ago, I was miserable. If I was forced to be somewhere like a supermarket, I would get tunnel vision and hear every single voice talking at once, but it was like someone turned up the volume really loud. It made me feel "crazy'. I'd have to leave right that instant. And not to mention those florescent lights made it that much worse.

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

A lot of religious people have fear. "The fear of the unknown" -- "the fear of the imagined" due to ignorance (not knowing) and not being exposed to what can seem uncomfortable. The fear of the afterlife is another huge reason religious people seem uptight and rigid. Once anyone tries to shake their core beliefs, they most likely will lash out -- in terror mostly. Maybe it's the fear of being wrong -- and who wants to be wrong after believing in something that you've held onto for so long? It's almost like being lied to. Religion breeds fear. Fear is not of God. I had someone bring up an important topic that many people of faith ask. I can only speak from my faith and experience only. I copied and pasted the question from my email.

"If the bible is true we are forgiven for tomorrow's sins as well. So the question, if I have the freedom to sin is.. Do I really want to? Is it actually going to benefit me in the long run the way I am tempted to think it will? Like premarital sex. God will still love me if I do it, but is it what's best for the relationship? Will my actions serve me (and the object of my offection) in the long run. God's Kingdom is love. That's all. Therefore there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I want to follow Christ because of that love, not to avoid some future punishment."

My response:

"It was made clear that Jesus’ death was meant for the sin of man. And the Old Law which the Jews rely on no longer apply to us. (That is also in Galatians.) In the Bible it does state that God knew that we could not handle the “sin of man” (carnal/physical/non-intentionally evil sins) to which He gave us His only Son to die for us so that we would have everlasting life.

True love before marriage -- is it wrong?
Premarital sex. Think for a moment… I’m not sure if you are married or not, but if you are in love with that person, have sincere and genuine feelings for this beautiful woman you’re in a relationship with — doesn’t that feel “right”? I find it very difficult to believe that premarital sex is wrong. Promiscuous and reckless sex is not only sinful, but it is unclean in many ways. I’m just giving you my core beliefs here. Also, things like premarital sex, a marriage that didn’t work out, or even homosexuality — dig deep into that noggin of yours and think about how people wanted a “nice moral society”. Where could they have put those “rules” and have people “brainwashed” into believing them? I honestly and sincerely believe that society did that to control the masses — to have an upstanding society with no gays, no lesbians, no divorcees, etc. But not in the aspects of “SEX” — in the aspects of gay and lesbian relationships. {RELATIONSHIPS} — not talking sex here. So many Christians associate homosexuals to only sex — and I really hate that word because that word initially meant “unclean”. That derived through unclean sex with men (anal) — to which many straights do anyway. (Not my bag) — and believe it or not, it’s not many gay men’s “bag” either. That’s just another, umm, avenue. Eek. But it’s so strange how they tied in all gays and lesbians (especially lesbians) to anal sex. Sorry I’m being explicit here, but I’m just explaining where that word came from.

Will your actions serve you? Well here’s what I know. (I should say believe, but I know.) — None of us are perfect. God LOVES us — imperfections and all. NO action, no “good deeds” will get you into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

Unreal when you actually read that passage again and think about all the Christians telling you to be “a good boy”. The biggest commandment of all is to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and to love one another just the same. God is in all of us — which is why we should be compassionate toward everyone, even those who are unkind to us. And sometimes we mess up — and that’s OKAY! We will always mess up. You know, it’s very scary to believe that there is a hell waiting for you when you know that without a doubt, you’re a good guy, right? I mean, you never hurt anyone, you don’t abuse people nor kill anyone. You don’t intentionally try to be a “bad person” — and that’s not even inside you. You’re worried about the “sin of man” which Jesus already died for! I have faith in Jesus’ death — if I didn’t, I would try to “obey the law” — and the Bible clearly states not to. Why are there so many contradictions in that Bible? Why do you think in one section of the NEW Testament, it says your actions will never get you into heaven, only by FAITH you will be saved? And in another section, if you “do this” and “do that” — you’re going to hell buddy.  I mean, does that make any sense at all? Maybe it does to you, but for me, I dug deeper because I DID question my own sexual orientation. Remember you asked me that? 'Why don’t you question more about your lifestyle?' Oh believe you me — I questioned that one till the cows came home. I studied that Bible, prayed and meditated every. single. day. till I just couldn’t take it, until I had that major spiritual experience. God loves you more than anyone on this earth can possibly love you. Don’t you think that if the typical human being can accept YOU “AS IS” — with all the imperfections — don’t you think your Father will too? Our earthly fathers accept us “as is” (well some I guess) and we doubt that GOD the Almighty is not capable of doing this. Faith."

I made a horrible mistake. I made the assumption that this particular reader of mine was a homophobe, when actually I would consider it more related to thanatophobia. (A fear of death.) Many people's fear of death is tied into their religious beliefs, particularly if they happen to be going through a period of questioning. Some people think that they know what will happen after death, but worry that they may be wrong. Some believe that the path to salvation is very straight and narrow, and fear that any deviations or mistakes may cause them to be eternally condemned. Religious beliefs are highly personalized, and even a therapist of the same general faith may not fully understand a client's beliefs. If the fear of death is religiously based, it is often helpful to seek supplemental counseling from one's own religious leader. However, this should never be used to replace traditional mental health counseling. Fear of the Unknown Thanatophobia may also have roots in fears of the unknown. It is part of the human condition to want to know and understand the world around us. What happens after death, however, cannot be unequivocally proven while we are still alive. People who are highly intelligent and inquisitive are often at greater risk for this type of thanatophobia, as are those who are questioning their own philosophical or religious beliefs. --read more here.

Homophobia: unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.

Realistically, we should define "homophobia" as an irrational fear of homosexuals. But the definition took another turn to "antipathy" or to put it bluntly, antigay or prejudice. Hatred is another term used to define this word. PHOBIA is fear. Now my question would be: why would someone fear a homosexual if they feel comfortable with themselves? I've always had this theory that if someone had pure hatred toward someone who is gay or lesbian, that this person may have homosexual tendencies themselves. They did an experiment years ago on homophobic people where they monitored their reaction to graphic gay images. The result was the same if they had seen graphic images of the opposite sex. I encourage you to watch the experiment below. And if you cannot see the video below, please click here.



So then, after having seen the video above, watching "homophobic" people 'rise up to the occasion' while viewing pornographic images of homosexuals, then is it a choice to be gay or straight or do you feel it is more genetic?  And on that note, I still hold mixed views on whether or not being gay is a choice or if it is genetic. For myself, I knew I was gay since I was in diapers. I preferred females. I didn't know exactly why -- but I did. I had crushes on my female friends in school, to which was very difficult for me. I dated boys so I could hide who I truly was. Being a "lesbian" was seen as "disgusting" and nobody hung around those types of people. It was very different back then. But my point is: I had no environmental influences nor knew of any other gay or lesbian person while growing up -- so how would my environment encourage my lifestyle? This is why I sometimes feel it has to be genetic. I could have chosen to spend my life with a man, but I didn't think that was fair for him since I wasn't in love with him. I couldn't manage to be "in love" -- and find that true chemistry as I did when I dated females. I ask the question of, "Did you choose to be straight" to many heterosexuals who rattle of "it's a choice" -- but maybe we all chose -- but for good reason. For instance, I chose to be with a woman because I was in love with her. My love chose her. My heart chose her. I tried to "learn to love him" as Mom suggested, but I did learn to love him as a person, not like the man he deserved.

Had to use this one!
Back to fear. I keep hearing this quote and I don't know who wrote it, but it says, "Everything you ever wanted is on the other side of fear." We're afraid to love -- and I mean LOVE in all aspects. We're afraid to get hurt...again. We experience pain, we remember it, and we try to avoid it. Fear induces avoidance. So would fear of homosexuals induce avoidance of befriending someone who is gay or lesbian? I had one friend who thought that their friends would think he was gay if he hung around with me. This is a guy we're talking about now. I could see if I was another man -- but he was afraid that since I was a lesbian, that people would think he was gay. I couldn't wrap my head around that one.

I think it's safe to say that our entire lives are revolving around the biggest negative source: fear. We fear we'll lose our jobs, our homes, our spouses, our children, our dignity, ourselves. We're afraid of so much, which is why we probably end up with the big "C" -- to which Anita Moorjani brings up in her book. She claims she got cancer from fearing life. When you bring in negative emotions such as fear -- it eats away at your cells.

In an interview with Lilou Mace, Moorjani shares some of the amazing life lessons she took away from her NDE. For easier assimilation, we’ve listed them below. Things Anita Moorjani learned from her Stage Four Cancer & Ensuing NDE:
  1. You attract what you fear.
  2. If you’re sick, don’t fight it. Embrace it. Love where you are now. Only when you approach your health challenges from a point of love can you overcome the fear.
  3. Sometimes less information is better. When it comes to illness, more information does not necessarily equal more power (too much research can actually add to the fear and symptoms).
  4. Through your illness, your body is giving you a message. Work to understand and be with what is. 
  5. Everything comes from within.
  6. Ask yourself, “What brings me joy?” And do more of that.
  7. Don’t obsess and make your life about the illness.
  8. Love yourself unconditionally.
  9. Positive thinking can only help to a certain extent. It’s more about being yourself and loving yourself – regardless of what you are going through.
  10. Stop judging yourself.
  11. Express yourself fully. Ask yourself: “Am I allowing myself to express who I am? Am I being this person because I want to be accepted, or because it is who I am?”
  12. Be centered in your true essence. From the place of pure centeredness, miracles are possible. It’s about being, not doing. When you are in the space of being, miracles are possible.
  13. The only thing that limits you is your own beliefs.
  14. The best way to get our of a fear state is to do something that brings you into a state of joy. Find something that changes your state completely. Whatever it is – music or art or going out in nature. Do something completely different. Or meditate. If we can be still, we can go into a different reality.
  15. Stay totally open. Get into a defused state in which all of the possibilities lie before you and you haven’t locked into any one.
  16. Follow your bliss and do what you love. We tend to do what we think we should do, rather than what our heart tells us to do. We don’t do what makes our heart sing.
  17. You are your own guru. All your answers are inside you.
  18. Nobody is better than (or less than) you. We are all equal.
  19. Focus on your feelings more than your thoughts. Make your everyday choices based on what makes you FEEL good, rather than what you THINK you should do or what others think you should do.
  20. Don’t let a fear of failing or displeasing others run your life.
  21. Realize your own MAGNIFICENCE!

I had issues with 1, 7, 20 and 21. I attracted what I feared. The more I feared it, the more it came on. Like that saying, whatever you resist, persists. When I had a problem with hypochondria, every single ache or pain meant something fatal, which meant trips up to the ER. It really took a toll on my life and on my spouse's. With meditation and practicing self-awareness, I have come to a point in my life where I just acknowledge the pain or ailment, I don't judge it and once I do that -- it dissipates. The mind is very powerful, to the point of actually giving you psychosomatic symptoms. My issue with #20 was huge. {Don't let a fear of failing or displeasing others run your life.}I truly cared about what everyone else thought about me: about how I lived my life and what I did for work -- everything was centered around making sure others knew I was doing "okay" and doing my part. It drove me into a pit of depression. I even had irrational thoughts due to my fear that everyone thought "this way" when it was the complete opposite. But it wasn't about other people, it was about me and my insecurities. I was miserable trying to please everybody else, in fear that I would be seen as "bad" or "self-centered". But if I am unable to help myself, I cannot help anybody else. My love tank would be on "E" -- and it was many times. My life is my own and I am so happy where I am, who I am, and who I share my life with. Sometimes I get setbacks, and other times, I just meditate on my gratefulness of just 'being'. Issue #21 {Realizing my own magnificence} was a very tough one for me. I didn't think very highly of myself, although my outward behavior would tell you otherwise. People who seem overly confident are the ones who are most insecure. Every single person has a magnificent role to play in this life.

Here is the point of my entire post though. Other people's fears, their "homophobia" or their  "thanatophobia" is not my issue. It's their issue that they have to deal with on their own. Any time I try to share my beliefs about Christianity, the Bible and justify my lifestyle accordingly, it can sometimes shake other Christians' core beliefs to where they challenge me on my knowledge of what the Bible truly says -- or what we "think" it indicates. When somebody comes off angry, like a cat being cornered -- that's fear. It's the 'fight or flight' syndrome. Name calling is another indicator of fear. I've been called a false prophet, a heathen, evil, liar as well as being casted into hell by fellow Christians. Now think about a child when they feel cornered and full of fear. What do they do? They lash out, stomp and cry or possibly resort to name calling. When I bring up my own thoughts on the Bible that the Old Law does not apply -- they simply go back and look at their own sins and question all they've ever known and learned. But first, denial sets in, which is where the anger is set off. So if your sin is saying the Lord's name in vain, and you repent, but yet two weeks later you do it again -- will you go to hell or will you keep on repenting?

In Matthew 18:22, Peter came to Jesus and asked how many times should he forgive his neighbor. "Seven times?" And Jesus replied, "No, not seven times, but seventy times seven."

And again let me post this one up:
Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

So through forgiveness, through the fact that no good deed or action can get you into the Kingdom of Heaven -- we should have less fear and more focus on GOD. If you feel like your "sins" are going to put you straight into hell, then you need to truly pray and meditate and develop a true relationship with God. Do you think he's going to cast every single soul into hell?  And yes, while there is that "narrow gate" analogy in the Bible, I doubt that the 'sin of man' is going to doom us, because for Christians, we believe that Jesus died on the cross. And for what? I'm surprised that so many Christians lack the faith it has to believe in the one most important thing in the Biblical scriptures itself!

The next time you're faced with an extremely negative confrontation or argument, try putting yourselves into their shoes and ask, "What's the fear?" There is an underlining fear when somebody lashes out. You're either threatening their core beliefs or you have just challenged them to look at things in a whole different way. Most of it will be in complete denial, because that's what fear does. Fear is the worst type of emotion that can produce the most unpredictable of all behaviors. You've seen it with all of these cops and citizens shooting one another. The citizen fears that the police hates them, they fear going to jail, so it's a game of "It's Either You or Me". The cop fears that anyone at any given time can pull out a gun at any given second. They've seen it before and they're not going to be a victim. They start fearing the worst, so they shoot them first. And, all fears are valid, even if the scenario was assumed.

I still have a lot to work on regarding fear. I have a lot of anxiety that I need to work on. So far, it's been such a blessing with all of these great authors guiding me, teaching me different techniques and shaking up my core beliefs. At first, it scared me. My core beliefs were challenged -- I lashed out a bit, and in return, given a peaceful and loving answer that calmed me down and made me dig deeper into my own faith, my own awareness, my own "religion" and personal relationship with God. And that's something nobody can ever take from me now. The peace that this has given me exceeds all of those strong fears that used to set in and debilitate me. I no longer look at another Christian who is calling me names and telling me that I'm going to hell because I don't believe in the same things they do -- I now see them as fearful children, some looking for answers, and some just being content (and miserable) in the limitations of their own religion. For the first time in my life, I finally feel free.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!