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#76786 - 03/18/03 08:23 AM Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
guy43 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/17/02
Posts: 450
Loc: Minnesota
I had a couple of eye-opening, ah-ha moments this past week.

The first was when a Johova's Witness knocked on the door. I was in an agreeable mood and willing to be open to a discussion with this calm, nice older woman. She started asking questions about my beliefs and found myself telling her far more than I thought I would.

We didn't reach any true meeting of the minds, she finally got fed up with my persistent, but gentle I hope, statements of my beliefs - they are completely outside of anything based on the bible, the concept of an afterlife has no meaning to me. What I do with my life now seems far more important. Where we did share common ground was a belief on basic human values (and mine do seem to be firmly based on core Christian/Judeo standards) of how we should treat one another. It justs seems to me that organized religions set up barriers between people if one doesn't choose to be a member of the flock.

It's massively confusing to me. My spirituality is so connected to my recovery, I hope healing from my past will open me to a more satisfying relationship with some outside awareness; where it's a two-way street of some kind of give and take... and maybe even comfort.

I'm still looking for something of meaning to me, a power greater than tiny, self-absorbed me.

My second experience was standing in front of a mirror before going out one morning. To my utter surprise I was able to look at my face, look into my eyes, and not feel revulsion and hatred of my physical appearance. Some inner voice was able to reach me and say "look, you may not be dashingly handsome, but you're not a frankenstein monster". It's all a bit extreme, the negative views of my body and person, but that morning was a small step toward a more realistic view of myself.

jer


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#76787 - 03/18/03 09:35 AM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Jer,
Sometimes when I read your posts I just have to stop and say, "wow." I share your same thoughts on this topic. Recently I've began to ponder my spirituality and my relationship with a higher being. However I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to approach it. Logically I'm rather repulsed at the politics of organized religion and it certainly drives me away. It just makes it a bit difficult to find alternative means of cultivating it. And I, like you, see my recovery tied to my spirituality. So as I recover I find myself asking more questions. It's certainly an interesting time for me. Good post, Jer.
Mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#76788 - 03/18/03 04:44 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
RickL Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 84
Loc: Oregon
Jer,

I too can relate to a lot of what you've shared over the months.

I have been spiritually "hungy" since I was a child. Adversity does that. As a child I was rejected, ostracized, victim role, etc. I absolutely needed to find something outside of "tiny, self-absorbed me". It's not been easy, but I now thank God that I was able to avoid going down some highly self-damaging paths.

My spiritual quest has intensified in recent months. I visited different churches, in hopes of finding "family". My conclusion is that it's primarily between me and God, and while I don't necessarily shun organized religion, I choose to do my own spiritual "digging" (The Bible, other books, prayer, and affirmations) and come to my own inspirations, drinking in "the word" as I do, and asking God how and if something applies. If a good sermon can provide me "fertilzer" for that inspiration, then that's great. And that's about as far as my expectations go with "organized" religion.

I relate to the whole self-image thing you spoke of in looking at yourself in the mirror. I have been overcoming a self deprecating view of my physical appearance for most of my life. As a child I was ostracized for having a large birthmark on my face. Now a beard covers much of it and people don't even notice. And as I "recover" and learn to love myself in healthy ways, I too can appreciate that, perhaps I wouldn't qualify to be a movie star, but I am a handsome man.

Then the Jehova's Witness piece. I had to laugh. I work with them! They don't try to convert me at work, but there's this lady who has come to my door probably 8 times over the last 2 years, because I told her that I worked with so and so. They are persistant aren't they!

Thanks for posting here. I wish more men would post in this religion & survivors forum.

Rick


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#76789 - 03/18/03 06:20 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Jer, like Mike said, “Wow!”

To me it's especially interesting that with your 2 recent ah-ha experiences (aka “epiphanies”) one involves your spirit & the importance of the spiritual in your recovery while the other one concerns your body & how important your body perspective is to your recovery.

Bro, put these two “ah-ha's” together and it looks like you've had a twin set of experiences that may emphasize for you the importance of the mind/spirit-body/physical connection in your recovery, in your life.

This is something I've been forced to be aware of becuz of the interaction of my Complex PTSD, severe depression & OCD with my fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, and TMJ, for instance.

I have to take good care of my spirit & my body, which feed off each other. So the bad new is that if for example I'm not taking care of my spiritual life, my body suffers, partly becuz I'm not as motivated or energized to take care of it, and partly becuz they are vitally connected. But the good news is that if I take care of for instance my body, I feel better in my soul--for the same reasons.

Now I've just started teaching more aerobics classes as well as stretching & exercising more daily. This is part of my work at scheduling my time so I don't have too much of it on my hands & I'm out more & not so isolated. Just my brief work at this is helping me feel better (I mean my emotions) and think more clearly and feel better about myself & my life, as well as feeling better physically, and starting to lose weight & keep my blood pressure dropping.

What's neat is that this additional bodywork gives me more built in opportunities to do spiritual work, and in a way is spiritual work. For example when I do my stretching & light exercises I also meditate sometimes. Even in teaching aerobics I at certain points encourage centered breathing & relaxation meditation of sorts, whatever each person is comfortable with according to their own feelings & spirituality.

Speaking of spirituality, Jer (& Mike mentions this too), your comments really hit home for me as someone who for many years has been quite involved in the institutional church, tho I grew up totally unchurched & even now have very much a love-hate relationship, tho I think increasingly healthier & balanced.

It continues to amaze me that I meet so many people--and not just online--who realize how important their spiritual/soul life is, yet are turned off by the churches as far as possible answers & support. Jer, I talk to so many folks who hold to some degree--often a very high one--to the teaching of Jesus/The Bible, but find themselves unable to put much faith in the churches that--ideally--represent Jesus as they teach & follow The Bible.

While many others, including yourself, might well disagree with me, this says something not only about how poorly many churches (the ones who get the publicity, unfortunately) are doing their jobs, but about how so many people are still drawn to the spirituality & teachings of Christ & (true) Christianity, as opposed to “Church-ianity”.

Many churches & churchgoers are guilty as charged of both setting up barriers to “outsiders” and of demolishing the barriers of people within & outside the church thru abuse, whether spiritual or sexual.

One of those barriers, frankly, is the concept of the afterlife, or at least the presentation of that concept. Too many churchgoers are way too “Pie in the sky wait till you die,” as tho the afterlife is all that matters. People with such attitudes are certainly at greater risk, since this life doesn't matter so much, of being careless or even abusive in how they treat people & life in this life.

While I do believe in an afterlife, I also believe how we live & treat others in this life has a lot to do with our afterlife. Which is why I strongly affirm that what I do in this life, as long as I'm in this life, is far more important than speculation about the afterlife. To be blunt, I believe all serious Christians believe this & try to live it.

Jer, you're “still looking for something of meaning to me, a power greater than tiny, self-absorbed me.” At least you're looking bro, and you may be closer to it than you may think becuz you are looking at & within yourself in your body & your spirit. You seem to be searching for you, starting to find, appreciate & love you.
\:\)
To me that's where you finally find meaning and that “power greater than yourself.”

LYLAB Jer

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76790 - 03/18/03 07:00 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:
My conclusion is that it's primarily between me and God, and while I don't necessarily shun organized religion, I choose to do my own spiritual "digging" (The Bible, other books, prayer, and affirmations) and come to my own inspirations, drinking in "the word" as I do, and asking God how and if something applies.
Yeah, doing our own spiritual digging, with the help of others but in our own time & way, that's what it's all about. Respecting the right of each person to have & to follow whatever beliefs they choose, as long as they respect others & don't abuse others in so doing.

No matter how strongly I believe something, and even think it will benefit someone else to believe it, the second I in any way try to force my beliefs on someone else I'm committing a form of major spiritual abuse. And no doubt hindering them from ever finding their own way.

Oh that more churches & church people would stop to think about this!

Quote:
If a good sermon can provide me "fertilzer" for that inspiration, then that's great. And that's about as far as my expectations go with "organized" religion.
Hadda chuckle at this one, bro... \:D

...some sermons provide good fertilizer for healthy spiritual growth... \:\)

and others are just old dried out useless shit! :p

TC & TTYL my friend

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76791 - 03/18/03 07:49 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
Hi Guys,

Just a couple of quick thoughts.

Anything worth while gets organized. MS was worthwhile so now it is organized with a board etc etc.

If a person wants to know about a religion they certainly can't just visit the parish a time or two. In my church, as an example, it takes a full year of study, prayer, evaluations etc. to become able to say YES, I want to join.

Religion gets a bum rap, in my opinion because some people make the religion god and do not ever have a deeply moving spiritual experience.

Spirituality is different than religion, but they often go together. Religion is mostly about creed, cult and code. Spirituality is much broader and more life-giving. It is a terrific challenge to be a good Christian, or Jew, or Moslem, or Buddist etc. No room for superficial relations here.

If a person seeks spirituality they will, I believe, always find God and have their own special relationship with God. So we are all in the hunt for a sense of meaning in life, ala Victor Frankl.

Peace and joy to us all.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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#76792 - 03/19/03 01:07 AM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
Vic,
You bring up a very interesting point with the the mind/spirit-body/physical connection. The other day Mike Church started a thread concerning self-image. I mentioned in that thread that I have this scar on my shoulder and that I'm horribly ashamed about it. Truthfully, it's not that big but for me it's a manifistation of what I've been feeling inside. As I've started to make that connection and see the scar for what it really is, I've begun to feel more comfortable with myself. It's similar to how Jer describs looking into the mirror. I think being physically comfortable with yourself frees up a lot of energy. It's energy that lets your mind grow in ways that it never was able to in the past. Of course this all sounds good. I'm just at the beginning of this process.

Bob,
Quote:
Religion gets a bum rap, in my opinion because some people make the religion god and do not ever have a deeply moving spiritual experience.
I tend to agree with you on this statement. I have a hard time accepting religion when you have mainstream religious leaders trying to condemn people who don't live in accordance to their views of what God should be. An example of this is when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson made comments on how 9/11 was our punishment for accepting homosexuality. I find that absurd and it completely and entirely turns me off from religion. Of course they retracted their statements only after sufficient pressure was applied but nonetheless those statements came from their gut. They weren't trying to send any broad, life-giving statements with those remarks. Anyway, I rambled a little bit but I think this example shows my point.
Mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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#76793 - 03/19/03 01:42 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Jer

Quote:
Where we did share common ground was a belief on basic human values (and mine do seem to be firmly based on core Christian/Judeo standards) of how we should treat one another.
I agree entirely with you on this, and a Christian friend of mine say's that if I abide by these kind of moral standards then I must be a Christian ?

Many happy hours arguing that one \:D

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#76794 - 03/19/03 05:46 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:
I think being physically comfortable with yourself frees up a lot of energy. It's energy that lets your mind grow in ways that it never was able to in the past. Of course this all sounds good. I'm just at the beginning of this process.
Mike, that's a great point! And it sounds to me like you're further along than you think. Hey we're all in process, my friend. \:\)

Quote:
I have a hard time accepting religion when you have mainstream religious leaders trying to condemn people who don't live in accordance to their views of what God should be. An example of this is when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson made comments on how 9/11 was our punishment for accepting homosexuality. I find that absurd and it completely and entirely turns me off from religion.
Something I have to constantly remind myself of is that usually religious leaders, especially the more vocal ones that get the publicity ("the squeaky wheel gets the oil"), are hopelessly out of touch with and out of line with the majority of your "average everyday Christians." Despite their huge churches, organizations, TV shows etc,
these people--like Falwell & Robertson--by no means represent the beliefs, opinions, interests or priorities of the vast majority of Christians.
Quite the contrary, as I see it.

That's the problem with big organizational bureaucracies--they too easily get out of touch with those they are called to represent & serve, becoming self-representing & self-serving. And often having the cast iron nerve to come across as if they represent the people they've lost touch with in the process.

This is not inevitable, and there are some great church leaders out there; I know a few personally!

However in the Church, as in any organization, lasting positive change inevitably comes from the bottom up not the top down. It's the grass roots salt of the earth people who do the real work in day to day living that get it done. When church or organizational leaders manage to remain such down to earth people, so much the better for sure!

Whoa, talk about rambling!... \:o

And just for the record IMNSHO Falwell & Robetson's comments were asinine to say the least!

OK now I'll get down off my soapbox, to your communal sighs of relief!

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#76795 - 03/19/03 10:00 PM Re: Small spiritual steps *** possible triggers ***
Mike Church Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 01/23/03
Posts: 3439
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I agree with all that is said about the beaurocratic churches but we should not forget that there are a hell of a lot of great people in all the churches. When I got off the street and saw a priest (who happened to be gay) he told me that God forgave me for what I had done and been and that there had to have been a reason why I did it and that it should be delt with. To think I had the opportunity right there to get on with it and did not take it makes me want to cry for the wasted years. But that is past and I am healing.
I can also look in the mirror now and I am reasonably happy with what I see. Warts and all. It has been a bumpy ride but by god I am gonna live life to the fullest from now on.

And I do hope that all the kind people I have met both in and outside the churches continue to act in a truly human way to peoples troubles. We are blessed to have healers amongst us. But most of all I am grateful for the love and support I find at this site from all of you. I am especially thankful for the vigilance that Wuamei and the others take here to keep it safe for us. You cannot begin to understand what that means to me.

On another topic I got a reply from the Premier of Ontario to the letter I sent him regarding the Mens Project in Ottawa. He thanked me for the information and the insight I had given him regarding abuse and all its ramifications. He said that he had personally forwarded my letter to the Attorney General with his comments and that I should hear from him shortly.


I think that this may be a huge step for us and am keeping my fingers crossed. I will keep you all informed.

_________________________
Mikey

IT REALLY IS OK TO STUMBLE. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT.

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