Ironically, at 18 years old, I left the church due to hypocrisy and feeling disappointed with the teachings. Here I am at 58, having been accused of lies by Christian strangers and believed by the one I loved, which caused me to turn to God and read the Bible once more. In my 40-year absence, I developed an eclectic view on faith based on my study of world religions and participating at the sacred temples or circles of various faiths. I am not “coming back,” merely feeling distraught and finding comfort in the words of God and the faith of my ancestors.
In psychology, I use transpersonal therapy in my work with clients. This means that I weave spirituality in the room. Whatever or wherever they are at, we discuss this whether it is couples counseling, grief work or an individual looking back on their trauma. The beliefs of the client are sacred and should be honored when working with people and their life circumstances. It reminds them to utilize the principles of their faith as they go on this inner journey.
Seven weeks ago, my life turned on a dime, as they say, when accusations were made toward me that simply were not true. I collapsed emotionally and fell to the ground. The pain of being told I had done something wrong, that I had not, was more than I could bare. I have made a life of having a high degree of integrity and making this a virtue that I have upheld as sacrosanct. While I knew it were not true, having someone I loved and adored suddenly believe another, it was as if they got into bed with them psychologically and never got out.
Through my turmoil, I began to search for something to appease the pain of my soul, to help guide me as I began to walk through the tunnel in search of light. As I stumbled, I came upon a prayer to God. I went to Barnes and Noble (online) in search of a Bible and found “The Woman’s Study Bible,” which appealed to me. I couldn’t wait for it to get here as I felt excited to partake in old knowledge once more. As it was meant for women, I was curious what I would find different on these pages.
As soon as it arrived, I picked it up and poured through the leaves, and like any new book, took in the scent of the hardback cover. There are colors in this richly designed manuscript and added abstracts within, where women have explained passages in the Bible. Of course, the need to be careful as I was reminded of how thin those pages really are.
My first task was to ask God a question and use bibliomancy to find an answer. I asked God “What words of wisdom do you have for me?” How fitting and thrilling to land on page 493 and see the words “Solomon asks for Wisdom.” (I Kings 3:1-15). It is about Solomon having a dream and God asks him what he wants. He asks for wisdom to lead his people as a King and because he asks so humbly, God grants him a lot more.
Then I began looking for other passages to read and found Proverbs to be the first to pique my interest. There is an abstract (in this version) on homemaking called “An Expression of Creativity and Love.” These abstracts you will find throughout this Bible, on various topics, in today’s words and they provide you with the passages where you will find where this is written. Due to these current circumstances, I have been focused on “Healthy Relationships,” as I grew tired of reading about toxicity with my practice. Toxic relationship knowledge was not helping me to heal, it was causing more trauma to my mental health. As a therapist, when we make a mistake, it is very humiliating to realize this were so. As an older woman, with the clock ticking and the youthful gaze waning, a need to finally make the right decision looms desperately close by.
The tenets of a healthy relationship, in my eyes, are to be mindful of this and to hold it dear as a value. It is important to speak this as a boundary, up front and to not go forward unless it is also held by the other. This means that both parties believe in mutual trust, respect, love, loyalty and faithfulness. The passage in the Women’s Study Bible on an Expression of Creativity and Love, (page 932) spoke of King Solomon identifying three great foundations of a home.
Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge
It went onto say that a home is a place of learning God’s wisdom and practicing this together in their lives. “Where loving relationships are built on mutual communication and understanding…” As I read this abstract, I was appeased in knowing that I had come to the right place. Realizing that this book was where I needed to be right now.
Right below this abstract was Proverbs “Saying 29” or 24:19-20. Here the Bible says Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked, for the evildoer has no future hope and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. Suddenly I was being led to more and more places where the Bible says very similar things, as God tried to comfort me in my state of shock from what had happened to me. There is another saying in Psalm 119:81-88 (Kaph), which I was recently led to, and I will shorten this some, How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors? The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law. At the end, In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth. Here I was thinking of karma or “What comes around goes around.” I was thinking that at some point, my accusers will make a mistake and the truth will come to light.
Of course, this is my ego seeking revenge on some level from above, to comfort my pain but this is not what spiritual cleansing and letting go are all about. Nonetheless, we ask anyway to calm our sorrows. There is a quote in this version of the Bible underneath which reminds me:
“Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. The gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase.” St. Rose of Lima
There is another abstract in this study Bible on page 935 which speaks of Gossip or “Controlling Your Tongue.” It speaks on the topic of rumors being spread by people who do not feel responsible for what they have to say. It also speaks of Paul teaching about a holy lifestyle and that spiritually mature women are the teachers of this to the young. It goes on to state a warning to women who slander others. My stepfather once told me in the church basement that I should not become a gossip like the “old hens” in our church. This was a principle of his that I held dear and though I did make a mistake on some occasions as a young woman, I tried hard to work on this in my journey with integrity. As a rule now, I never gossip.
We all make mistakes in life and I have tried to always go back and take responsibility for my actions. I teach this from my training with the Gottman Institute in my work with couples, that to return to the argument and repair the damage by holding yourself accountable for your actions can heal the relationship. It is hard though when you are doing this and the other refuses to respond in kind. However, having personal integrity in a relationship, even when it is over, is more important to me than whether they acknowledge my attempt. This is because if I/you walk away feeling I/you have atoned in some way I/you can feel better for my/yourself going forward. I am often chastised by my friends or family for “having the last word,” but to me this is important to my well-being.
As a therapist, I have been tested, like an unwilling supplicant, with various lessons along my way in life. I have always felt that the “universe” or God, is having fun with me to make sure I become an experienced and learned therapist who can draw from intuition and wisdom of having “been there before.” It certainly does help in the moment (in the therapy room), though the assignments along the way are never fun.
In our relationship to self and others, having faith will create a sense of strength within. A coping skill to get through a crisis. I have always admired women of piety, such as St. Bernadette and Jean d’Arc, Sister Theresa or even Sara Worthington, a wonderful lady from Ohio. I found the Virgin de Guadalupe (an image) while living in California and have burnt Mexican candles, with her likeness for years. In Hungary there is St. Elizabeth, who’s shrine is on an island in the middle of the Danube that people flock to, to pay tribute to. I have been a solitary practitioner for years though never quite as dedicated as I have become now. As an older woman, it is more a test of time and humbling myself for not being wiser in relationships by now. It is easier to be the teacher than to practice the lesson when you heart is full, and your eyes are blinded.
My journey in life has been a quest for knowledge. Two more lessons from Proverbs “Saying 10” 23:9, Do not speak to fools for they will scorn your prudent words. My spiritual teacher and departed friend Lucie would say “Don’t waste your energy.” If a person is not listening, you should let it go and walk away. It is hard to do this, I confess, being a stubborn woman and sometimes I say things and wish I hadn’t. This is my ego challenge. And, “Saying 12” or Proverbs 23:12 is Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Being born on the 11th day of August, in numerology are the digits of the student. My heart is always open to new knowledge and I thrive in the classroom or the seminar. I am a perpetual student! Yet, here I am undertaking the task of reading the Bible – where I won’t get “CEU’s” for my license or a degree or even a certificate. I will, however, heal from this experience and survive yet one more lesson. I also gain a protector who has never left my side, betrayed me, lied to me, or ridiculed me in anyway. He seems to appreciate the lessons I have learned to become the person I am today. This means I have his respect.
I leave with one more of my favorite passages that gives thanks to him:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.