The calm came as I turned on KBYU, simply trying to find something to watch to take my mind off the thought of my meeting with my bishop. As PBS is doing their pledge drive, they are showing a number of programs that one can receive as "gifts" for donating. Tonight was a program by Wayne Dyer called "Excuses Begone." A number of points hit home with me. The main one was his discussion of the recovery therapy saying "Let go and let God." As I watched the program I found myself calming down as I considered the ideas Dyer talked about.
Much of my anxiety and depression of the past couple years have been around issues of trust. My new individual counselor put it very well in our last session when he said he could put the trauma of my life into the word "rejection." I have experienced a great amount of cathartic crying as I've thought about the rejection I have felt and still feel in my life. I have taken it and no longer feel the ability to trust most other people. I don't even trust myself as I struggle with the issues of my body often failing to function properly. Dyer talked about "Let go and let God" is about putting trust not in others or even one's self, it is about putting trust in that higher power: one's Source, God, or whatever label one chooses to use. As I have pondered this, the issue I realize that the spiritual issue that has crippled me over the past couple years has not been simply the issues of my medical problems, but the loss of surrender to God.
Back in 2007 I had my final blow out with my last bishop, stopped attending church meetings, and even asked my home teachers to stop visiting as I felt one in particular was being far too pushy and preachy with me. Although I still feel the step to remove myself from church attendance was in many ways necessary to keeping things from becoming even worse, I realize I let myself lose something very important. I lost my sense of surrender to God and began to try to control too much by my own power. The great moments of my life, where I have found enlightenment, self-actualization, and peace have been those times when I really let go, surrendering myself to God's will, guidance, and influence.
Unlike many I know who consider religion to be a harmful institution, I believe it is very necessary and a powerful tool in spirituality. One of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life to date came in the fall of 2007 as I read Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. It was an experience of understanding the powerful good and spiritual strength that came from me attending church services, even though I still had many criticisms and took issue with the institutions positions and actions regarding sexuality. These are some of the passages that struck me then and even now:
Another aspect of modern life is a loss of formal religious practice in many people's lives, which is not only a threat to spirituality as such, but also deprives the soul of valuable symbolic and reflective experience. (211)
... [C]hurch teaches us directly and symbolically to see the sacred dimensions of everyday life. ... [R]eligion is an "art of memory," a way of sustaining mindfulness about the religion that is inherent in everything we do. ... Without this lowly incorporation of the sacred into life, religion can become so far removed from the human situation as to be irrelevant. ... An appreciation for vernacular spirituality is important because without it our idealization of the holy, making it precious and too removed from life, can actually obstruct a genuine sensitivity to what is sacred. Churchgoing can become a mere aesthetic experience or, psychologically, even a defense against the power of the holy. Formal religion, so powerful and influential in the establishment of values and principles, always lies on a cusp between the divine and the demonic. (214-216)
When I was actively going to church and Institute, I walked the line of that cusp: the precarious balancing act that is walking the straight and narrow of God's will. I do not know if I will return to church activity. In many ways I still feel it will be a hostile environment. The fall out of Proposition 8 is still very active and I suspect many will be all too willing to pull out the rhetoric of the past couple years to try to put me in what they think is my place. At the same time, as I've contemplated what it is God wants of me, I realize my calling in life, in some way, is to be a gad fly to the institution. It is not a calling of trying to tear down, ridicule, or otherwise be a causer of discord. At this moment I feel a peaceful indignation towards the willful ignorance, supposition, and adherence to those I consider to be charlatans and yes men for guidance and "understanding" of issues. I do not know what form my attempts to educate and inform those in power will take. For now, I must simply let go of my attempts to control events and return to letting God carry me to whatever destination His plan has for me.