I don’t know about each one of you personally, but I’m sure many of us grew up and lived in a religious context that was defined by ought and must and should.
So many rules! Expectations! Goals! Dangers! Warnings!
They weren’t always explicit though. They were implicit in everything. It was in the air we breathed.
Let me tell you the most powerful control that was used over my life:
It was the implicit use, by leaders, of “Please don’t disappoint me!”
I am a person who loves to please. I don’t like disappointing people and letting them down. I am an achiever. I like those I serve to be happy with me. I want to make them proud.
So most of my spiritual life was spent ensuring that I did just that.
Of course, what they said out loud was, “Don’t disappoint God!” But for me it always trickled down to the fact that I could not disappoint God’s emissaries. They represented God. To disappoint them was to disappoint God.
The consequences of this are dire.
When I did disappoint those I was trying to please, they would first discipline me, then disavow me, then distance me.
Yes, my mind would try to make the connection to God… that God was disciplining me, disavowing me, and distancing me.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point I realized this was all a game, a hoax, and wasn’t true. I realized it was all an attempt to keep something going. The expectations were a tool to keep the machine running smoothly.
Once I realized that not only are there other machines, but that the machine isn’t even necessary, it set me free from the tools that are used to service it.
The freedom is lovely.