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My Personal Journey with the Church and Religion : Episode 249

 

Hey, sister! Welcome back to a Taylored Adventure to Happiness. If you are new, welcome! If you are a regular, I love ya, I love ya, I love ya!

Life is such a wild ride! Can we just all agree on that right now? I feel like every time I look back, five years, ten years, or even one year, I’m blown away by how far I’ve come and how many twists and turns there have been. It’s exhilarating! I have completely new beliefs, and in some areas of my life, I’ve done a 180. But that’s the beautiful thing about life — we’re always evolving and ascending, and we get to learn, grow, and change our minds.

Today, I’m sharing my spiritual evolution — the things I used to believe and the new perspectives I have. I’m really excited to share this message with you because the women in my community have highly requested it. I’ll be walking you through my journey from being a religious child, to becoming an atheist, to the beautiful relationship I enjoy with God today.  

This is a super juicy message, but it’s also heavy because I’m not holding back. I’m very forward about the trauma that led me to atheism. I’m also very honest about my perspective of faith and organized religion. So, I encourage you to be in a space, emotionally and physically, where you can receive. If the content triggers you, don’t fight it — be with it. Whether you’re super religious or anti-religion, be curious and open-minded. Let the message unfold and see where it goes. 

Finally, I’m bringing you this storyline of sorts from the depths of my heart because I know, from personal experience, that a spiritual transformation can be one of the most challenging, scary, and excruciating journeys you’ll ever take. But sister, making it to the other side is absolutely worth it! 

So without further ado, let’s hop into today’s rollercoaster of a message!

My “Good Christian” Childhood

I grew up Lutheran and attended some non-denominational churches along the way. I went to Bible school every summer and Sunday school every Sunday after church. My family prayed before dinner, but we didn’t have crosses all over the house, and my parents didn’t teach us how to pray as a spiritual practice. In our house, praying was just a church thing. In other words, our world didn’t revolve around religion, but it was in our household enough for us to understand that God’s in charge and the church is where you go to confess your sins.

When I was a young girl, I remember being taught in Sunday school about Noah’s Ark and how two of each animal were on board. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how a boat could be that big, so I told my teacher, “I can’t imagine that many animals in the Ark. I don’t believe that’s true.” And she got mad at me. She said, “It’s in the Bible; therefore, it’s true.” That was my first experience questioning the Bible.

I was shut down in the same manner when I asked about the Red Sea parting: “How could someone just part the sea? Wouldn’t it be scary? And wouldn’t that be a really long walk?” Eventually, I conformed and stopped asking questions. That’s also when I lost interest in the Bible. 

In late elementary school, I attended a Christian Academy in Colorado, where they made us memorize Bible verses. I questioned that too, “Why do we have to memorize these things? Why can’t I just read the Bible and learn from it in my own way?” That turned me off to religious stuff even more because — shocker of shockers — I don’t like being put in a box! 

My Experience as a Preacher’s Kid

While all this was taking place, my mom worked as a consultant, and my dad was the president of a computer software company. Then one day, out of the blue, my father announced, “Hey, I’m going to become a pastor, which means I need to go to seminary. So, we’re all moving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.”

My whole body had a visceral response to that news. All I could think was, “Wait! What do you mean? We’re not even that religious. I didn’t know that ministry even spoke to you.” And my dad said God sent him a message to be a pastor, so that’s what he was going to do. Within the next three weeks, we left our dream home with a basketball court and 60 acres to live in a teeny-tiny apartment in Pennsylvania. 

My dad excelled during seminary. As a charismatic individual, people watched him during worship, and he started to become well-known. I remember that feeling so weird to me. I didn’t understand why people worshiped a human when they were supposed to be praying and talking directly to God. 

During his time in seminary, he started to forget us. He got so wrapped up in his schooling that church became his priority instead of his family. He stopped coming to our games. He stopped spending time with us. I felt neglected. At this point, I already resented the church for shutting down my curiosity. Now I blamed them for changing my dad and saw the church as a place that was anti-family.

We moved to Maryland when my dad graduated, and he became the lead pastor of a church. During this time, the church grew and grew, and I was forced to attend. I vividly remember my mom picking me up from sleepovers to get to the service on time because I was the pastor’s kid. After church, we stood in a line, greeting and hugging all the parishioners before going home.

Sister, before I move on to the next chapter of my spiritual journey, I want to point out that I truly believe my parents and my Sunday school teachers were all trying the best they could with what they had. I don’t agree with many of their choices, but I honor their effort and intentions. This is a really important step to healing and transformation in your spiritual journey. 

Stating the hurt inflicted by someone else’s mistakes and acknowledging the goodness of their intentions is a powerful act of surrender. This kind of surrender allows you to release old ways of believing and step into a leveled-up version of yourself. 

How I Became an Atheist

One day during my senior year of high school, I came home to my parents fighting. My mom stormed out of the house crying, which surprised me because that’s something she never did. When I asked my dad about it, he said that mom was mad because he had ridden in the car with a woman she asked him not to.

A few months later, my dad announced, “I’m not feeling called to be a pastor anymore. I’m going to resign and take a position as the pastor at a retirement community.” I was so confused — why would my dad move us across the country and spend ten years building his life around this only to let it go? But I trusted him and went along with it. What else was I supposed to do?

Turns out, my dad was actually sleeping with the woman he was caught in the car with. My dad didn’t resign and take a job at a retirement home because he wanted to. He did it because he had to. My mom told the Bishop of all Lutheran churches what my dad was doing, and the Bishop demanded that he leave the church. After that, my dad was only allowed to work as a pastor in a retirement community. 

As the years continued to unfold, so did my father’s choices, and his drastic transitions started to make sense. My dad hadn’t just slept with one woman from church. He was sleeping with multiple parishioners while giving them marriage counseling. How fucked up is that?! And on top of all that, my dad had a 20-year affair with a woman who lived on the east coast, which is why he chose a seminary in Pennsylvania. 

As I’m sure you can imagine, my questioning of religion and church turned into complete opposition towards all things church, faith, God, and religion. I became an atheist. I was so completely opposed to all this religion that at my first wedding, I told my brother, who was performing the ceremony, not to mention anything remotely related to faith or God. 

I truly believed the Bible was a joke. Anytime I heard the word “God” or “The Word of God,” it triggered me. Then my nephew died in a tragic accident, which solidified the thought that “If God were real, he wouldn’t have let this happen. There was no way he would do this to one of his children.”

Sister, I hope this part of my story encourages you to have compassion for yourself. Life takes us through shit. That shit changes the way we see the world. There is no shame in questioning and turning away from the beliefs you grew up with. You are allowed to challenge them and walk away from them. This is your life and your spiritual journey. Relax, be present with yourself, and trust that the higher powers that exist are guiding you.

My Current Faith and How I See God

My atheist phase lasted for four or five years until I was 23 and came across self-development. I was introduced to the self-help world when I put myself in anger management and overeaters anonymous. Overeaters anonymous is a lot like alcoholics anonymous — they use the same step program, where you surrender to a higher power. But I said, I was still super triggered by the word “God” and didn’t even believe one existed.

However, I decided to give surrendering to a higher power a chance, and it helped me get out of the victim box I had put myself into. Gradually, I came to believe that there had to be something that allowed life to unfold and magic to happen. To trust that everything was happening for me, even the stuff with my dad and nephew, I had to believe that there had to be something more woke than me. This pivot led to a full-blown spiritual awakening. 

I began to see God — this deity that we worship — as he/she energy. I never liked that God was always referred to as a man, but I thought, “I can get down with God being this energy entity that is love.” This was when I decided that I was a spiritual person. I educated myself on everything I could get my hands on — Buddhism, Hinduism, Chakras, understanding the root of beliefs, and cultivating the energy of Shiva and Shakti. It felt good to me because I realized that through them, I could reach love within myself.

Over time, I replaced my painful story of religion with the belief that all religions lead to the same thing — love. As I lived from this new energy, my tendencies for overeating and feelings of anger went away. Then, I started to breathe life into this idea through praying in my own unique way, meditation, and listening to my inner guidance, which I believe is God-energy. 

At this stage of my spiritual evolution, I didn’t experience any Catholic-guilt, but I work with many women who do. Catholic-guilt is feeling shame and remorse for things you don’t need to apologize for. It’s an overactive conscious telling you you’re going to hell for something as simple as forgetting to brush your teeth or not sending your second cousin a “thank you” note for the birthday present she sent you two years ago. 

If you’re Catholic and you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, Catholic-guilt is so real” sis, this is what I always share with my clients who are releasing that:

Unlearn who you know God to be and relearn that God is love. Whether you think it’s a man or energy, it doesn’t matter. Just believe that God is love. This God — energy, he, she, it, the Universe — wants you to be in love with yourself and learn and grow. Therefore, anything you did that someone would label as bad or wrong is just neutral because it is all growth. That means messing up or doing something “bad” doesn’t send you to hell. It just means you’re growing and learning how to be a better version of yourself. 

Why You Need to Start Questioning Your Beliefs Today

No matter where you’re at in your spiritual journey — whether yours mirrored mine or you just got a few nuggets of inspiration from this message — I want you to know that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. So my challenge to you is this: Question every belief you have that doesn’t feel like truth, even if it’s scary and goes against what your parents currently believe in.

Many of my clients and the women in my community are fearful of making a spiritual shift because their partner or parents are super religious. They’re scared of what the repercussions might be, but I urge you if you feel the pull to question something, that’s exactly what you should do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel the pull. 

Please question your beliefs. Even if you believe in them, challenge them. Allow yourself to dig deeper into what you know to be true. Allow yourself to receive guidance. Read books about history and get to know who Jesus and Mary Magdalene really were because they were amazing teachers and humans. 

Sister, give yourself the gift of allowing yourself to expand beyond what you already know and lean into what feels good. Be the spiritual weirdo in your family even if others don’t believe in you. You never know — you might inspire them to do the same. 

The world needs different. You’re ready to be the different one. So, be different!

What a rollercoaster, right?! If this hits home for you, I need you to do something for me! Please, please, please take a screenshot of this and share it on Instagram. Tag me, @iamtaylorsimpson, and let me know what you learned! Let’s remind people that they’re not alone in their spiritual shifts and journeys. 

Thank you for being a part of my life! I love you. I see you. And, as always, choose happiness because, well, why the fuck not?

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