FEATURE - January 2016 - Kansas City
There is No Right Amount of Devotion
by Stephanie Red Feather
In a recent moment of clarity I realized the key to achieving the happiness I seek does not lie in pleasing some supreme authority or following a specific set of rules to the letter. It is not about putting our desires below God's. It is not about self-sacrifice or denying and suppressing our power, creative expression, or aspirations. It is not about doing enough. (Enough of what? And how much is enough anyway?)
There is no vindictive God sitting up in heaven with a clipboard and a stopwatch, observing us bumping around the maze, trying to figure out how to play a game to which we’ve never been given the rules—all along laughing his butt off as he continues to put checkmarks in the "she didn't get it right again" column.
God is not setting us up to fail, judging and then punishing us because we made a wrong turn. I refuse to believe in a supreme being that would give us freewill, set us up to fail, then condemn us for eternity because we didn't get it right.
But, oh boy, how that belief system has invaded the deepest corridors of our collective psyche. No matter how much my intellectual mind sees and rejects the glaring flaws in that system, I still shudder with incredulity as I observe my reaction to failure and disappointment. I act as if I have a debt to pay that I will never be able to settle—that I must be punished for my transgressions because, surely, I did not get what I wanted because I did not pray long enough and hard enough.
Anybody got a cat-o-nine-tails I could borrow?
We are not being punished when our life doesn't go the way we want! But it is so easy for us to backslide in our enthusiasm and wallow in that place of self-flagellation and doubt at the slightest hiccup in our plans. Somehow our understanding of how we achieve our dreams got coupled with a very specific set of do's and don'ts.
Our guilt would have us believe that if things don't go the way we want, then it's our fault because we didn't (fill in the blank) correctly or long enough. Plus, we now have to pay penance in addition to the toll already being extracted by our self-blame and humiliation.
Here's the real truth: It isn't God who makes you feel flawed. We do it to ourselves.
There is no right amount of devotion! There is no number of minutes a day that we must pray or meditate...or else. Likewise, there is no one formula for creating monetary abundance. There is no right amount of times to attend church. There's no secret "soul mate" dance to attract the perfect partner. There is no singular set of rules to follow to the exclusion of every other set of rules.
Have you ever noticed what state of being you are in when things are going "right" for you? It isn't about how much you prayed that day. It isn't about how many candles you lit, how much money you gave to the homeless guy, or if you went to church on Sunday. Or, conversely, how much you sacrificed—in time, money, energy or dreams.
When we are in the flow with, and feel connected to, our higher Source...this is when everything aligns for us. The peace, happiness, abundance, worth, love, and fulfillment we seek show up for us, effortlessly.
That connection to Source, and what it takes to feel and sustain that connection, is yours to know and yours alone! No one or no thing has the right to tell you what or when or for how long you have to do your spiritual practice to "get" spiritual and then become worthy of whatever you are seeking.
The point of establishing and maintaining that connection to Spirit in the first place is about staying in a state of balance and centeredness so that neither your internal slave driver nor external sources of perceived authority dissuade or define you. From that place of union, you can then can feel and accept all you desire, pray for and dream about.
So what does connection to Spirit look like? It's different for everyone. Only you know what you need to do to feel connected to your Source and, therefore, walk with power and grace in your life. For me, I know I'm in that place when I feel solid and grounded in who I am, believe in my value, own my power, stay out of judgment, feel expansive in my energy field, believe in my dreams, feel connected to everything around me, have clarity about what I want, and experience an effortless sense of joy and trust. I feel an unlimited energy, a buoyancy in my Spirit, as if each step I take is being assisted, requiring little effort on my part.
And, when we lose our connection to Spirit, the path to regaining that connection does not have to lead through self-deprecation, guilt, punishment, and sacrifice. If something isn't going the way you want, you have a choice in how you deal with it. You can abdicate your power, blame it on yourself and proceed to your 20 lashings. Or, you can simply recognize, "Oh, I've lost my connection." Then do whatever it is that helps you reconnect. That's it. No guilt necessary. No debt to be collected. No atonement extracted.
So I have a challenge for you as you go into this New Year: Can you have the courage to release your guilt? Can you let go of whatever belief in punishment still clings to you? Can you trust in your own spiritual practice—defined by you!—to keep you nourished, connected and balanced in your life?
Truly there is no right amount of devotion. There is only what is right for you.
January cover artist Jeanine Handell has donated her art, Experiencing Winter's Inner Glow, to benefit Evolving Magazine.
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Stephanie Red Feather is a shamanic spiritual healer, teacher and life coach who has been serving the Kansas City metro area for nine years. She offers private sessions as well as multiple workshops, trainings and products to support deep transformation and spiritual growth. Visit her website: www.redfeatherconnections.com or call her at 913-515-3271.