I woke up to the following email from my sister in Nashville today.
Hi there sister,
Hope the rest of your weekend was good!
This an article by Anne Graham, Billy Graham’s daughter. It’s about being hurt by “God’s people.” She also wrote a book on the subject—the title is at the end of the article.
I thought it was a good read. No pressure for you to read it, but I thought I’d pass it along.
Here is my response.
I know you heart is in the right place.
I am not sure if your email was prompted by our conversation a few days ago when I was telling you about my conversation with Bonnie the Psychic in regards to my quest in the last few years of “finding a group.”
I didn’t finish telling you the whole story.
Basically, she reaffirmed what I have known in my gut to be true for me, that “everything I need is within me” and that I do not need to look to outside sources.
I then asked her, “Is that okay?” because that is how I feel, that it is okay. I just needed to know that my tendencies to isolate myself as of late were not harming me in some way. And the teachers I look up to like Oprah, Marianne Williamson, Buddha, and even Jesus talk about this concept (that the kingdom is within).
The reason I do not attend church any longer isn’t because of the past wounds inflicted by those within the church that I attended. That seems like a lifetime ago.
I no longer believe the things I believed up until my late twenties.
I try not to really talk about this. I thought I had conveyed to our younger cousin Danae and to you, a few years ago, that I do not have the same fundamental/traditional beliefs in heaven, hell, God and the Bible that I did from childhood and through my twenties.
When Aunt Cathy wanted to talk about it with me, I knew it would not go well, so I avoided it. I know our brother Nick has reached out, but again, I am very careful about this. I do not want to disillusion anyone. I get why Mom insists that I keep the beliefs that I no longer hold, but I would be lying if I told her I did.
So, I say nothing.
It is interesting that you sent this today though, because I watched a two hour special with Oprah and Marianne Williamson. (She is a minister—do you know of her?)
It was about prayer, and a lot of it hit home. I do pray. And I do have belief in God (but it does not look like the man on the cloud). I do believe that Jesus, the man, existed. I believe heaven and hell are here on Earth. And in our mind. I do know that I have been creating a kind of hell within myself and I am now ready to create my own heaven.
These are my beliefs and I would never try to convince someone to see things or believe things in the way that I do.
Even if I think I’m right (which I don’t) and that I have a lot of truths I could share, it is not my place.
I believe that none of us really know, because, truly, it all is a big mystery. We all put our heart and faith in alignment with what we truly believe. Beliefs can evolve and change over time—in both directions.
I love you and I do understand the worries that those with traditional faiths have about people like me—mainly, that I will be going to hell. So I get why you sent that link. And I am guessing that you also wanted to suggest a place where I could find a group or get a sense of community. And perhaps you were hoping I’d let go of past hurts. In this instance, I have. Again, truly, this subject has been the least of my current concerns.
My truth is mine alone.
I think that within our own minds, there are variations of our truths. Cookie cutter religion is a myth. But there exists a fear causing us to question certain things, or at the very least, to examine them without internal and external guilt. We do have this freedom though; this is the gift of our humanity.
To me, God is love. The world needs a lot more love, thus the world needs more God.
Again, thank you for your kindhearted intentions.
I hope our differences do not adversely affect our sisterhood or our relationship. I have truly enjoyed getting closer to you throughout the years. I consider you one of, if not the, closest friend I have. And I am grateful that you allow me to be who I am, that you see me and you accept me.
Love to you,
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Ed: Catherine Monkman