February 13, 2007

Moving from Fear to Love

As a young adult, I considered myself an agnostic -- I didn't know if God existed or not, at least that is what I told myself. In 1975 I become a part of 12 Step Recovery and at each meeting I heard the words "God" and "Higher Power." I grimaced, I had an attitude -- I internally ridiculed and mocked whoever spoke such words thinking how queer it was.

As I endeavored to work The Program, however, I discovered that my proclaimed agnosticism was really a cover up for fear. I did, in fact,believe in God, but I didn't want to, because my Higher Power was a punishing God. The song tells us that Santa Claus "knows when you've been good or bad so be good for goodness sakes." Well, that also described my Higher Power.

I had spent years and years convincing others how good I was, but I knew and therefore God knew about all the "little bads" (telling my brother to stick his lip on the ice cube tray and when it pulled off some skin feigning ignorance and compassion-- "Oh, you poor thing, I didn't know that would happen." Or the little deceits such as paying someone a compliment and then making fun of that person in my head. Or pretending to always be happy, good, and loving -- when I felt just the opposite). I saw myself as a phony and God knew about the deception.

Therefore, if I believed there was a God, then I was in trouble because He was keeping track and knew that I was deceitful, dishonest, and not the person I pretended to be. And since, "He knows when you've been good or badÅ " I was in for some big time punishment. My greatest moments of inner terror occurred after my second child was born. I had two healthy children (first a girl, then a boy, just what I wanted). I had a successful husband, a lovely home with two cars in the garage, etc., etc.

My fear: payback time. And what better way to get back at me than through my children. So each day I awoke riddled with fear -- is today the day God will strike one of my children with an incurable disease? I lived this way for months and it was pure agony.

My turning point came at a 12 Step Retreat weekend when my son was about nine months old. I heard the main speaker talk about God saying "God loves me no matter what." That got my attention -- I had believed that I had to be good to get love, from my parents, from God, from everyone. Unconditional love, what a concept! My spiritual awakening was not a bolt of lightening. But it began that day as I chose to open to an unconditionally loving Higher Power.

It was a lot like the soaker hose I use in my garden. When I turn it on, you can hardly see the water that is dripping out, but in the morning the ground is saturated. Opening to an unconditionally loving Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, has allowed me to feel saturated with God's love. It has opened me to a love far beyond what I had ever received on this earth plane.

I no longer believe there is a punishing God -- my Higher Power loves me no matter what! I am profoundly grateful that I have had a spiritual awakening. Instead of the fear I once felt, I now only feel love.

Meryl Hershey Beck

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