Annie M's Experience
I was raised by parents who were very devout members of a "fringe" religion, one of the many brought to the U.S. in the 1960's. My parents religious convictions and dead-serious determination to save the world through this doctrine was the axis of our family. The church's doctrine taught that God is immeasurably sad by the sins of his children. And that our mission is to help shoulder God's burden with a brave face, to be one of the very few 'lights' in this world. My family was loving and happy, but there was not doubt in my or my siblings' minds that the church came first. From infancy, one or both parents left for missionary trips for months at a time, and I accepted without question that, of course, saving the world was more important than me. From childhood I was very attracted to 'doing the right thing' and I adopted my parents' belief system fervently and without question. Long story short, after years of self-propelled indoctrination, including a very intense stint as a church missionary, I left the insulated environment of the church and of my family and entered University.
This was a shock, to say the least. As I struggled to 'save the world' and understand adult life through my lens of religious conviction, I became increasingly depressed and anxious. In reading past journal entries, I can see that I was very hard on myself. I berated myself for being selfish, for being sad, for failing to be God's light.
One night, as a freshman in college, I sat on the floor of a rented bedroom, crying, as I did just about every night. This evening I was also praying intently, apologizing to God for being weak. For being such a terrible person. Begging for clarity about how to be a better child of God.
Suddenly, I experienced a thunderous jolt of blue electric energy surge through my body. The electric energy thundered through me, making me tremble from the intensity of the physical and emotional experience. Simultaneous to this internal lighting was a voice that reverberated viscerally through me: I LOVE YOU.
'You can't love me,' I protested, continuing with the self-blame and exhausting perfectionism. 'I'm such a failure, I never do enough--'
But I was interrupted with another bolt of blue, internal thunderous lightening, shocking and overwhelming me with its power : I LOVE YOU.
And I began to cry because this was the love that I had never known existed, but that I had nonetheless always longed for. I cried in astonished relief because it didn't matter what I did. It didn't matter if I failed, if I was selfish, or if I even tried to live a good life. I am loved in the most elemental, powerful way.Now I can't say that I dramatically changed from that declaration on. It took me a (surprisingly) long time to realize that I could let go of the church dogma and still be left with the authentic and personal gems of spiritual evolution. But through that tumultuous transition away from my deep-rooted beliefs and in untangling the authentic from the otherwise, the message 'I LOVE YOU' remained stable within me. I continue to experience bouts of depression when life is tough and I don't know how to proceed sometimes. But I love myself. The core 'me'- under the social awkwardness and acne scars that I can't always embrace. And I love the core 'me' of others, under the anger, petty meanness and disabilities exposed to the world.