What would it be like to channel all the belief you could muster for a creator of the universe into yourself? What if you could stand in your power and believe in yourself with the same fervency the most hysterical evangelist believes in God? Our turnings to faith and spirituality often conceal an unconscious feeling of helplessness about a difficult, uncertain life. We look to God, a spiritual teacher, academia, or whatever representation of authority we resonate with to rescue us. This kind of faith is a band-aid solution, an externalization and projection of our unbelief in ourselves. It covers over a core identity crisis, a wound of unlove and not being seen that can only be treated by an open-heart surgery of one’s sense of self, the miraculous healing of self-realization.
The Western religious enterprise has frequently tried to treat our God-sized sense of smallness and insufficiency by appealing to a divine power and sense of wholeness outside of ourselves equal in proportion to the feeling of lack. This divine power is most definitely not human, it was presumed, it certainly could not be found within–for we believe ourselves to be the problem. Thus, God was envisioned as entirely separate from fallen, broken human nature–transcendent, other. What we are is not good enough, unworthy, damaged. And the Christian, Augustinian teaching of original sin boils down to just that sense that fundamentally, there is something wrong with me. I am the problem. Woe is me; God save a wretch!
The Bible often presents God as a fascist, autocratic slave lord hellbent on punishing his wretched people for being so bad. This image of God as a fascist mirrors the low sense of self-worth of the people who believed him to be. We welcome fascism when we cease believing in our goodness and power. Unworthy, powerless-feeling people mask their pain with heirs of superiority and strength and aggressively try to rid their unbearable shame through self- and other- harm. Authoritarian leaders and ideologies offer us a sense of power and give expression to their rage, shaming us and scapegoating supposedly morally inferior populations.
Fascism is trading your freedom for someone else’s power. We embrace fascism when we cannot find the power we need to change a situation. Fascism has many forms: an abusive relationship, a political dictator, or any ideology that calls you to put aside your critical thinking and intuition and follow the dictates of another authority for the promise of healing, belonging, and power. All fascisms are based on the relational dynamic of victim/narcissistic rescuer. Both victimhood and narcissism are based on a wounded sense of self, and both expressions of trauma seek to establish a sense of self by engaging each other in a toxic relationship.
To free ourselves from the fascism of divine disempowerment or a religious narcissistic God conception, we must become familiar with our inner victim. In the victim frame of mind, prayer, worship of God, and spiritual practice may be an exercise in disowning one’s personal power. Instead of turning inward, repairing our wounded self-relationship, and finding our creative source of power, we are drawn away from ourselves to seek deliverance because we feel incapable. We turn to an idol; a source of power we have fashioned in the image of our problem we call God. An idol is a dead, false image that takes the place of the real thing and blocks us from its living power. For many believers in God/Source/Universe, their idea of God may be (or may lapse into) an idol because it represents the disowning of their connection to themselves and to the divine beyond.
If you were taught to bow down to a God who is entirely other, then God was an idol, a stand-in for your soul. God took away the power to love that was you all along, the power to believe that you are the love that is enough to heal yourself and create heaven on earth. Salvation is realizing, believing, and becoming who you really are, not being transformed into the likeness of someone else or seeking his deliverance–even if that someone is said to be God.
God has the potential to be a self-empowering notion rather than a religious fascism. God conceptualized as both within and without, immanent and transcendent–God is you, me, and the creativity of the cosmos beyond our human selves that we are not separate from. What would it be like to dare to self-reflect your self-divinity? To confront yourself with the truth, I am worthy to create my wildest dreams. What pain, doubts, and insufficiencies does this reflection bring up? That is precisely the content of your healing work, the gateway to your abundance.
Healing from a sense of smallness begins with a dare to take seriously your God-sized dreams, to tune into the voice of your heart, imagination, and intuition. Wherever your insufficiency lies inside you, there also lives the power of your infinite spirit, the very same power of creation. When you are connected to yourself, you are also connected to all that is. Inadequacy is merely a protective covering developed in response to trauma, hiding away our passion and uniqueness (our true self) from the threat of further rejection or failure. Low self-esteem is based on no thing at all. It is an illusion of selfhood, for we are not our traumas and shortcomings. We are not defined by what we are not, what we have failed to be, how people have not seen us. Who we are is pure and powerful, untouchable by trauma, for it is eternal and beyond both trauma and healing–it is wholeness. I am not my trauma, though I need to take responsibility for healing my trauma to fully actualize myself. I am evolution, the dynamism of the universe, and I always live with the potentiality to transform my experience of life.
Becoming the God that I am requires listening to the pain of your trauma to get to the frightened and flawed but whole self behind it. And it requires intuitively connecting to the dreams of that self, allowing them the opportunity to speak for a moment with the what-ifs of the world and your personal failures in silent attention. Those dreams come from a higher power within–inspiration–the human spirit/Spirit, and that power unleashed from the grip of trauma becomes the vocation of the initiated shaman, the soul empowered to bring the change it has experienced.
What would it look like to internalize the God-image religion had taught us to see only as separate from ourselves? Being God means when I feel helpless, how can I answer my own prayers? When we pray, we cry for help. What would it mean to pray to yourself, or perhaps to yourself and to the God beyond that is also you? It means turning “God help me” to “I can take this feeling of helplessness as an opportunity to imagine a way to resource myself and get creative.” What do I want to create and what actions do I need to take to bring it about? Internalizing Or, God could mean praying to yourself and also connecting to whatever it is you believe to be beyond yourself–not just asking but also accessing through spiritual practice and action that brings transformative experience.
Believing in yourself as God means you can trust your own heart; there you will find the voice of God. It means your will is efficacious. Who I am is enough. Who I am is everything. There is no me in isolation. Who and what I am is fluid, the potential to defy and deify my present low-image of myself. No one can reject the flow of God that I am–grace, for that flow comes from a higher authority than human judgment. I am good enough right now in this moment, without needing to change myself. Without needing to do anything at all, just being me. Existence is its own form of love. That is good enough for this moment now. Self-acceptance right now is the first building block of an unshakeable foundation of rock-solid selfhood, for the power of who we are has nothing to do with anything we accomplish; that is merely an outflowing. Accepting yourself as God means transforming, Am I good enough? and, Am I acceptable? into simply I AM.
All it takes to know the transforming power of God is simply to get in touch with the love that always is inside yourself and to extend that love through your creative passion to humanity. God is not an unapproachable king, bully, or a patriarch like the God of much of the Bible and many religions. God is the loving spirit within humanity. (There is also the God Beyond But That is Also Me). You are the queen, you are the king of your divine-human castle. You are the lord of your own little universe, and your divine calling is to find the kingdom of God inside yourself, that sphere of creative passionate play that transforms trauma into triumph and hell into heaven.
Does this article resonate with you? I’m Andrew Jasko, Master of Divinity (M.Div.), M.A., Counseling Psychology in progress, and I offer coaching to help you discover your natural spiritual practice and creative enterprise. I also offer coaching for healing religious trauma and spiritual transition, consultation and education about religious trauma, podcast and video interviews, presentations at conferences, churches, and events. Send me an email at email@example.com. Subscribe to my blog https://lifeafterdogma.org/blog/ for new articles, talks, and announcements about retreats.
Bio: Andrew is a former Christian minister turned nondual theologian and religious trauma healer who teaches about the integration of psychology, spirituality, and sacred and secular traditions. He was born the son of a minister and became a preacher and missionary to India, after studying theology at Wheaton College and Princeton Seminary. As a Christian, Andrew’s relationship with God was his passion, but unhealthy religious teachings caused him an anxiety disorder, sexual repression, and spiritual disillusionment. After an agonizing crisis of faith, Andrew rejected religion and spirituality. Then, he had an unexpected spiritual awakening through psychedelics and mystical practices. Andrew writes about these topics and re-interpreting Scriptures through a mystical, nondual lens.