One of the biggest obstacles I've experienced in my uncover journey when it comes to religion and the divine is the need for approval and my fear of being judged. And I've found it’s something that’s true for so many women. It often feels like the type of approval that we get within religious spaces is more important than the approval that we might get in other areas. Being told or being seen as good, faithful, inspiring or wise in a space where faith is prioritized can mean more than being told we’re smart or kind. There's something about the type of approval that is given and received in sacred spaces that can be intoxicating and it can be hugely challenging and devasting to break away from it.
I think this is one of the reasons I found it so painful for me to go down a different path. I was really good at church. I was good at asking questions that were thought-provoking, but wouldn't dismantle the whole system. I was good at remembering things in the Bible. I gave a few sermons and they were amazing experiences because it was really meaningful and powerful to feel connected to God and truth. Ultimately though, it was more important for me to figure out a way to carve out my own relationship to God, my own relationship to the divine, my own relationship to feeling like the universe was benevolent and supporting me. And I had to find a way that didn't have to do with what I had been taught.
Judgment and fear can have a power over us that holds us and when we let them take over, it can feel like it’s not worth not doing what we are supposed to do. It’s not worth living our lifestyle the way we want to. It’s not worth showing up as who we really are. Fear and judgment hold us back from what we can be. And there is something specific about the way that we feel it in religion that is worth unpacking as women who are like on a mission to make a difference in the world.
I invite you to think today:
What would it look like for you to access your faith, your spirituality, your connection to the divine if you had absolutely no fear of judgment?
How would you be showing up if you didn’t allow fear and judgment to be your main drivers?
The challenge for so many of us is that we don't always know that that is still really present in our lives. I remember talking to a client a few months ago about this and she told me that although she didn’t go to church anymore or talk to the people in the church, she still heard that voice in her head when she was having sex or going to a place she knew they wouldn’t approve of. Even though she wasn’t part of that world, the voice remained. I remember that same feeling. The fear of not being the “good girl” anymore. The fear also taps into a deeper need as humans to be part of a community. We are social creatures and we are inherently wired with a need to be accepted because thousands of years ago, if our community didn’t approve, we would be “kicked out” and die. So we developed the approval-seeking mechanisms to survive.
To heal these stories, we need to rewire our nervous system and dig into whose voice we’re actually hearing. Is it an old pastor? Is it an old boyfriend from youth group? Is it the girls from Bible study? Then we make a decision: do we really want that to be the voice that decides what we do next?
This doesn't mean that everything stops mattering or we disregard others but it allows us to examine what is true for us and share what is in our hearts. It allows us to explore our faith in a way that feels most alive and connected for us. We don’t need someone to tell us it’s okay or that they approve. We break apart those mechanisms and hold ourselves in safety, knowing that we are experiencing the sacred and divine our way.