This is for the people who go unnoticed and unappreciated. For the ones that put in 100% but never get recognized for their labor. This is the translucents the make the world beautiful. Your light is emanating. Without you nothing will be as prosperous as it is.
When I was in college I majored in writing and rhetoric and religion. What made double majoring in these subjects most interesting is the challenges I faced when ideas resonated but also conflicted with what I thought was my religious identification. Growing up in a conservative sect of Christianity was not always easy as I felt it amplifying my anxiety and deepening my depression. Confused at the contrast of religion doing the opposite of what I thought it would do allowed me the freedom (in college) to grapple with the reasons why religion was negatively effecting my mental health. While I had many victory moments where I connected and realized how some teachings negatively affected how I viewed myself, I ultimately realized that some “church rhetoric,” deep in my unconscious mind and negative self-talk, was the core reasons why my mental health was being beaten. First there are phrases like “I’m nothing, but God is everything,” or some other phrases such as “I am not worthy of this life that God has given me,” or “God keeps blessing me even when I don’t deserve it,” and such jargon as that that has flipped my self-image into chaos depicting me as someone who is not worthy or deserving of the things that I have or the life that I live. Other such talk of being a “sinner” and unable to escape the evil doings of myself, my “flesh,” and my mind also kept me in shame and misery as I always felt I was doing God an injustice by struggling with my mental health. Not only did I feel shame and guilt all the time, but I was always trying to be perfect in all I was doing. My perfectionism, a product of my anxiety now that I realize, made trying to become this “holy” perfect Christian girl all the more burdensome and tiring.
It only took but some readings in one of my psychology and religion courses to blow my mind and help me see the reality of such instances where religion can negatively effect ones self-perception in a way that back fires against their mental health. One reading was that of Fromm and his analysis of the humanistic religion vs. that of authoritarian religion.
**Side note: I include and validate women and women’s experiences in the statements below as the rhetoric is heavy on the masculine pronouns.**
“The essential element in authoritarian religion and in the authoritarian religious experience is the surrender to a power transcending man. The main virtue of this type of religion is obedience, its cardinal sin is disobedience. Just as the deity is conceived as omnipotent or omniscient, man is conceived as being powerless and insignificant. Only as he can gain grace or help from the deity by complete surrender can he feel strength. Submission to a powerful authority is one of the avenues by which man escapes from his feeling of aloneness and limitation. In the act of surrender he loses his independence and integrity as an individual but he gains the feeling of being protected by an awe-inspiring power of which, as it were, he becomes a part. (35)”
“Humanistic religion, on the contrary, is centered around man and his strength. Man must develop his power of reason in order to understand himself, his relationship to his fellow men and his position in the universe. He must recognize the truth, both with regard to his limitations and his potentialities. He must develop his powers of love for others as well as for himself and experience the solidarity of all living beings. He must have principles and norms to guide him in this aim. Religious experience in this kind of religion is the experience of oneness with the All, based on one’s relatedness to the world as it is grasped with thought and with love. Man’s aim in humanistic religion is to achieve the greatest strength, not the greatest powerlessness; virtue is self-realization, not obedience. Faith is certainty of conviction based on one’s experience of thought and feeling, not assent to propositions on credit of the proposer. The prevailing mood is that of joy, while the prevailing mood in authoritarian religion is that of sorrow and of guilt. (37)”
What I understood of Fromm’s comparison of both perceptions is the separation between oneself with the world, themselves, and God in the authoritarian religion and the union in humanistic religion. I became alienated from an identity, from something that revealed in me that I was a life that was worth living and shouldn’t be ashamed of myself. Me, as a person, as a woman, as a body, should be proud of my life and all that I have accomplished. My powerlessness and my guilt soon faded with my once limited, skewed, perception of life.
As my understanding became clear, I became less ashamed of who I was, but I also wanted to create a more wholesome version of myself as well. I started to ask questions such as who am I? and why am I? I drifted from the jargon that made me feel distant and unappreciative of my identity and my accomplishments, and all that I’ve done to get my mind free, and I began to create for myself a more liberating spirituality. God is not separated from the world or from the liberation of my self-acceptance, God is not a man in the sky dictating and limiting access to my confidence or to my belief that I have power and I’m worthy and proud to embrace my humaneness. Instead, I began to believe that everything is intertwined into a cosmic masterpiece that allows us, as people, to self-realize and love and find strength in ourselves. God is something in us already that gets amplified and blossoms as we do. That we have to love ourselves in order to love God, that we have to think we are worthy and powerful in order to reveal God in ourselves otherwise we are limiting our abilities and potentialities.
And as I continue to self-realize and change everyday, I’m learning that my anxiety and my depression is something that motivates me to create and build ideas. That, although my tireless mind is always in a shamble, I always find that I am free and able. My mental state is something of purpose and I don’t have to be ashamed because I do feel better. Without the anxiety and depression, I wouldn’t know what it felt like to be a prisoner of my own mind. Now that I have control over myself, with my experience I can build on love, compassion, and empathy. It took some time to get to this place, but now that I’m refined I can work and I can build on what makes me who I am. As I grow I can be happy because I did it for myself, I became free for me.
Read the second story I wrote on The Mighty called Why my Dog is my Weapon Against my Anxiety and Depression. I dedicated the story to my dog Baby who has helped me tremendously through the rough times I had with my anxiety and depression following graduation last year in 2016. She has lifted me up, along with my other dogs, and has given me a reason to smile, try my best to stay positive, and wake up every morning grateful.
Feel free to always visit me on The Mighty!
It’s been a difficult few weeks and I find myself getting more and more discouraged so this letter is to me from me with love, affection, power, and strength.
Hey girl! I see you struggling and I know you’re starting to doubt yourself again. I see you starting to not believe in how much you worked and how much you sacrificed to be in the place you’re in now. I see that you’re starting to feel like you aren’t good enough and that you wasted your time in the classroom. I see that you feel invisible and unattractive. I see that you feel trapped, unskilled, and untalented. I see that you feel ashamed that you struggle mentally and you often wonder how it would feel to be “normal” and unafraid of the strains of every day. I see that it takes so much work just to be happy that a new day has come because you feel like you should be successful with opportunity, strength, and power.
But I also see that you gained more strength I’ve ever seen you have before. That you try your hardest and prove to yourself every day that it’s possible to, despite the struggle, regain consciousness of the reality of hope and positivity. And even though things have been difficult, you still seem to always persevere, you seem to always push through. Every obstacle that has come in your way since you were young has never devoured you. When you were grappling with your mental health in high school and college, you always made it past the panic and the tears. You always showed up and showed out even when you didn’t want to. When you didn’t have motivation, when you didn’t want to go to the counseling center or psych services you did. When they took away your financial aid and you almost didn’t go to college things turned around. When you were called weak and told you were unable to reach the standards of your major in high school, you showed that you were, you were tossed from one choir to another, but you still showed that you were good enough. When you were on conditional in a program you wanted to be in so bad, you made that conditional a permanent. And all the times you were outcasted and alone, when you were by yourself you always sparkled with power, self-control, and self-respect. This is not even half of the things you struggle with, but its shows a lot about how much you’ve overcome.
You are beautiful, worthy, and strong. Only strength can endure all that you have gone through and still have the courage to want to tell other people that they can do anything despite the world telling them that they can’t because of their gender, beliefs, sexuality, or any other identity marker that makes them who they are. You are okay and you will continue to be okay. Just take deep breaths and raise your head. Your life is not for no reason. You have a reason to keep trying to do your best.
From the one that loves you the most,
So, even though it may seem blurry right now and you don’t want to be positive, try to be kind to yourself. Always be kind to yourself. Turn the negative self-talk phrases into encouraging ones. Make your perception light, even if your circumstance is dark and smudged. Even when you have all the reasons to be hopeless, let hope blossom instead.
Who you are combined with your identity, how you see yourself, and your point of view is whats going to reveal your purpose. Your purpose will not appear to you out of nowhere, it’s going to accumulate and build up based on your life experiences, your struggles, your flaws, your strengths, and the battles you have won. Your purpose is yours and only yours because only you have perceptions based on the life you live. You are the most important part of the equation and you are unique to your own purpose. Labor on yourself and keep moving even when you don’t want to. While you work on yourself, you are also working on your purpose. Your glory story is revealed in the process of self-realizing your purpose.
Keep laboring on your struggles and triumph. Keep trying even when you’re tired. Keep working even when your hands get callused. Keep standing even when you get pushed to the ground.
All of this is what your glory story will be. Your glory story makes you a hero. You save yourself everyday and while you save yourself, you save the lives of the on looker and the people you encounter all the time.
Write your glory story, labor on your purpose.