As a child, I remember looking forward to Sundays. It was another day to sleep in. Dinner was always a classic – some kind of roast with a side of veg and potatoes that could be re-purposed into a casserole mid week.
Most of all, my favorite thing about Sunday was sitting down with my family to watch a movie, which was usually a feel-good Disney flick.
When I began school and was old enough for sleepovers, Sunday mornings were no longer a chance to sleep-in, because most of my friends and their families were Church goers. And sleepovers were VERY important because it gave my friends and me solid hours together to work on our projects, like writing and illustrating our first book ‘The Adventures of Snowy the Owl.’
Sleepovers were the perfect opportunity for me to test out different religions. For some reason, I have always been drawn to learning more about the All Mighty.
My immediate family didn’t go to church. We had bibles in our house as well as a cross where Jesus painfully hung on our wall – but we opted out of Church….another long story.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed attending all the various Churches – United, Baptist, Catholic, and so on… I didn’t whole-heartedly buy-in to any one religion. There were aspects that I could appreciate and accept, but what I couldn’t accept was that God was a man. Why couldn’t God be a female? No one seemed to know.
The story of Adam and Eve seemed flawed because it implied our race was born from incest – gross.
And the most confusing was that God gave us a choice – free will – and then turned around and became vengeful and spiteful of our choices AND blamed it on a woman nonetheless!
To make me even more confused as a kid, I was taught that all these ‘wrong choices’ would be made right, if I just accepted Jesus into my heart. So as a child, I concluded I could do whatever I wanted because all I had to do was ask Jesus for forgiveness.
After trying that on for size for a while, it obviously didn’t feel right at all. Back to the drawing board, back to Church I went. I was determined to find the answers.
When I hit my teens, some awful things happened to our family. Our cousin lost his life in the Bosnian War. My grandfather on my dad’s side passed away. I was also in a car accident that shattered my elbow – to be told by doctors I would never be able to use it again. Things only seemed to get worse for us at that time.
Each time we thought we got a step ahead, a tragedy would happen and take us three steps back.
All of these challenges led me to become angry towards God. What kind of God would have all of these terrible, horrible, awful things happen to us?
During the summer before college, things hadn’t gotten any better. Financially I was in a bind. I had been living on my own for two years and I was desperate to make money to support myself for the school year. One of the businesses I worked for became bankrupt and without any warning, I lost two weeks pay and a steady income.
I was fed up.
I was tired of struggling and I still wanted the answers I was seeking about God.
I wanted help but didn’t know who to turn to.
I needed life to be easy for a change, but I had no idea how to get through the struggles.
So I headed to my favorite spot near one of our local ponds to contemplate, which turned into sobbing in defeat. A full-on surrender to the Universe.
After crying until the well of tears was dry, I decided to grab a soft swirl at our local ice cream shack up the road. Obviously, because ice cream makes everything better!
When placing my order, I noticed a help-wanted sign in the window and asked for an application. The owner had overheard that someone was asking about the job and came to the window. He stated he recognized me as a waitress from the Chinese restaurant.
I was hired on the spot for a couple shifts a week, agreeing to work around my other part-time waitressing gig.
Rather than being grateful to the Universe for providing me with another pay cheque, I was even more ticked off. Minimum wage to deep fry pogo’s and making soft serve ice cream was NOT what I was put on this planet for.
I was already serving freakin’ chicken balls!
Noticing my frustration after ruining another chocolate dip, the owner took pity on me. He spent extra time teaching me how to perfectly anchor the ice cream in the cone to ensure it didn’t fall out when I turned it upside down into the pot of chocolate. A solid skill to acquire in life.
After an hour of learning ‘the ropes’, he asked me to join him for an ice cream outside at the staff picnic table.
I thought for sure I was going to get fired because that’s the way my luck ran these days.
Instead, I was surprised when he asked why I was so angry. (We always think we can hide our emotions, but most of us are an open book to anyone observant enough to notice.) Guess I wasn’t hiding it very well.
Since I didn’t trust very easily, I left my answer vague.
“Some terrible, awful things have happened to me.”
“Terrible things happen to people all the time Annie. Are you mad at God?”
I was in shock that he said the ‘G’ word. No one had ever brought up God to me unless I was at church.
“There is no fucking God.” My answer shocked him.
He asked me if there was anything he could do to help. Keeping the fence up that I had strategically built around my heart, I decided it would be wise to at least open the front gate and tell him I need more shifts or I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent.
On the spot, he handed me some cash and changed the schedule. The compassion he showed brought me to tears and I was beginning to become grateful for the turn of events.
His final gift was lending me a book titled ‘Conversations with God’ by Neale Donald Walsch. All he said was “read it” and we went back to work.
If there is a defining moment in my life when I became a spiritual person, that was it.
That book, and that owner of the ice cream shack, who eventually became my best friend, were the catalyst to deepening my relationship with God, Goddess, All That Is, The Universe.
Since then, I’ve read many other books that have helped deepen my spirituality and create a practice that works for me. And I believe that is what spirituality is all about.
Taking what feels GOOD for you, what feels RIGHT for you, and making it your own IS what spirituality is all about.
Gratitude, giving abundantly (not just monetarily), keeping my heart and mind open, and compassion was the foundation in which I started my own spiritual practice and are still at the core of my relationship with the Universe.
Maybe you are already religious or spiritual. Maybe you feel like you have a good relationship with the Man/Woman upstairs and you are dialed-in to the flow of The Universe.
If so, I applaud you!
Exploring this life area – Essence + Spirituality – still lights me up on a daily basis. If you are interested in diving deeper into this aspect of your life, consider a Desire Map Workshop or working with my one on one through the process.
Who knows, maybe there will be ice cream? 😉