“All of our heroes, at some point, broke away from the norm, the crowd, the established, to become pioneers, to find their own spiritual property, to build their own spiritual homes, to become caretakers of their own lives. Sovereign.”
~The Liberation of Sophia, David Hayward
This is the third installment in a three-part series. If you not yet read Parts I & II, I encourage you to do so first. In this series, I want to speak to my brothers & sisters who have journeyed out of a religious structure and lived to tell. Leaving the church solidified what already felt to me like a lost identity, contributing powerfully to my depression & desire to end my life. To some this may as well be written in a foreign language, but to others it will feel like I’m telling the story of your very own diary. It is for you that I write.
As the child of a missionary pastor, I was always under the microscope and quite clear on what was expected of me: Obey. Believe. Do not question. All of my actions and thoughts were going in a big book that would tally how close or far I sat from the feet of God when I inevitably made it to the pearly gates someday.
Going public with my story of religious deconstruction is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I held off even sharing the truth with my family for a long time after I decided to leave Christianity. I knew then and I know now that I am disappointing a lot of people with these confessions. But as I lived in my secret, I was still caged.
After leaving the church, I slowly realized that I could either incorporate some vague, convoluted cocktail of Jesus-laced verbiage into my life to keep me out of the line of questioning or I could live authentically. A bit lonely perhaps, but I longed for synchronicity with my truth.
Spiritual sovereignty is living according to what rings true for your soul. It means coming out of the shadow of ambiguity that appeases everyone but you and when we take the step to clearly identify and acknowledge our spiritual reality we don’t have to have all of the answers.
For a long time I let my father believe that I had stopped going to church due to being wounded by certain people. When I finally had an honest conversation with him (not all that long ago) and admitted that I actually just did not believe in the theology, he peppered me with questions, looking to poke holes in my beliefs. I had to tell him that I did not have answers for all of his or life’s questions. What I did know is that there is a powerful force of Love that I am intimately connected with. This was the one thing that was absolutely true for me in the depth of my soul.
My awakening to my sovereignty unfolded a dozen or so years after I stopped church. I was sitting in the rubble of yet another crumbled relationship, sinking deep into another cycle of depressive darkness. I randomly picked up a book by Gabrielle Bernstein, The Universe Has Your Back. She talks a lot about prayer in this book. As in just-talk-to-God-in-your-head kind of prayer, something I had never heard outside of religious contexts. As she talked about her connection to the Divine, of turning to prayer in moments of overwhelm, frustration, grief, decision, I felt a nagging sense of the familiar. I understood exactly what she was talking about. I knew that presence. Intimately. It had just been a really long time since I had communed. The relationship she described was a lot like what I remembered from my relationship with God back in my church days, minus the icky unworthy feelings and all the judgement. She did not push an agenda. There was no doctrine to buy into. What she spoke of was simple, easy, pure. As if there were no prerequisites for coming to God. As if even I could dare to ask for help.
My first prayer went something like this:
Okay, so….. maybe there is more to this than I realized. Maybe you have been there all along and I’m the one running because I thought you only dealt with Bible believers. So, if you really aren’t totally done with me, maybe we could try this again? God, I’m so fucking sad… I’m so fucking lost… I’m so fucking broken…
It is our privilege to listen to our souls and to align our lives with that which brings joy, healing, peace, contentment.
Neil Kramer, a (rather controversial) spiritual thinker writes, “Spiritual sovereignty teaches us that force and power are two very different things. Anyone can exert force, but not everyone is endowed with power. To wield real power, we must be in harmony with our higher purpose, with universal truth. This is the truth that we can feel in our hearts, minds and spirit, and is a compass for conscious growth… Within this paradigm, to recognize oneself as a sovereign being is to acknowledge one’s own total spiritual autonomy and unconditional entitlement to self-determination. It is a primary avowal of oneself as a free and natural human being – not a serf, a subject, a corporate entity, or even a citizen.”
And that’s it. Spiritual sovereignty is that quiet inward look, free of any other voices. That deep delve into your soul, where no one else can see. Connecting to what is explicitly, undeniably your truth, and being willing to let the rest go. It is honoring your truest nature. It is taking the shoulds, the programming, the doubts and even the shame and setting them all aside. It’s about a commitment to never sacrifice your truth in order to make someone else happy, maintain an image or out of fear.
Something miraculous started happening for me. As I started opening up to the possibility that God actually wanted to commune with me, I began to experience a quiet joy, an underlying excitement, a sense of release that I had never known. Like the tightest peony bud, slowly, gently, one etherial petal at a time, my heart began to open. And as I leaned in to this opening, things started coming up that needed some deep healing. Lots of things. I wanted this healing, more than anything after so many years of anxiety, depression, toxic relationships, cutting, self-medicating. I had an inkling that there was hope for me here but I didn’t know what to do next.
So, I took Gabby’s advice and I prayed. I asked for help.
We live in an incredible time. The face of the earth is covered with people committed to sharing light and healing. My prayer was answered in a divinely orchestrated introduction to Leila Laura, a beautiful soul who has deep connection to Spirit. Leila’s incredible heart, intuition and gift for facilitating healing and transformation was exactly were I needed for the deep-dive that my heart was opening up to.
Leila picked up on my anxiety in our first phone call, my hands literally shook. Over the course of several months, with her loving support and always uncanny ability to pinpoint what I needed to address to let the healing in, I began to release the firm grip I held on my own darkness. On my pain. On my secrets. On my shadows. It was a beautiful but difficult period. And then, suddenly, as if someone had thrown open a door to a house that had been shuttered up, the sun flooded in and there was life, my heart was becoming a home. I was blossoming.
Leila was one of many answered prayers. Working with her has given me the insight and strength to recreate my whole life in a way that is aligned with my truth. I believe that many of you have a desire to open up to healing. Often, the first step is to open up to others. Use your intuition, listen to your gut, but sometimes, just as with any healing, we need to call in the experts. Even gold medalist olympians have coaches. Doing the work is one of the bravest and best investments you can make in yourself.
Call it the Law of Attraction, call it God, call it an experiment — every step of my growth has been a response to an ask. I asked for peace. I asked for direction. I asked for healing. I asked for happiness. I asked for love. Fast forward eighteen months, I am my healthiest ever– mentally, emotionally and physically. I am living a life that is aligned with my core truth and soul purpose. My healing has been so deep and so transformative that I am now telling my story in a very public way, offering this healing to others, because THAT is the power of the Divine.
It is our privilege to listen to our souls and to align our lives with that which brings joy, healing, peace, contentment. Just as we are unique as individuals, we are also unique in our spiritual journeys. Spirit uses religion and many other avenues to connect with us, just as God connected to me many times while I was in church or youth group. But God is everywhere — within you and within all. We all have access to deep connection.
For the healing of all,
Leila Laura works virtually with people all over the world and is currently accepting new clients. Contact info and more on Leila HERE.
Special thanks to David Hayward who has given me permission to share some of his work throughout this series. His writing and drawings in his beautiful illustrated book “The Liberation of Sophia” have been a great source of comfort to me, reminding me that I’m not alone. He also gave me the gift of the terminology of “deconstruction.” Maybe it’s because I am a lover of words, but having verbiage around something that has been so difficult to explain is incredibly empowering. Follow him on Instagram @nakedpastor. His book “The Liberation of Sophia” can be purchased on Amazon and make sure to check out his Etsy store www.etsy.com/shop/nakedpastor.