my spirituality journey

"My religion is simple, my religion is kindness"
-Dalai Lama

It's about time ladies, gentlemen and all folks that we talk about my beliefs. I know I know, were not supposed to talk about religion or politics and we're not. We're talking about me and my core beliefs.

If you knew me growing up you would know me as the "church girl". I wasn't particularly a Jesus freak but just the only one who took the Jesus stuff seriously at my Catholic high school. That and going to church every Sunday. That was enough to get me promoted to "the executive church girl". Believe me I wasn't that involved nor did I even know many verses and the only bible stories I knew at that point were only the one's adapted into a Dreamworks movies, to be very honest. But the pressure to be good continued. People would censor themselves around me, someone refused to talk to me because I vaped once and they needed time to forgive me!!! I wasn't allowed to be myself or figure out what that was while in high school. I was in this little-miss-perfect-innocent-box. Movies romanticize this box so to speak, with overprotective brothers, boyfriends and fathers (nevertheless it is still a box). It's men in your life who don't let you dress the way you want to dress, have alcohol, go out with certain people, swear nor ask any questions because they love you. That was the box I was placed in, I had to play up the illusion of cluelessness to keep others comfortable (to not be like all the other girls, "slutty", attention seeking etc.). That was my relationship with religion in high school. For those who knew me back then, I never really had a relationship with religion at all...

Fast forward a couple years and I go off to these yearly church conferences for about 4 years in a row. I'm on fire for God, healed from traumatic events that happened while in high school and felt bold. My prayer life was on and off but again I had to play it up because I was now the Youth Leader at my church. I love young people, God and talking, so it was a perfect fit until I felt like an imposter. I still didn't know many verses, the bible made me sleepy and I just wanted people to love themselves, love others and get along. So after I caught a bad case of imposter syndrome I got out of there. I just wanted to learn about the word at my own pace but that was difficult because of the illusion people had about me. That I knew everything about anything. So how can someone who's played it cool all these years ask for a recap of the Christianity 101 book without being faced with shame and judgement? I moved churches thrice after the age of 15 and I was angry about the lack of stability (especially after moving schools multiple times growing up). Also, being a university student at that point, service made me furious about skipping on work or sleep. It felt like a giant waste of time and I would spend service time taking notes of what to do later or making a grocery list. I had gotten to the point where I was so depleted about keeping up the illusion that I just didn't care anymore.

And that leads us to about last year, where I was resistant to religion and religious people. The racism, sexism, lies, theft, homophobia, hypocrisy was just too much to handle. The toxic culture about women as well as women's bodies, purpose, place. Things like not using a tampon because it makes you impure, the double standards when talking about sex and everything revolving around marriage and a man you've never met before! The silence around racism, #blacklivesmatter, Indigenous rights etc. Everyone seems to be tone deaf to the earthly issues of people who don't look like them. Also being told to not seek mental help and just pray about it and that if you take medication that it's a sign of weak faith. That woman are seductive and treacherous and that that's why we get assaulted (*someone said this not knowing that I was still working through my own struggles of being sexually assaulted in high school which made the process more shameful)). It felt like overtime I ran for help I was met with judgement and toxic positivity. And I'm not going to keep listing why religious people always hit a trigger with me but just know that it's a lot and that I have had enough.

But in the last year and a half, I've struggled, I have been scared, I have lost and felt grief of losing someone. I have basically done the full nine yards of hard emotions and at the end of the day I know that God is real! I am working on letting all the excess chatter fade out. The congregation (group think mentality, gossip, shame), the culture around christianity (being white, thin, pretty, obedient, quiet), the racism, the demonization of African people, bodies, hair and spirituality (that anything with African spirituality, roots and traditions are demonic and in need of saving by the white man's religion. That we have to cookie cutter our original beliefs, hairstyles, clothing, medicine etc. to be holy enough while the white man's culture stays perfectly intact. Why? Because it was made for them!)

Spirituality to me means taking my religion into my own hands. It doesn't mean I don't belong to a religion but that I make my own rules. Religion, as much as people hate to hear it, is man made. What one can do and not do was written by man. But if I have the heart of God and true love, then I know what is true and what is false. I know what is right and what is wrong. I don't have to believe lies about LGBTQ+ peoples if my spirit says otherwise. I don't have to dress, talk and live my life like everyone (every woman) does (getting shamed about cutting my hair because "your hair is your glory" and apparently everyone's business, letting go of shame about sex, clothing and reclaiming my body from the church, parents and community and being removed from the schedule of a speaking engagement because I was the only young woman where the could of fit another man!). I AM MY OWN PERSON. Even though I wasn't in an environment to hear it and be empowered by it. I AM SO INCREDIBLY SMART. I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT. I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS INSIDE OF ME. I AM FULLY CAPABLE OF CREATING THE LIFE I WANT. And I have to understand that they're opinions and rejection don't matter. I have to be okay with standing alone sometimes when it comes to the things that set my soul on fire. My core beliefs are in forgiveness, true acceptance of others, deep understanding of ourselves, staying true to myself through African spirituality, honouring my elders + ancestors + the land that I come from, being reverent of my life, having a deep respect for animals and nature, not casting judgement, spending time alone, communing with other woman, healing from past wounds as well as surrendering daily. I love Love, I want to emobdy Love and light and wish others the same. Next week's blog post is all about how I achieve it through my spiritual practice...

stay tuned and graceful,