When I was 11, without any adult influence, I began my search for spirituality. While the rest of my family slept in on Sunday mornings, I decided that I “should” get up early to watch religious programs on TV. I felt extremely guilty when I would always fall asleep during the programs. As I continued my search, I spent 15 years attending a very strict religion, majored in Theology in college, left the church riddled with guilt for leaving it, became anti-western religion, studied Buddhism, became interested in metaphysics, read countless books on anything related to spirituality, attended numerous seminars, wrote poetry full of angst, and asked many questions of the coaches I hired, or the people I sought out for answers.
Ironically, over this 27-year period of growing my exposure to the spirituality I found outside of myself, I was stunting the growth of my exposure to the inside of myself. I became a master liar, ruled by fear. For fear of being labeled a freak, I didn’t tell anyone at school that my church was why I didn’t play basketball on Friday nights. For fear of upsetting my parents, I didn’t tell them how angry I was about their divorce, or how I directed my anger at my stepparents and stuffed the leftovers into my new ulcer. For fear of being kicked out of the church, I spent the last four years in it silently tortured by guilt, shame, confusion and non-acceptance of my “sinful” feelings for a woman. For fear of losing love, it took 12 years to tell my friends and family the truth about my sexuality. Three years ago, when every aspect of my life had hit rock bottom, I realized I had been ironically searching for truth in spirituality, while shirking my truth. I did this to make sure everyone else around me was ok, thinking that by doing this, I’d be ok. However, I was not ok. I was a ghost in my own “LIE-f.”
“Lying is a part of our everyday lives”, according to Bella DePaulo, a researcher at the University of California and adult lying expert from the University of Santa Barbara. Her work shows that we are likely to lie several times a day, or in one out of every four conversations that lasts more than 10 minutes. “Most of our lies are the little white lies we tell others, to make ourselves look better, or to spare others’ feelings.”
Because our parents taught us things like, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” children learn to lie early on. According to Dr. Victoria Talwar, Assistant Professor at McGill University and expert on kids’ lying behaviors, “Bright kids begin lying at two-three years old as lying is related to intelligence. A child must be able to recognize the truth and the consequences of telling the truth in order to make the decision to lie. By age four, almost all children have begun to lie. In fact, a four-year-old lies once every two hours. A six-year-old lies once every 1½ hours. The truth is something they grow out of and lying, something they grow into.”
On occasion, I still feel fear when exposing my truth and as noted above, I am not alone. However, as a, “Course In Miracles” states, “God is not the author of fear.You are.” Ironically, fear is an “ill-LOSE-ion” we alone have chosen to create! But, we can choose love instead, which is its opposite. In Marianne Williamson’s 1992 book, “A Return To Love”, she states on page xxii, “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts…”
It is time to realize that the truth and therefore love, is something we must all re-learn how to grow into and lying and therefore fear, to grow out of. Love and truth is the spirituality we seek, and it is the spirituality I have finally found.