Raised as a Christian, by a devoted Christian, I naturally identified myself as a devout Christian. I believed in the word of God, attended sermon every Sunday and stayed a second service to serve the kids’ community, religiously.
Even after I grew older and gained more independence, I still attended church weekly for years. I followed the traditional beliefs of Heaven and Hell along with what I could and couldn’t do in order to get to either place.
Despite my devotion and perfect attendance, I had doubts. I had doubts within the church community; I doubted people in leadership, who may not have been so honest after all; I doubted “Christian” missionaries on television that cursed and condemned others for their lifestyles. I found controversy in some concepts and within the scriptures; I struggled to wrap my mind and heart around some things the most “loving Father” apparently hated and condemned. My questioning was mostly surface level though, and I would often take the first conclusion proposed by my mother, (a wonderfully generous and warm-hearted beam of pure light), and let the thoughts slide away or decide they were no longer valid.
This passive acceptance of agreements without further research is what I’ve come to learn as ‘blind belief’, the way in which I acquired almost everything I thought I knew. Albert Einstein said:
“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
When I went away to college in Philadelphia I was exposed to a brand-new, exciting environment and an array of fresh perspectives that I was semi-open to. Prior to taking a religion course in my first semester, I had never read texts from other religions. This was definitely a new perspective for me.
As I read and studied parts of the Torah, Quran and compared them to the Bible, I was very astounded and intrigued to see so many similarities. Being away at school had led me away from my Sunday service rituals. I felt guilty about not keeping up with the online sermons… but not that guilty. I didn’t feel any further from God, I just felt guilty for not attending church like I used to and thought I might not be able to call myself a Christian if I kept it up. Along with the lack of attendance at church, I knew that some of my college adventures, if not most, would have been unapproved by the God I learned to know and love. This had me feeling a bit conflicted but not for long as I moved back home and transferred to community college after only one semester of being away.
2016 is when I mark the beginning of my awakening. Like most, mine began by simply becoming more aware or conscious; first, of myself, then, of the illusory world around me.
My awareness was sparked by a close friend. We have always had differing and sometimes changing views on topics such as religion, the afterlife and, consciousness. Mine views weren’t really changing, hers, however, did and often, and she looked to me regularly for explanations and input.
This particular year, my answers were not enough. None of my responses to her esoteric based questions soothed her ever-searching mind. She kept pressing for more, continuously probing with controversial questions. One day, during one of these intense conversations she asked me why death happens to good people and if the bible had an explanation. Typically, whenever our dialogue touched on the topic of fate, our souls and whose hands they’re in and why, I would get defensive, however, this time she was talking about her grandad and tears welled up in her eyes.
For once, I didn’t have a theory, verse, or cliché rebuttal to comfort her with. I knew the ones I used on her before wouldn’t work this time- especially if I wasn’t convinced myself.
Instead of getting offended I told her the honest truth; I don’t know. That made her even more upset. If she didn’t know, and a Christian didn’t know, then who on earth is going to give her an answer that sits well? She needed answers desperately and I realized I did too.
I started searching for answers within. First I asked:
‘Why do I get defensive when I feel my religious beliefs are being challenged?’
I know that what is true will always be true and Christianity itself didn’t need me to defend it if it was the truth.
‘So what is causing this almost subconscious response?’
I quickly became aware that my defenses came out of a place of pure fear. If what I thought I knew about my religion was actually a lie then that meant my whole world would be turned upside down… or worse, it would be over… a complete start over. You can imagine my mind was spinning and my thoughts coursed like a tidal wave that transformed into a real fluid which was headed straight for my tear ducts. I was scared.
I was scared because the most prevalent thing I identified my [self] with was no longer accurate in my mind. I lost my sense of self. There were too many questions I could no longer ignore or wish away. I felt stripped of my identity- at first, this was very tough to swallow. It was something that engulfed my entire day, every day.
With time, the more and more I read, researched and opened my mind to different perspectives on life, love, and the meaning of it all, it got easier and eventually I had a completely new outlook on life. Before I used to feel ashamed to say “I don’t know.” Now, the more I learn, I realize, the less I know. And it is blissful.
The summer of 2016 was mind-opening, soul-feeding, nature-loving, and filled with solitude and enlightenment. The book that helped guide my day to day life after I lost my sense of self is “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book is a life changer! I will say no more. It is less than 200 pages and such an easy read.
Once I got my head back on and was able to get a handle on my thoughts and emotions again, I started following my feelings and things that interest me without self-judgment or question. I filled my work days with TEDx talks and Youtube videos that ranged from messages to the Pope, to emotional healing to the breakdown of the pineal gland (aka Third Eye), how to conduct shadow work and everything in between. I began to find massive comfort in solitude, something I did not like for long periods of time before and submerged myself in esoteric studies.
I am curious about myself. I am dedicated to raising the collective consciousness by raising my own and focused on unlearning everything I have been taught so far. To this day I still meditate on the question “Who Am I?” It is a deep question. I have yet to find a fulfilling answer but I now know a great deal about who I’m not.
My journey is very young, but it is my most prized possession; it is me, it is my life. Today I believe that at the very core of what we are is energy, energy to manifest our dreams into reality. I look at everything through different eyes than I did two years ago. I am far more open now, not just in my mind but in my heart. I can understand far more than I allowed myself to, including other people and their stories. And now when I don’t understand, I don’t take it personally. Not every message is meant to be received by everyone at the same time, or even at all.
I do not condemn religion; I recognize it for what it is now. Religion is the practice of something. Just because one doesn’t identify with a religion, it does not revoke the validity of their spirituality and faith. My outlook on religion is that no religion is the only truth, but truth can be found in them all.
My spirit is what I feed now. Our minds are magnets and what we think about is attracted into our lives through manifestation. Today I look for wisdom, lessons, creative ideas and beauty in experiences I used to hold myself back from, even in some experiences I would have viewed as negative. My understanding of love has changed throughout my awakening and I can now give and receive love in ways I didn’t know was possible. I learned to enjoy the present and take it for what it is, a gift. Both the past and the future are untouchable and nonexistent, therefore, all we ever really have is right now. Life is, literally, what we make it. Make yours extraordinary.
Olivia is a student of life, reaching in different directions to create her life by design. She has found her niche in yoga several years back and is working towards her certification this year to be able to teach.
You can find her daily insight and inspiration regarding self-care, female empowerment, manifestation, raising collective consciousness, yoga, and many other topics on:
Contact Olivia by email: firstname.lastname@example.org