Healing My Relationship With God
I recently adopted the practice of Centering Prayer in which one focuses on a word and as the mind wanders the practice is to catch that wandering and gently come back to the one word. For a while my word was “Love.” Then somehow the word “God” replaced “Love” as the right word for me. This surprised me in a way because “God” has been such a trigger word for me for so long, sometimes consciously and most times unconsciously. But for whatever reason I seem comfortable with this word in my Centering Prayer, at least for now. So when my mind wonders, I come back to “God.” Something has apparently shifted to allow this in me, even finding it pleasurable. Yes, “God,” …. “God,” …”God,” …
As I explored my heretofore resistance to the word God I got in touch with the fear I had, fear that this God, as a maximum authority figure in my younger life, would require me to do something or believe something that was not me, was not my true self. If God were my maximum authority, this belief that God would require something of me that was not me meant that relating to this “God” would be self-alienating. Despite being taught over and over again that God is Love, in fact I did not relate to God as love but as a demanding authority who would take me away from myself. This was my image, my belief about God. That seems to be my conundrum about God and has been at the heart of a lot of my resistance.
Where can I find peace? I notice that I have peace without anxiety when I feel secure and fulfilled being me. But somewhere I got the idea that “being me” was not OK, at least not in the presence of an authority figure. I would have to comply with what the authority wanted me to be. For example if Dad wanted me to be more social than I was, then not being more social than I was was not OK. In many areas of my life I came to equate authority with my feelings of “not being OK.” So this is another very influential belief or image. And it applied to God in particular it seems. With this image or belief, I could not find peace in God.
My life seemed to become one heavily influenced by compliance with, or avoidance of, or even rebellion against when it came to authority. And the issue seemed to be alienation from my true self in most of these situations. I could not allow myself to really be me in the presence of a person to whom I had given authority. Including, of course, God. So I would either not give authority to others, including God, and, in retaining that authority in my being, feel true to myself, or I would give authority to others, or God, and feel alienated from myself. Either way, this not giving authority to others (including God) and “knowing” this rebellion to be covering some truth, or this giving authority to others (including God) and in the process feeling self-alienated, left me in anxiety most of the time. I could not win peace either way.
The Jesus-Christ-dying-for-my-sins message did not erase my self-alienation, for it left me still not-OK at my core but somehow Jesus “paid the price, allowing God to declare me OK before God, when in fact I was not feeling OK. Somehow feeling OK “just as I am” is important to my sense of wellbeing.
“Purification” is another trigger word for me. Yuk. Now I am to be purified because I am not OK “just as I am.” But as I work my Pathwork with this, another picture comes to mind. My Divine Essence, that within me that is One with All, My Higher Self, the Universal Self, IS pure, IS Truth, IS Love, IS Wisdom. It is my ultimate me. When identified with this ultimate me, I feel secure.
And yet another part of me, my Lower Self in Pathwork lingo, is full of Pride, Self-will, and, because of its insistence on being separate from the All, is full of Fear. While this is not all of me and not the ultimate me, it is, now, in this incarnation, a very real part of me. This “contamination” needs to be purified, transformed so that the full strength of my true essence, my higher God-self, can come forth fully. This is purification rightly understood. I am feeling better about the word “purification” when spoken in this way.
And there is another dimension to purification. Because I have this deep knowing that I have a Lower Self part of me that is truly “Not OK,” I go to great lengths to cover it up. My Mask Self is born, and my Conscious Ego, also buying into this distortion that I am separate from the One, spends every waking hour trying to make my mask self comply with what it thinks is right and good. So I have the three mask forms: the Power Mask, the Love Mask, and the Serenity Mask, again using Pathwork Language. Knowing that much of my self-image is tied up with my idealization of what I ought to be, I “try,” on my own, separate from my Divine Essence, to manifest what can be manifested only by tapping into and surrendering to my Divine Essence, a surrendering that is anathema to my ego.
So this is the second, or rather the first part, of purification: removing my mask so that the second part of purification, or real transformation, can take place with my Lower Self. Purification then is the only way to come to my Essential Self, and hence purification is the purpose of my existence.
And feelings of peace, joy, and security come in this process when I begin to be “OK” with myself, knowing and feeling secure in my Higher Self, at One with the All, while at the same time accepting all of me in my current state, including my Lower Self and my Mask Self. This is self acceptance, even self valuing, while I go through purification.
So I hear a great call from God, “Gary, come forth! I welcome and accept all of you my beloved son.” Now to evermore remember this and take this in. I am beloved, and can feel beloved, just as I am, on the road of purification. On this road I feel pleasure and joy while in this purification process. Heaven is not “out there,” something I am waiting for, but rather heaven is right here, right now, as I journey along the path of life. Yes, “God,” … “God,” … “God”, …