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Monday, November 11, 2013

Living Healed

Don't you see it? Don't you see your own growth? Many people, after leaving the Jehovah's Witness religion, see themselves as "broken." I don't. I see the thousands who left as ones having the courage to become their own person. It takes courage, integrity and core strength to leave the religion because elders teach that leaving is "your failure" — failure to measure up to their man-made standards in some way. "Your faith is somehow defective” insist the elders who hardly know you. But I see your courage and I see your leaving as your own personal growth step. You have outgrown the religion, like when you were young and had a pair of shoes that had grown too tight and were causing discomfort.

You are now using your own critical thinking. You see the inequities between men and women in the religious structure. Remember the scripture about keeping silent, ladies? You no longer have to keep your mouth shut when observing inequities created by religious patriarchs.

Perhaps you saw the inequities between parents and children, where children were forced to attend meetings. Parents threatened their children by saying, "Do this! You must because God says you have to be obedient to Mom and Dad!" Many children lost out on their childhood as a result of parents like those.

Perhaps you saw the inequities between elders/ministerial servants/rank-and-file brothers. There was a pecking order in the congregations. Rank-and-file brothers always had to be subservient to someone "over" them, like ministerial servants, who were constantly under the scrutiny of the elders, Circuit Servants* Overseers, District Servants Overseers, Branch Servants Overseers, and up the hierarchical ladder. Sisters were never allowed "privileges" which were what congregational responsibilities were called. Only brothers were allowed to have authority in congregations. Sisters were to learn in silence and be in submission — always.

To me, blindly following religious rules dictated by religious elders demonstrates a lack of free will. You see injustice of those rules and believe that you can no longer turn a blind eye or you would be living falsely. Following your true conscience takes strength, not cowardice. It is not your fault if a religious theology collides with your free will. It is your soul urging you to grow!

If you were disfellowshipped you may have noticed how the judicial committee became more concerned with "keeping the congregation clean" than caring about helping you work through your doubts. Nevertheless, you have survived the demonization and the shunning and are successfully rebuilding your life. You have discovered you are inherently equipped with all the tools you need to be well. People appear “out of the blue” to support your healthy self-directed decisions.

You recognize that you are free. So free, in fact, that you could choose bondage. You have the freedom to go back, but the question begs to be asked: is going back to a corrupt religion really your strong desire? "Pick up your cot and walk," is a scripture that immediately comes to mind, since you are no longer paralyzed by fear.

It takes courage to speak your truth. It also takes integrity. Some ex-members have written books, set up blogs and built websites as a way to speak their new truth. Many great videos have been recorded to share with the world. "Many will rove about and the truth will become abundant" is a scripture that takes on a whole new meaning!

It takes courage to speak about all the new things you are learning after leaving the organization. Things you would never have learned by staying, now that you think on your feet outside the religious box. Now you are self-directed and that feels positive and freeing!

You no longer live with the idea that one day you will do this or that. Maybe you may long to sky dive, hang glide, or whatever your passion. Now you follow your heart. You no longer live for some elusive future date to begin living your joy.

You have abandoned a religion that once kept you stuck. I cheer loudly for each of you!

I'll bet you can think of some other qualities that I missed that would show your growth upon leaving a patriarchal religion. By all means, validate your own growth! You are awesome people, living healed — and growing stronger every day!

The above post was inspired by a dear friend of mine, Gay, who did a personal Angel Card Reading on me after my book was published. Each time I listen to it, I gain new insights. I would share the audio clip here, if I knew how.

____________

* 1972 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, p. 3 the organizational switch was made from serving to being served.


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2014.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Abundance!

In Chapter three of my book I write about my childhood recollections around having money. I didn’t know what to do with money when I was five years old. Having money was an enormous responsibility.
Once, at a convention in Arborg, Manitoba, my grandma gave me a coin. My eyes shone, as I looked up at her with gratitude, then back to the gleaming coin in the palm of my hand.
“Thank you, Grandma!” I said in my quiet voice, as she turned back to talk to my mom.
I was scared to put it down, so I clung onto it tightly in my little fist. I had no pocket in my dress. I wondered what to do with my newly acquired money, as I walked around the convention hall by myself with this most unfamiliar gift.
I hung onto my coin and looked at it all through the morning program, while I listened to the booming voice talk about Armageddon and The Paradise. — Chapter 3, Phoenix of Faith
It wasn’t the last time I was challenged in that way when it came to possessing money. What was I supposed to do with abundance?
Abundance presented itself again recently. Yesterday, while walking to work I passed by a row of beautiful Scotch Pines. Even through my headset, I caught another sound breaking into the classical music. I recognized it as the chirping of hummingbirds. Not just one or two, but the entire pine grove was filled with the happy chirpings of these magical little birds. What was I to do with such a joyous presentation, except stop and enjoy their presence! So I did just that.
I pulled out my ear buds. I paused to watch the hummingbirds chirp and flit between, around and among the trees with such carefree pleasure as they interacted with one another. My heart swelled with love for these amazing winged creatures.
Ah, the sweetness of life. I now savor abundance when these ever-increasing windows of bliss appear in my life in the now. It was another miracle of my magical present life, so different from my childhood days.
I learned that abundance comes in many different forms and in this case all I had to do was allow it and enjoy it in its fullness!

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Copyright © 2013.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Religious Judgment and Comparison Generates Fear

One of my readers wrote a letter explaining a rather odd behavior in her family. While her side of the family is not JW, her husband's side was raised in the religion, but hubby was never active. She is very comfortable and relaxed with the immediate side of her own family and they freely express and interact with one another lovingly. On the other hand, when her hubby's family members sporadically come around, she senses a very different feeling. She describes it as a stiffness, an artificiality, a feeling that she must watch herself. Why is that?

I have a theory. Her own family members don't judge one another. They love each other freely and unreservedly. On the other hand, hubby's family members are "psychically split" into the believers, the non-believers and even a shunned family member. Fortunately the believers don't preach to the non-believers, yet there is a sense of being watched.

Watched for what? Watched for signs of repentance? Watched for a "softening" toward the JW message?

Perhaps.

Thinking back to my bible-thumping days, I heard many a talk about "winning unbelievers without a word." So even though the reader's in-laws don't speak openly about an agenda, sensitive souls are able to discern an ulterior motive — it's that uncomfortable feeling of being watched which presents itself whenever the in-laws are around. The believers judge the non-believers, the doubters and the apostate. The unbelievers feel they aren't measuring up to their believing relatives. The apostate, well, that's a whole other story. I know, I used to be a believer.

Actually, it goes even further than that. The believers are encouraged to compare and judge another believer! I heard a talk once in which the congregation was compared to a wheel. The wheel consisted of a hub, the spokes and the rim. The hub was head office and the spokes were the measuring rod of religious activity. If a member was close to the hub, they were considered very active and busily engrossed in their reading of Watchtower publications, involved in door-to-door preaching activity and attending/participating in five meetings per week — faithfully. Heaven forbid members would choose to live on the wheel rim. Why, those folks were at risk of being "lured away" from the safe confines of the religious order!

But the talk went even further by suggesting that members on the spokes "should" focus intently on moving ever-closer toward the hub. They were counseled to consider not even associating with another member further out on a spoke from them, because those ones may be "less spiritual" — so beware!

Such judgment and comparison generated much fear among members. The inner hub was encouraged to "report" on outer-hub members about any activity they considered "less spiritual." Fear was palpable, like in George Orwell's book 1984. It was truly a frightful existence. I am one who knows from experience.

Outsiders — people who never experienced that type of treatment could not comprehend how dreadful the spying might feel, as they likely have no such frame of reference. It may sound quite incredible to some.

I figure the reader who wrote about her experiences is sensitive to the fluctuations in feelings of unconditional love, caring and inclusion versus the energy of fear, judgment and comparison going on between her hubby's family members. It's not even a conscious sensation, but it is very real, none-the-less.

"Reading your book helped me to put all of those sensations into words, so as to validate my feelings," she told me, sighing deeply.

I believe her intuition is correct. She has every right to trust her feelings, since that's clearly her inner guidance at work. She is fortunate to come from a loving family because she knows how to identify the feeling of love. Furthermore, her sensitivity has enabled her to continue showing love toward the in-laws. She is in a unique situation of being able to love what some consider to be the "unlovable." What a wonderful privilege, because love is the only thing that is able offset judgment, comparison and fear. "Perfect love throws fear outside," says a scripture.

Comments like hers make me glad I wrote the book, since it seems to be creating awareness around a little-discussed dynamic. I found the ensuing dialogue very insightful! Thanks for the great feedback! Well done, dear reader!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Comments about Phoenix of Faith

My books are almost gone and I must now reorder the next print run. I'm excited after recently receiving several comments from my readers. Such as:

"READ YOUR BEAUTIFUL BOOK...in about 5 days! It was great! Thanks for sharing your story with the world....I feel honoured to have played a small role in your life-adventure...and privileged to read about it all, now. You have a great writing style, Esther...would love to see you give Hollywood a go at it...have it put into a script for the silver screen! The lovely people at JW may have a word or two to say about that though, but the world need to know the TRUTH of what happens behind the scenes! I had no idea how criminally invasive and twisted their teachings are...to suggest they are merely dangerous is much too polite! Its amazing the grip they hold on their members, and the terms brain-washed and indoctrinated both seem mild compared to what you really experienced. I could barely put it down at times. Makes me very thankful I was raised to think for myself, even as a teenager, and encouraged to explore various 'faiths' in search of what made 'sense' to me. The only 'advice' my dad proffered was to beware of any and all groups that harboured 'hidden agendas'. I left my copy for my daughter to read...as an ordained minister in Science of Mind, I felt it valuable she KNOW the truth of the JW organization...and knowing you 'personally' means a lot. So glad you are now happily involved with 'Stan' and your life has become balanced and fun and healthy...I pray with you that your kids will one day, 'wake up' and realize their MOM is a brave, brilliant, and beautiful soul! I salute your courage to 'tell it as it is'...well done, Esther! Love and Hugs, Beverley" ~ Room mate when I first moved to B.C. (Love you, Beverley!)

Someone familiar with the theology of my background read my introduction and wrote, "I resonated with what you said about if you asked your family / husband, they wouldn't have thought they were being abusive.  So true, their thinking gets all turned and twisted, they don't know which way is up."

I laughed about that comment, since my other blogsite is called exactly that: Hey! Which Way is Up?, written at an earlier time during my healing journey. How fitting!

"Amongst other things, your book is a thriller! So many terrifying scenes, I was sitting on the edge of my seat!!" ~ an ex-member.

"I started reading your book and it made me cry," confessed a man I know.

It made a man cry?

"Why?" I was fishing for his insights.

"You show how really vulnerable children are," he paused and answered thoughtfully. Then he shook his head and continued, "Some parents really shouldn't be parents."

My parents didn't necessarily "choose" parenthood. They didn't know about birth control or parenting. They did what their parents did and their parents' before them. And they didn't always make healthy choices.

But knowledge is abundant in our modern age. Good books abound, if we are discerning. Good and not-so-good therapists abound, too. One must "shop" for a good one — someone with whom they resonate. Someone trained in their specific area of dysfunction.

So I told my friend, "I wrote the book from the perspective of my earliest recollections so that readers can get a sense of what its like growing up in a dysfunctional family where 'God says' — virtually everything, no matter how crazy it sounds!" I drew quotes with my fingers around "God says," punctuating my point about throwing religion into an already warped situation.

Thank you again readers for expressing your comments about the book. These really help a self-published author such as myself to gain recognition and credibility!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.
Permission is granted to copy 
and re-distribute this transmission on the 
condition that it is distributed freely. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Healing Toxicity

I'm reminiscing about the love and care with which Stan* does everything around the house and yard. For example, when he spread the wood chips around the Juniper tree beside the house, he carefully lifted each branch and placed the wood chips gently around the base. Next, he evenly and generously distributed the chips outward — with love and devotion — until the plant was completely surrounded.

I could sense the love and care Stan had for our plants while I was removing the wood chips — only after we realized the Juniper was fading more with each passing day. Something was very wrong.

Too bad the wood chips were toxic.

"Let's surround the plant with river stones, instead," I suggested to Stan, after reading the label on the bag: "Inhibits growth." With the same love that Stan once surrounded the plant with wood chips, I was now removing them.

Duh.

Those chips were supposed to be for people who didn't want plants to grow in their yard. No kids or pets allowed near that stuff, either. I wondered how many other people made the same mistake we made by putting that horrid stuff around their plants, thinking it would keep the moisture in and contribute to the well-being of the plant.

Toxic beliefs are similar. My parents didn't know when they raised me that what they were teaching me was unhealthy to my well-being.

It took many years of therapy and self-examination before I concluded I needed to replace a whole lot of unhealthy beliefs with ones that would allow me to flourish, rather than wither.

Stan and I are happy to note that our Juniper is recovering nicely. I believe that healing from a toxic belief system is the same. It takes time, but it is possible.

* Not his real name.


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Introduction to Phoenix of Faith



While it is true I kept a journal for many years, I did not begin writing Phoenix of Faith until the day after I discovered my daughter was getting married and I was not invited. I was devastated. What kind of monster had I become that my daughter had to distance herself so completely from me, her own mother?

I believe a man at the beginning of his marriage does not willfully intend to treat his wife badly. Likewise, a man at the beginning of fatherhood does not set out to hurt his daughter. But spouses and parents frequently carry emotional baggage from their respective families of origin. If the father’s behavior is dysfunctional as a result of unhealed wounds of his psyche, his daughter may go on to follow her mother’s example. She may choose a husband resembling her father — a man to “fix.” Depending how well or poorly the young couple’s patterns interact determines how happy or miserable that marriage becomes.

Unhealed wounds of parents are often absorbed by the child — frequently introjected into that child’s self-concept. In this fashion the wounds are passed from generation to generation. Compounding this cycle are cultural and religious institutions which many times reinforce the wounds and impede healing.

Is it possible to transform such dysfunctions? In my own case, was I permanently molded by virtue of being born into a particular belief system? The teachings of the family religion were all I had ever known. Could I change my beliefs enough to change my desperate reality?

I look back now and wish I had left my marriage after three miserable years, when I still had a safe exit point, instead of letting myself be assimilated by a religion that openly enabled and even encouraged all the dysfunction of a marriage like mine to carry on. I know now, if I had left the marriage after three years with my children, I would have found other healthier tools to help me survive. Tools I did not know I had at that time — tools I now know I possess. I could have taught my children some healthier examples and they would still be in my life today.

If I were to ask the leaders of my religion if they believed they had abused me, they would have stated an unequivocal “no.” They believed they had my best interests at heart. My father too, would have become offended, had I questioned his parenting style. My ex-husband would have laughed and reached for another beer. These are just the pattern types. What lessons might I have learned had I been more aware of the religious and social forces influencing my life?

Once I started writing, I filled journal after journal. As I wrote, bit by bit, the cracks in the edifice opened and glimmers of light shone through. The circumstances of my life became less controlling as I examined my wounds, considered possibilities and gained perspective. But as I made new choices, separation from my old world — my possessions, my marriage, my siblings, my friends, my faith and my children — became inevitable.

However, I am not writing this book just to tell my “story.” I say that we can let go of the story — and that the way we were raised is not necessarily who we truly are. We can heal the wounds and release the past, because those memories are just the “story.” The wounds no longer serve a useful purpose in life. It is safe to let go of the wounds while on the life journey.

I asked myself some obvious questions such as: Who is directing my life? Is it my parents? Is it an addiction? Is it a religion and it’s elders? Is it a demon? Is it the production of my parents? — Or is it my soul?

Thus it is that a half a lifetime is obliterated and reduced to ashes. But these are the only conditions under which the phoenix can rise.

Meet the Author

 photo Esther-web.gif

Comments about Phoenix of Faith.

Buy Phoenix of Faith.


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Amazing Inner Being

Appearances can be deceptive. For example, bad governments get re-elected, politicians begrudge pension payouts to constituents who have paid into the fund for fifty years, yet these same governments pay immigrants who never contributed at all. Employers spend their employees' pensions and grumble about paying their loyal employees a living wage. Sounds like a dismal existence, which from time to time causes me no small degree of consternation. I struggle to find better-feeling thoughts to buoy me past those frights. The above is not at all what I wish to create for my future. Sounds too much like the Armageddon the elders predicted for me since leaving the family religion.

At the end of the work day, the battery in my phone measured ten percent and was prompting me to plug it in. I sooo rely on my music to bring me into my heart and I hoped that I could get home without running out of power. Desiring the best, I plugged in, and away I went.

I managed to get to the bus stop and the music was still playing. Yes!

By the time the bus arrived at the first leg of my trip, the adagio in my headset was thrilling my heart. I breathed a sigh of relief!

Before I realized, I disembarked at my transfer point and violins in concert with the piano swelled my heart into a crescendo!

I recalled a recent dream about a girl who passionately loved listening to music. I knew the girl in the dream was about me, so I was waiting on my inner being to teach me more about the dream's significance during my morning meditations.

I began to realize a small miracle was playing out, which had to do with my love of music. My phone power usually lasts two days and it was now the end of day three.

Then, I remembered the four-leaf clover I found at the bus stop this morning. Oh, what a lucky day I was having!

I arrived at my corner bus stop and the music was still playing as I disembarked from the bus.

I advanced in step with the music all the way to the back gate of my house and only then did my phone beep at me again to charge my battery. Indeed.

I shut off my music and soared inside my home. I made it all the way! Listening to my glorious music!

Certainly, the object lesson is to trust that I always have whatever power I need to get my tasks done. I am always looked after by my higher self. No need to ever feel lack or limitation. I am fully supported and deeply loved by my inner being, for which I am truly thankful.

No need to look at external events and feel afraid. Bad governments will come and go but I will not need to concern myself with their antics. My inner being is empowered to provide well for all of my requirements and desires.

Thank you Inner Being for this awesome object lesson!


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Good Government


I have some ideas of what I would like to see happening in my community with respect to government. I love how one of the "green" parties — the "greenest" one I can think of — is running in the upcoming provincial election. Perhaps not at all sure they will win, but running with integrity, because they believe in change — massive change — that they know is needed to reclaim democracy from the hands of corporately-owned governments.

I appreciate their love of the environment, never wavering, always committed to preserving our pristine community, considering we are each wise stewards of the earth. I love that they are aware that the earth sustains all life forms and that whatever we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.

I love that they know every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. I love that they desire public participation at every level by directly including citizens in decision-making processes.

I love it that they know that violence is self-defeating, war must end and crime must be rooted out at its cause. I love that they know punishing crime will not solve or end crime, as punishment does not heal a wrong.

I love that they know that instead of people being subservient to the economy, the economy, when run with love and integrity, naturally provides for human needs within the natural limits of the earth and that local self-reliance to the greatest practical extent is the best way to achieve this goal.

I love that they know that the ethics of cooperation and understanding easily replace the values of domination and control.

I love that they know that all humans celebrate the biological diversity of the earth and the cultural, sexual, and spiritual diversity of the human race.

I love it that they realize power must be returned to local communities in order to be reasonably managed with integrity.

I love it that they know global sustainability and international justice can only be achieved when responsibility is shared at all levels of society.

I may be called an idealist by some, nevertheless, my ideas of what I would like to see for our future are valid. More than that, some cultures have lived successfully for thousands of years aligned with the planet, until they were introduced to so-called modern-day "progress."

I'm interested in knowing what kind of a future would you like for your community?


Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2013.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Love of Nature

I love being out in nature when it calls to me — and I connect to my heart. Just the other day I was out walking, during a lull in the buckets of rain we’ve been having, when I became aware of a chickadee hopping from branch to branch, directly beside me, along the sidewalk. She was no more than six feet away, keeping pace with me. I was delighted!

“I see you!” I gleefully acknowledged. “What do you want to show me today?”

It continued to hop alongside me, chirping excitedly as it bobbed along. I followed like an innocent little child, full of wonder.

Suddenly, it flitted across the street, up and over the trees. I quickly crossed the street and noticed a park with a stream on the left. I meandered down to the water, looking for signs of the chickadee, but it wasn’t down at the stream’s edge.

“Chickadee went over the trees. I’m not supposed to stop here,” I concluded. So I climbed out of the streambed and followed the sidewalk a bit more, in the general direction of the chickadee. I ambled along for several blocks until I arrived at another park. Approaching a footbridge, I crossed the stream to follow the water upstream.

Then I realized it was leading me toward another street — man-made — and I wanted to continue exploring nature. So, I made an about-face, downstream. I loved watching the water roll over the glistening stones. As I meandered along — the stream rushing by after the rain we’ve been experiencing — I became aware again of several familiar chickadee chirping sounds. I glanced up momentarily to locate their black caps in the trees and then my eyes were diverted back to the stream. I had my rubber boots on so I cautiously strolled into the gurgling water, since some interesting stones by then caught my attention.

In the stream, I paused and became aware of a sweet feminine voice behind me, excited and bubbly. I turned around to discover the voice was coming from the bubbling brook. I listened longer, fascinated at the softness, yet exuberance of the beautiful voice, unlike any I had ever heard all the years of my life. It was positively magical!

Ahhh…such pleasure is not to be missed! And all because I listened to the call of a chickadee!

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Copyright © 2013.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Affirmations


I knew of a therapist once who told all his clients, "Affirmations don't work, so don't do that!"

Admittedly, some of my past affirmations didn't always work. They sounded like too much of a stretch from where I presently was to where I wanted to be. I have since learned that affirmations must be believable. For example, for someone struggling to pay their bills, to affirm, "All the abundance of the Universe is now mine" sounds like pure fiction. But, could not a person realistically come to believe in their ability to be debt-free if they could reason in a little more "general" kind of way? Perhaps.

New doors of opportunity open for me. After all, they have in the past. I paid off all my bills in the past and I know that I can do it again. I have seen it with my own eyes and it is exciting to behold. I know I now have the means within me to pay for my student loan!

In other words, I know that whatever I set my intention towards I can successfully accomplish. So, I had to convince myself, based on past history, that my goal of paying my student loan is do-able. So, then I could more generally affirm, "I have the means within me and all is well with my finances!"

The student loan is not in vain. New doors certainly open in most unexpected ways! Happily, I was able to successfully complete my Certificate Program in Multimedia and Web Design.

Energetically, shifts do occur once I affirm my goals. Shifts occur after I set my intentions, establish priorities and gain clarity of how I see my future. Quite simply, I affirm how I would like my world to appear. After all, I am the Creator of my own reality! Anyone who gets a personal email from will note my signature line quoting Peter Drucker's famous words, which have personal application for me:

"The Best Way To Predict The Future
is to Create It!" ~~Peter Drucker

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Copyright © 2013.