On Daily Om, we are often advised to “look within” to begin the change we want to see in the world. For instance, in one meditation, I read:
Owning The Roots
Leading By Example We all know from experience that we can’t change other people, yet most of us have a tendency to try. This is because we naturally feel the need to do something to change situations that we find troubling. It often doesn’t occur to us that the best way to create change is not to try to convince others to change but to change ourselves. When we make adjustments from within, we become role models for others, and leading by example is much more inspiring than a lecture or an argument.
We sometimes look outside ourselves for what’s wrong with the world, but the outside world is really just a mirror reflecting us back to ourselves. When we encounter negativity—anger, depression, fear—we empower ourselves by looking for its roots inside of ourselves. For example, if you have a friend who is unreliable, observe yourself and notice if there are ways in which you are unreliable. You may be surprised to discover that you have your own struggles with this issue in ways you weren’t able to see. Once you own the issue for yourself, you can begin to work for change within yourself. This will also enable you to have more compassion for your friend. At the very least, as you strive to become more reliable, you will become more of the person you want to be. In the best-case scenario, you will be an inspiration to others.
You can apply the same method to larger issues. For example, if there is something you see in the larger world that you would like to change—let’s say, greed—try taking responsibility for changing it in yourself. Instead of being angry with those you see as greedy, seek out the roots of your own greed and come to terms with your power to transform it. This may be the best way to lead the world toward greater moderation and generosity.
I’ve become convinced that the hurtful relationships inside of church and the attitudes of some Christians cannot be changed. I’ve tried to reason with some of them, but alas, the stubbornness of the fundamentalist mind set is boggling. It wasn’t until I decided to change myself, my beliefs, and my churchgoing that things began to look up. Rather than blame them, I blamed my inability to think like they do and finally walked away.
Now some might think that it’s a first step toward healing. It is for me, but those from whom I walked away cannot seem to accept that I want to change myself to this degree. Nor can they believe it’s for the better! “How can you walk away?” they ask, “Don’t you know that walking away puts your faith in question?” “You can’t be a Christian alone!” “You need us!” Notice, they never say that I am needed by them. It is always me that is in “need” of something that only “they” can provide where they are. Only they have the correct doctrine. Only they have the correct sacraments. Only their teachers have the correct interpretation or the correct form of fellowship. None others need apply.
Well, the one thing they could not provide was peace of mind. The pastor I’ve been emailing with is still stuck on “the church is an incarnational institution,” one that he says can ONLY be found within a physical location in a particular place. I counter that the “church” is a body whether inside a building or scattered to the four winds. I’m not even sure why I’m bothering with countering it, because I’m pretty sure I will never grace the doorstep of another church again and his responses are part of the reasons why. I don’t even believe in this “mystical” body of Christ thing any longer. It’s become purely academic to me, something I just discovered recently. One day I was discussing and arguing with various people here and with people I knew and suddenly it hit me, “Why am I going to all this trouble to argue, when I don’t believe a word I’m saying?” I just stopped talking. And you know what? It was the most relief I’ve felt since leaving my first husband! I don’t have to perpetuate this any longer. It’s not what I want.
You see, it does not matter what I think to these people. Those obsessed with following this or that Christian teacher, those pastors in charge of “growing” a flock to support their lifestyles, and those with all of their time invested in “church” as an institution cannot admit that they are perhaps wrong about it all. I know I was wrong about it all.
This blog is the consecrated space for me to work out my own spirituality, not with “fear and trembling” but with strength and growing peace of mind. I cannot help it that fundie wackos congregate here like flies hoping to pick the “dead carcass” of my Christianity clean, not by ministering, but by spouting nonsense that I’ve heard before. I’m done with wrangling about ideas that others think are important but I do not. Like Daily Om says, the best way for me to face these people is to begin with myself. I’m not going to allow them to disturb the space I’ve carved out for myself here on the web, nor am I going to allow them to disturb my peace. I can’t even muster up the anger, because it no longer means that much to me. I see that as a good thing! I can’t help how other people think, but they sure don’t have to “think it” in my space unless I want them to.