The Prodigal’s Awakening by Hawkeye

The Prodigal’s Awakening

by Hawkeye

 

                My perception of God has changed a lot over the years. I grew up in a Christian household, and my family attended a Baptist church. My understanding of the Baptist denomination is that it tends to attract more logical-oriented people who like structure and rules. There aren’t a lot of emotions involved in a typical Sunday gathering at a Baptist church, although from what I hear Southern Baptists can be a little different in that regard.

                It was a great starting point for developing how I viewed God and how He interacted with the universe He had created. The way that God was described to me was that He didn’t like sin. Sin was disobedience against God, and it was the reason that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

                Satan was the enemy of God and humanity, and he ruled over Hell—the place where all sinners go when they die. When I was a very young boy, I remember lying in bed one night and pleading with Satan to stop what he was doing. I believed he could hear me, and with tears streaming down my face I pleaded with him to change his ways. I was too young to realize that from a Christian theological standpoint, it was useless to even try since Satan did not have the ability to repent.

                I never questioned the Christian faith as a child, although as I became a teenager I was introduced to viewpoints of God within the Christian faith that differed from those which I previously understood. I dated a girl who attended a Pentecostal church, where they believed that miracles and supernatural occurrences still took place today. They believed that the Spirit of God worked through people who were open to it, and it was an extremely foreign concept to me at the time.

                It was during this time that I had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life. My entire body was tingling, and I had an overwhelming sense of God’s love for me. Prior to that experience, I understood that God loved everyone—but this was more of a conceptual understanding than a personal one directed specifically at me. Feeling God’s Spirit and love filling me as an individual was one of the most transformative experiences ever.

                Years later after I had gotten married to my first wife, I attended an art school hoping to become an artist so that I could create Christian comic books. One of the classes I attended at the school was Critical Thinking. It was in that class that I learned about the notion of preconceived ideas and how they cause us to miss things that don’t conform to our worldview. This fascinated me, and I decided to test it out.

                My favorite books in the Bible were those written by the apostle Paul, specifically his letter to the Romans. It was my favorite because it was the most thorough description of Christian doctrine, from beginning to end. Although I had read Romans many times already, I decided to attempt to read it as if for the first time, with no preconceived ideas about what Paul was talking about.

                This was another milestone experience in my growing and expanding view of God. Not only did I realize that I had been glossing over about half of the book up until that point, but the way that it also changed my theological understanding of God was mind-blowing. For the first time ever, I was introduced to the concept of predestination, the doctrine that God Himself chooses who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.

                Romans no longer confirmed my previous understanding, but instead challenged it to the point of spiritual disorientation. I walked around stunned by the concept that my own salvation was not because I had been wise enough to make the right choice, but because God had chosen me. Instead of feeling elated by His selection of me, I felt like I had no freewill of my own—that I was no better than a robot that had been programmed to merely believe that it made its own choices. It took a while before I stopped being horrified at what I’d found.

                Overall I was definitely humbled by the way that I had missed so much information simply because it didn’t coincide with my pre-existing worldview. From that day forward, I vowed to keep an open mind as much as possible and pray for God to reveal His truth to me since I couldn’t trust myself to arrive at the truth with my limited mind and its tendency to make assumptions based on limited information.

                I shared this new information about predestination with my wife, who was also a Christian. I assumed that she would share my enthusiasm regarding truth revealed in the Bible, but I was wrong. The fact that I had changed my beliefs at all was disturbing to her, and it became a major point of contention in our marriage in the years to follow.

                I began to hold to the idea that Truth was absolute from God’s point of view, and that we as humans were subject to limited and/or incorrect perceptions of this Truth. I believed it was my calling to pursue Truth to the best of my ability, as well as pray for God to reveal it to me as He saw fit. My constant prayer was for God to show me all Truth, and that if there was any subject about which He did not want me to know the Truth, that He would cause me to lose interest in it. As far as I was concerned, I would rather have a short list of Truths than a long list of half-truths and/or lies.

                Over the years following that fateful Critical Thinking class, I was relentless in my pursuit of Truth. No doctrine was too sacred to be questioned, especially considering the fact that my eternal salvation was involved. The only thing which I did not question was the Bible itself, although I became very interested in how translations were put together, since I believed that only the original Hebrew and Greek were inspired (although during my studies I did come across the belief held by some that the King James Version was also inspired).

                Keeping an open mind was easy for me since it was the best option I had for remaining teachable to God’s Spirit. What became difficult for me was relating to my wife, who kept insisting that I stop changing my beliefs all the time and simply settle on something. I would tell her that I couldn’t do that, since settling on something meant that I had to stop searching for Truth and assume that I’d found it. But since there were still various Scriptures here and there that my ever-changing doctrine couldn’t explain, I had to keep searching. I was like a scientist searching for the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, unsatisfied with any worldview that didn’t take absolutely everything into account.

                In hindsight, I suppose it was inevitable that I began to question the Bible itself. This was extremely difficult on an emotional level for me to even consider, since it felt like I was questioning God. At first I held onto the basic idea that God had inspired certain writings, and I told myself that I wasn’t questioning God but rather man’s choices of which writings were inspired. This allowed me to feel like I was still being loyal to the God in which I had believed since childhood. But as soon as I made the first decision to reject a portion of the Bible, it was like a domino effect which quickly followed.

                First I rejected portions of the New Testament, followed shortly thereafter by every book in the New Testament. Since this was the portion of the Bible to be considered as the foundation for Christianity, I rejected Christ and the entire Christian doctrinal system. For a while I held onto the Old Testament (called the Tanakh), but eventually I let go of that as well. The last domino to fall was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

                For a time I kept this to myself and did not tell my wife. Our marital relationship was at an all-time low, and I was trying to keep it intact as best I could. But one day it occurred to me that the only reason I had even stayed married to her in the first place was because of my Christian belief that divorce was a sin. But since I was no longer a Christian, I no longer had a reason to stay married to her. I decided that I would divorce her, and that I would be doing both of us a huge favor. The fact that we did not have any children made the decision that much easier.

                The most difficult thing was calling my Christian parents and informing them that not only was I getting a divorce, but that I was no longer a Christian. I knew from their perspective that what I was basically telling them was that their one and only son had rejected the Savior and was now going to Hell. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, and at one point my father had to give the phone to my mother since he could no longer speak to me.

                Once the divorce was finalized and I was in the house by myself, it was not long before the emotional turmoil of these life changes wore off. Rather than being depressed, I found myself to be greatly relieved and completely excited and optimistic about my future. For the first time in my life, it felt like the world was my oyster and that all possibilities were available to me. No longer was I subject to a disapproving wife or especially a disapproving God who could read my mind and was aware of every sinful thought I had.

                I was starting with a clean slate, and I was in full control of what would happen to me next. Now that I no longer had a set of Scriptures upon which I based my beliefs, I could finally be honest with myself that any spiritual beliefs I had from this point on would only be those which resonated with me. I acknowledged the fact that I had been using the “pick and choose” method even while I was a Christian anyway, and had been merely comforting myself by referring to it instead as “discernment”.

                The first step was to acknowledge that I still believed in a Deity of some sort. I didn’t give atheism a chance, since I had always thought that the idea of the universe springing from nothing without some sort of divine intervention seemed utterly ridiculous. A material creation required a beginning, but God did not, so that was good enough for me.

                Now that I was no longer confined by the definition of God according to the Bible, I was essentially starting from scratch. I decided that I didn’t like the idea of a God with a personality, so I chose to believe in a God that was more like the Force from Star Wars. With that decision made, I moved on to other subjects that piqued my interest.

                One of the first topics I explored was reincarnation. I read books by Michael Newton and David Weiss, both of which were hypnotherapists who had unintentionally begun regressing their patients to the “life between lives”. Some hypnotherapists can regress their patients into their past lives, but the life between lives was the spirit world where you go after you die but before you’ve chosen your next life.

                I was fascinated by this, because there was a scientifically-minded approach being applied to spiritual concepts. On top of that, both Newton and Weiss discovered that although they were hearing descriptions of the afterlife from hundreds of patients who didn’t know each other, the accounts were strikingly similar. This was exactly the kind of information for which I was looking to help me construct a new template for how I defined reality.

                Reincarnation in general was one of the most pivotal belief systems in my quest for Truth. With Christianity you only had one life to live, and if you didn’t accept Christ as your Savior before you died, you would go to Hell. But with reincarnation, the whole dichotomy between Heaven and Hell is removed completely, and the focus of life becomes to learn lessons without the fear of eternal damnation. I thought this was an absolutely beautiful concept, and as far as I was concerned it reflected the kind of God I had always envisioned—a cosmic Teacher, not a Judge who punishes those who don’t agree with Him.

                Newton’s books were especially helpful, since he takes the accumulative results of recorded sessions with hundreds of patients, and then consolidates the information into categories. Many patients discuss similar concepts, but with different descriptions—depending upon their individual spiritual maturity level and understanding. One patient might describe something with a simple visual metaphor, while another might go into great depth to describe how it actually works.

                Patients described soul groups of various sizes, each of which is overseen by a spirit guide. Upon death the spirit returns to the afterlife, where there is first an adjustment period while the spirit remembers who it is (and that the life just lived is only one among many). The spirit guide takes a tour with that spirit to discuss the experiences from its recent life, as well as which lessons it successfully learned and which ones might need to be covered again in the next life.

                There was a story from one patient in particular which jumped out at me. One of the patients had been a Christian in a past life. Apparently he was a very judgmental person, and always told people which he labeled as sinners that they were going to Hell. When he died, his spirit guide decided that he would play a joke on him to teach him a lesson. Immediately upon leaving his body, the man encountered his spirit guide, who had taken the form of a demon. The spirit guide informed the man that instead of going to Heaven, he was going to Hell. The man freaked out at first, but then the spirit guide revealed his true self. Once the man calmed down and he began to remember how the afterlife actually worked, he realized how awful his judgmental attitude had been. It was a lesson he never forgot.

                But the part that stuck out to me regarding that story was that reincarnation was an all-inclusive system. No one is left out, because it doesn’t actually matter to which religion you adhere in any of your lifetimes. You could be a Christian in one lifetime, then a Hindu, then an atheist. With reincarnation, your religious beliefs do not affect the outcome of your spiritual state in the afterlife. The only thing that matters is whether or not you learned the lessons you wanted to learn when you chose which life you wanted to live. The focus was not on the afterlife, but on the kind of life you lived while alive in the flesh.

                Reincarnation doesn’t even demand that you believe in it for it to work. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite of most religious systems in that regard. The only rules are the ones which you set for yourself—the lessons you desire to learn and the experiences you want to have. The idea of Deity is present, at least in the understanding that everything is guided by perfect Love. No one is excluded from reincarnation, and everyone is understood to be connected to everyone else.

                I also began to see the unnecessary division between science and spirituality. The foundation of science is the assumption that there is enough order to things that measurable patterns will emerge which help you know more clearly how things operate. Spirituality is built upon the same foundation, since everything God does has order and purpose to it.

                The dividing line between science and spirituality occurs when man’s scientific understanding has reached its limits. At this point, spirituality attempts to fill in the gaps with information for which we do not yet know how to measure or quantify. As mankind’s understanding of the universe expands throughout the course of history, this dividing line is continuously moved forward. What was once called magic soon becomes science. Eventually man will come to the realization that there is no need for a dividing line, because everything is built upon structure and purpose—especially the afterlife. And since everything is connected, a dividing line is nothing but a flaw in perception anyway.

                The next major concept which I learned about was the integration of polarity. I had come across a website from a woman named Jelaila Starr, who explained that the driving force behind this particular universe is the Polarity Integration Game. The basic idea is to unite all polarities, whether you’re talking about Light and Dark, Good and Evil, or physical and spiritual. This concept resonated strongly with me, and so I added it to my ever-growing template of reality. Little did I know how central this concept would become over the next few years.

                Another major concept to which I was introduced was twin flames. I had already heard of soulmates, but once I began looking into reincarnation I discovered a different interpretation of soulmates. Basically, a soulmate is another spirit entity to which you are connected experientially, either because they are in your soul group or because they are in another soul group which has interacted with your soul group. In other words, you have more than one soulmate. A twin flame, on the other hand, follows the idea that two twin flames used to be one and the same soul, split into two.

                Having just finalized the divorce with my first wife, I was much more prepared to be proactive with my next relationship. My ex-wife was an amazing person and a great friend, but we were not meant to be spouses. In my earlier years, I was much more passive and had allowed myself to get married because it seemed like the next logical step in my life. The marriage had lasted fifteen years, and I was a bit older and wiser in regard to what I believed would make me happy. And with my laser-like focus on pursuing only those things which resonated with me, I believed that I had a much better chance at finding true love the second time around. I was not lonely or looking to fill a void in my life. Rather, I was excited at the prospect of meeting my twin flame and pursuing our destiny together.

                A few months later—now more than four years ago—I met my twin flame. And I can safely say that my life has been turned upside down and inside out. I have never been as challenged, nor my soul so torn apart (and then lovingly and completely healed) as it has since meeting her.  Although there are so many stories I could tell simply regarding events from our relationship over the last few years, I will limit it to just one, especially as it relates to the subject of my perception of God.

                Shortly after we met, she and I were eating breakfast at a local restaurant. The subject came up regarding the changes in my beliefs which I had experienced prior to meeting her. At the time I met her, she was studying Hebrew Roots, a religious movement which is Christian as far as its belief in Jesus (or Yeshua, which is his Hebrew name), but seeks to bridge Christianity to its Judaic roots and reveal the symbolism behind the New Testament. Just before leaving Christianity, I had briefly looked into Hebrew Roots and was definitely fascinated by it. Meeting my twin flame was confirmation to me that I would apparently be studying it much more.

                After describing to her that my view of God was now more like the Force, she asked me how I felt about that. She had this knowing look on her face (we had just met and we already knew each other through and through), and I could tell she thought her question was going to challenge me. At first I simply answered her question, that even though the idea of God as a Force was emotionally unsatisfactory, it was logically sufficient for me.

                She just kept staring at me with that knowing look, so I kept talking. I told her that above all, I missed the concept of a heavenly Father who knew me personally and loved me. I mentioned the amazing and life-changing experience I’d had as a teenager where I had felt God’s love for me as well as physical tingling throughout my entire body.

As I recounted this experience, all of a sudden and without warning I began to cry uncontrollably. I began pouring out my heart to her that I missed my Father and that this sci-fi Force in which I had chosen to believe was a poor and pathetic excuse for what I’d had when I was a Christian. The logical side of me was setting off warning bells as it tried to let me know that bringing back Father into my life was a personal betrayal of everything I’d accomplished in the last year. And yet my heart could not avoid the Truth: Father was real, and He loved me.

Although neither my twin flame nor I ever returned to the Christian-only belief system to which we had previously held before meeting each other, we discovered a Father who was not only more expansive than we had ever known, and that His Son had sacrificed more than just his life. The universe was quickly becoming much larger and expansive than ever, and we were constantly amazed by the way that all of Earth’s belief systems were parts of an amazing cosmic story.

Although my understanding and beliefs are still “undergoing construction” to this day, I would like to share my current understanding of at least some of the big picture aspects which are extremely important to me. My intention for this essay was to reveal a little bit about myself and my personal journey, in the hope that it might provide some context for understanding and appreciating how I view the world today. My next essay will delve more into the theological details of my beliefs, which I hope at the very least will provide the readers with new questions to ask on their own journeys.

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