“One Size Fits All”
One Size Fits All ?
One Size Fits All?
by Penny McDaniel
That’s what the garment label read when I went to try it on. And I thought, how can one item fit all the different shapes and sizes of people? On some, this garment would hang loosely, engulfing their entire body; on others, it would leave parts exposed.
What a misleading message.
I placed the garment back on the rack.
When it comes to spirituality, there is no “one size fits all” approach. There are many paths of spirituality. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. One may start out on one particular path and remain on it throughout life; another may start on a path only to find it change over time.
Each path is as unique as the individual on it.
Like many people, I grew up with the “belief” that God was some ethereal white-bearded being who resided somewhere outside of me. I was afraid of God’s ability to judge and inflict punishment.
According to my Southern Baptist aunts, I was a sinner who needed saving, whatever that meant, and until I was saved, I wasn’t worthy enough to touch the bible, let alone read it. I could end up in some terrifying place called hell. Forever. That alone scared me enough to get down on my knees and pray a prayer I didn’t understand just so I wouldn’t go there. My aunts did their Christian duty.
But I had questions. Lots of questions. I was instructed to “just believe.” It was not proper to question one’s faith. “You don’t question God. You could go to hell,” I was told. The questions continued, only inwardly, until I got to Sunday School. But I was met with the same resistance.
Tired of the same standard answer, I finally said, “How do you know God will get mad if I ask questions?” Instead of being sent directly to hell, I was sent out into the hallway to think about what I had done. Rather than being overcome with a sense of dread, I felt a deep sense of peace. I “knew” this was God’s way of “talking” to me, telling me that it was okay to ask questions. I felt connected to God, like I had direct access.
After that, I let go of the harsh, judging God I was taught and embraced the personal, loving God whom I met in that Sunday School hallway. The ideas I had been taught just didn’t fit anymore.
I found myself on a non-traditional path, one in which questions became my guides. I started attending the church within. Finding my own path was profoundly important for it has brought me a much deeper faith than I would have felt if I had never questioned what I was being taught as a child.
Throughout the centuries and across faiths, those in authority have misused religion to control others for their own agendas. People have been told that their problems were the result of their own sinfulness, making it difficult for them to find the strength and courage to change their circumstances.
But then again, belief in a Higher Power has motivated many people to find the courage they needed to improve their lives.
Whatever the case, the purpose is not to blame, but to celebrate the various ways in which people can experience God. When we can accept that people experience God in profoundly different ways and when we can respect those ways, we let go of the idea of a God who is divisive, judgmental, and damning.
Expanding our ideas about God and the spiritual path means examining what we were taught about God as a child and evaluating what we believe today. It means questioning freely without any fear of recrimination. Reassessing our spiritual beliefs is what helps us to discern our particular paths.
The path we choose is the path that is unique to us. It’s not always going to be clear-cut. Some paths may remain the same; others may evolve over time. Whatever path we take, it is the path to which we are divinely led.
Penny McDaniel firmly believes that our lives are filled with “spiritunities” — spiritual opportunities that call us to growth, creativity, self-expression, and authenticity.
As a spiritual teacher, writer/blogger, author, and theologian (even though she doesn’t like titles…she finds that they are not all-encompassing), she draws from various wisdom traditions and spiritual practices to help others to discover their unique path to personal fulfillment. Penny has worked in the fields of secondary education, health and fitness, and public relations. She is also a Reiki practitioner in her spare time.
If you’d like to learn about Spiritual Growth and improve your live, you can find here at Penny Mcdaniel
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