Conflicted... It's long, but there is a point to it all...I promise!

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So, I grew up Catholic. Still am when I choose to be. Depends on the church, the priest, the day, the mood, do I feel like sitting in a room full of people paying total attention to someone's crying kids? Do I want to dress up? After all if you can't dress up for God who then?

Or, originally, listening to the Homily and getting pissed off and crying because my boyfriend said we were all sinners, and who were we to say divorce and abortion are a mortal sin? I'm in high school, why was I worrying about these things? Should've gotten a clue looking back. Angry because no one could tell me the differences in religions...why were we against Lutheranism? What made it okay for Women to be Pastors in the Episcopalian and Methodist churches but not my own? Why do I need to go to confession to tell a man I'm sorry for my sins and not God? Why can't anyone answer my questions? Why won't someone tell me why we interpret the Bible, because lets face it, people just don't stone each other to death anymore and the Baptist's follow it down to the last Thee, Thy and Though.? Who said I'm not "saved"? I believe Jesus died on the cross for me. I'm not saved because I don't have "the feeling". What feeling? Why is it all about being afraid? Wasn't Jesus about love and peace, and the conflictedness of Free Will?

Then there was the Priest who brought me back to the church. I was single, had just graduated from college and my safe space, church? Who needs it? I did. I needed a sense of community and purpose in my life because I was on my own now, and Father H. helped me realize this. He was thought provoking, accepting and real. Did missionary work in Haiti, which was his passion, brought EVERYONE into the church, race, creed, color, and sexual preference. Yes, this meant homosexuals as well. Amen! Finally, someone "of God" who really does forgive and love EVERYONE. Yes, the Bible says it's wrong, but... then there's the whole Bible thing. What about the Koran (don't jump on me people, they are just questions and valid ones at that) ?

Well in the midst of my conflictedness, things seemed to become a little clearer for me. This is where I belonged. I was much so, that my husband went through their RCIA program and converted to Catholicism because he believed too. We were married in this church, with Fr. H, our family and friends and all the love in the world.

Then we were hit with...Fr. H is taking a hiatus...he died six months later from AIDS. Hmmmm..... lessons to be learned here?

Then there was the priest who told my 4 year old at Christmas Eve mass that there was no Santa Claus. WHAT?????!!!! There isn't?

Then I found Eastern philosophy. To me, this is how we should all live our lives. In peace, and goodness. It's so easy to see the bad in people, why not try to find something positive in it all? Sure does make one a lot happier in life. I just want to make informed decisions! Why can't anyone give me a straight answer?????? Because, I now know, there isn't one. At least, I don't think there is. See my confusion?

I've since learned some truths about psychics and psychos, people who have talked and believe they still can talk to aliens; met my spirit guides; learned to heal the body through energetic channeling, learned that phobias and unknown illness, known illnesses and many other problems are manifestations of being stabbed with a sword or burned to death or tortured in some unknown manner in a past life, etc, etc. and still don't believe that I'm going to hell for it all!

Because I'm only 37 years old and I'm still learning and that's okay.

Because, I still go to church, and take what I can get from it, especially that sense of community and family.

Because I still believe in God and what He stands for. I believe Jesus took on human form to bring peace to a chaotic world and that though we're headed that way again, we will find a resolution to it all soon.

Because I still believe that there is something to be learned in everything that happens to you good and bad. At least this is where I am at right now.

So here's the challenge, do you agree? If so, read on and I challenge you to live life like I do!

You need community. Communities that share the same belief systems as you do. You need to try to live your life the way you want others to live...set an example. And then follow these four things....some I'm better at than others but here they are:

From The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

1. Be impeccable with your word.

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, thier own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. (Obviously I need to work on this one!)

3. Don't make assumptions.

Find the courage go ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.

4. Always do your best.

This will change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy than when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

Good luck! You're gonna need it!