Judgment Day

We’ve all heard the story before.  When you die, you’ll go up to the pearly gates and God (or somebody) will discuss your life with you.  You’ll look at the good deeds and bad as well as the various religious decisions you made.  At the end you’ll be given your sentence: Heaven or Hell.  OK, so I don’t know if this is how it really goes.  I suppose it’s in The Bible somewhere but I’ll admit to never actually reading about it, that I can remember.  I’m sure there is some variation of this story in each religion.  I mean without Judgment Day how in the world will we control the masses?  Of course I also think it has to be more than just an issue of control.  If so many people and organizations believe some version of it, then some version of it is probably true.

Today, I’m going to share with you my version.  Over the years I’ve read a lot of spiritual and woo-woo books that have helped me formulate this idea.  I do believe there is a Judgment Day, but the person doing the judging is us or rather the divine part of us.  I believe that before entering our bodies and lives we create a contract.  We have various challenges we must work through and qualities we must work with.  I think we make pacts with other souls to help us meet our goals.  If there is someone in your life who presses your buttons, you better believe it’s in their contract to do that.

With that being said I believe that when we die our souls leave our body and ascend to the other side (Heaven if you’d like).  Once there we are greeted by a soulmate-spirit guide, angel, or deceased loved one-who leads us to our life review.  During this life review we see and experience everything we did in our human life at a whole other level.  (Does the phrase “my life flashed before my eyes” ring a bell?)   We feel the pain we caused others as well as the joy.  We understand at a deep level what affect our decisions had on the world around us.

When the review is over we evaluate ourselves and how successful we were at achieving the goals set forth in our contract.  In some cases we may have reached the level intended and can ascend to the next Heavenly stage.  In other cases we see that we still have much to learn and after some rest we get started on planning another life on Earth-which some might consider Hell.

What I believe is that our souls are of God.  That is the image and likeness within us.  When we emerge into life it is God’s wish to experience the realm of humanity.  The devil we encounter in this human world is that of free will or ego.  It is the gift we are given by God to learn,  make choices, and live.  We cannot truly experience anything unless we have felt it’s polar opposite.  So we are both God (soul) and the Devil (ego, free will).

At the end of our life we will be judged, but not by any man in the sky.  We will experience and judge our own experiences, based on what God intended for us to give and take from this life.  The only Hell we can possibly experience is that of leaving Heaven and our limitless form to return to a body on Earth.

So, that’s my take on Judgment Day.  If it feels good to you take it as your own, if not please leave it behind and find what feels like truth to you.  We are all on our own paths and must search within ourselves for the answers to these questions.  This is just an answer that makes sense to me.

 

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Why My Daughter May Fear Jesus

My Unity church is a small one.  We don’t have a big children’s program so for that reason my youngest daughter, Callee, is almost five but still a “nursery kid.”  Her age group doesn’t yet get spiritual instruction.  Up until September she hadn’t really been introduced to Jesus.  (In our house we pray to God or Spirit not to Jesus.)

In September we (Callee and I) went to NC for my grandmother’s funeral.  In the days leading up to her death, Mema had a vision of Jesus.  It was a given that when she finally passed everyone talked about that vision.  Jesus had come to take her home.

Before the funeral, the family went to privately view Mema’s body.  I really didn’t want to take Callee into the room.  I didn’t think she would understand.  I thought it might scare her or scar her.  In the end, the confusion scared her more.  There was a mysterious room where people walked into and then started weeping.  My brother-in-law did his best to distract her, but ultimately I decided she needed to see what was going on.

When we showed Callee Mema’s body it was explained to her that now Mema was with Jesus in Heaven.  I did not realize then how seriously she was filing that statement away.

It has been two months since the funeral and pretty often Callee still mentions, out of the blue, that Mema is with Jesus.  The other day though she said something that made me realize that this particular way of explaining death to her may have been a mistake.  We had stopped to check the mail when Callee stepped in a huge fire ant nest while wearing flip flops.  She ended up getting eleven ant bites.  When we got in the house she sat down and was furiously scratching the bites.  While doing this she said in her meanest voice “I wish all the fire ants in the world would just go with Jesus to Heaven.”

On one hand, I wanted to crack up laughing but on the other hand, it made me sad.  Now my little girl equates Jesus with dying.  I’m realizing now that although it wouldn’t have been as sweet, it would have been much more productive to have just told her that Mema had died.

With this in mind I just have to hope that she doesn’t come in contact with someone trying to evangelize to her.  The moment they ask her if she wants to have Jesus in her heart she’s likely to wonder if it’s some kind of death threat!

Bumpity, Bump, Bump, Bump

On Friday I mentioned something that gives me a big owiee when I bump up against it.  I get pretty uncomfortable with the whole “Jesus is the (only) Way” thing.  To me, that’s just another method of putting the power for your salvation and happiness outside of yourself.  I think we each are in charge of saving ourselves.  There is no incantation we can say or water we can bathe in that makes Jesus’ spirit enter our body and steer us to Heaven. (Although I do believe we can connect with him or the spirit he represents.) Our salvation requires work on our part and if anything the way of Jesus was the behavior he modeled for us.

This leads me to my most recent bump.  I have a Facebook friend whose spouse left them about 6 weeks ago.  In all honesty I was excited to watch my friend’s journey through this.  It may sound bad, but from everything I observed it was the right path.  The friend seemed to come alive and was intent on being happy on their own…until someone else played matchmaker.  One date and my friend is head over heels in love.  It would not surprise me if an engagement comes before the divorce is finalized.

I found myself wanting to tell them to stop right there and go back to being “on their own.”  I mean sure I could say rationally it’s too soon and they should really focus on healing, but this is about more than that.  The fact that it bothers me so much means it is also about me.  So what is it within me that this is a mirror for. I know it sounds narcissistic but stuff bugs us because it irritates an un-healed wound within us.  You can be sure when you take something personally that is really none of your business there’s more to it than just “concern for another.”

So what is it?  Well I think I fear that I will never “make it on my own” when it comes to my professional life.  But that I will always give in and take the easier path when faced with a challenge.  I’ve already started thinking of “back-up careers” that won’t make me happy but will keep me busy when that time comes.  The other thought this situation brings up for me is this idea of seeking outside of yourself.  Intellectually I know that true happiness comes from within.  I know that in order to love fully I must first love myself that way.  But I can’t seem to do it.  I continue to seek affirmation from sources outside of me, instead of looking within.  I want my heart to open up wide again (I’ve felt somewhat closed lately) and when it does I want to leave it that way instead of stuffing it full of what the world has to offer.

At the end of the day I want for my friend the same thing that I want for myself.  I want them to be happy and at peace.  But more importantly I want them to stop searching and know that they are already enough!

Happy Birthday Amy…

Dear Amy,

So today is your birthday.  I still can’t believe you’re not here.  It’s been years since I’ve celebrated your birthday with you.  The last time I remember was your 21st.  I’m sure I was around for the 22nd and 23rd, but after that I moved away.  This has been a tough week for me and in a way I’m surprised because like I mentioned it’s been years since I celebrated one of them with you.   Those people who’ve been with you for most of them are having a spaghetti dinner for you tonight.  I wish I could be there.  Actually what I really wish is that I could call you up and say “ha, ha, now you’re 35 too, we’re so old.”  But you’ll never be old, just plastered in my memory forever as a 34-year-old expectant mom.  If I try real hard I can still see you waddling in the bedroom with that piece of cake for me.  Why is it again that you were supposed to be on bedrest but were serving me cake?  I’m sure a few people would have scolded me for letting you do that.

You know I really believe that you are still with me.  A few weeks ago as I was falling asleep I thought of you.  I thought about how I was on vacation and too busy to call you after the babies were born.  I had two days that I could have said congratulations and I loved you but I chose to wait until I got home.  By the time I got home it was too late.  I don’t really have any regrets about our friendship except for that one.  I went to sleep that night thinking about it and then you came to me in a dream.  It had been a long time since I’d dreamed about you and I don’t believe it was coincidental that I saw you on that particular night.

I wonder what you are experiencing these days.  Your mom talks about Heaven a lot.  I try to think of what Heaven is.  I like the way Sylvia Browne describes the other side.  Basically, if I’m remembering correctly, she says it is just layered on top of this side.  That we are totally intertwined and us humans are just too “closed” and stuck in our life drama to see it.  So I’d say that you are floating around seeing and feeling the underlying love in everything.  I’ve also wondered if you’re working some sort of magic out there too.  So many of your friends have gotten pregnant since you left, including friends who had struggled for years (like you did).  Not that you are the stork or anything, but maybe you’re just helping people get the timing right.

I know some people will read this and think I’m crazy.  I’m sure there is a logical explanation for so much of what I experience as you still being here.  On this one I don’t want to be logical, I want to be hopeful and faithful.  I’ll cling to the idea that no one really knows for sure.  I’ll count my frogs, my dreams, and the latest baby epidemic as gifts and messages from my favorite angel.  So keep them coming and let me hold you tightly in my heart until we meet again!!

I love and miss you.  Happy 35th Birthday, Little Mama (maybe that would have been my nickname for you)!

Les

PS:  I just reread this and have to say I soo wouldn’t have nicknamed you Little Mama…it’s pretty dorky. (And quite frankly it’s probably you who brought the dorkiness of that to my attention anyway!)

(Insert Your Name Here)ism

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with my friend, Ray, and he brought up an idea he had presented me with before.  It was the “ten years from now plan” and in his picture he saw me as a minister.  I responded by saying that I do kind of like the idea of it, but I don’t really think I fully align with any one particular church or religion.  I mentioned a comment from an old post where someone said I was trying to create my own religion-Lesleeism.  I told Ray that if it was the church of Lesleeism, I could definitely be the minister, but otherwise I’d just have to go with the flow and see where it leads.  He responded with the idea that we all have our own personal religions, he has Rayism, and everybody else has their own “isms.”

Some people might disagree with me on this.  They will promise they are true to their religion.  But what I see when I look out into the world is that most of us straddle the line instead of walk it.  People pick and choose what works.  It’s all about Jesus’ birth at the Christmas Eve service and all about Santa Clause on Christmas morning.  We “forgive those that trespass against us” until we come face to face with someone with different political or religious beliefs.  We remind those around us of the importance of upholding the commandments, as we break them daily or hourly in our minds (which if I understand correctly the bible says is the same as actually breaking them.)  We teach of the power of forgiveness through salvation from Jesus, but we hold grudges that often follow us to the grave.    (It seems all my examples are from Christianity, sorry about that, it’s all I know.)

So what is my answer to this seeming hypocrisy?  OWN IT!!  Admit that religion is not a “one size fits all.”  I don’t think any one person can mold themselves to perfectly into one religion and trying to is simply putting you out of integrity with yourself.  When I was young and was taught about Hell, it absolutely broke my heart.  I just couldn’t rationalize it.  I didn’t get how an evil person could recite the words “I accept Jesus into my heart as my savior” and be admitted to Heaven, while someone good and charitable who may not know or get the opportunity to say those words would burn for eternity in Hell.  It didn’t make sense.  The world is too big and there is too much diversity for that to be true.  Because of this idea and others, I left God behind for years.  When I learned new ideas, one being that we all experience the same thing when we die no matter how “good” or “bad” we are, I could embrace God and spirituality again.  What rang true for me was the idea that our human existence is like school.  We are here to learn and evolve and we keep coming back until we meet the goals and can graduate and return to “God.”  But that one idea, that feels right to me, could absolutely assault the sensibilities of someone else.  And that is OK!  I am not asking anyone to take my words and beliefs as truth, I am suggesting you simply ask yourself what YOUR truth is.  It will probably not be the same as mine and if you’re completely honest with yourself it may not even be the same as your religion’s.

So I encourage you to find your own truth…create your own religion, one that makes you feel loved and happy!  Grab a plate and partake of the buffet of spirituality!

Wild and Unruly

My very favorite Dixie Chicks song is “Cowboy, Take Me Away.”  I used to think it was about a real cowboy and I’d imagine what he looked like as he swooped in on his white horse and carried Natalie away to some field where they’d lay holding hands among the blue bonnets.  Then one day I was listening with new ears and suddenly chills went up and down my arms as I realized that they aren’t singing about some ordinary cowboy, they’re singing about God.  Once I realized that the song became even more beautiful.

My very favorite verse is:

“I said wanna touch the earth.  I wanna break it in my hands.  I wanna grow something wild and unruly.”

I’m pretty sure that one of the ways God connects with us is by giving us seeds.  Those seeds might come through watching a TV show or movie, reading a book, conversing with a friend, hearing the still small voice within during a quiet moment, or they spring forth like a phoenix rising from the ashes after a tragedy.  These seeds are inspired ideas that make us feel ALIVE.  They are the ideas that make you think this is it…this could change everything.  Once we get the seeds it is up to us to plant them.  I think when we decide to plant the seeds we must be fearless because there is a pretty good chance we will grow something wild and unruly.  But if we look at our history, at the people and ideas that had the most positive impact on our society, we will see that so much of it was (at times) wild and unruly.  I think God works like that.  It’s about having the faith and courage to stick with it and see it through to the end.  It’s not as easy as growing a garden.  With a garden, you buy the seeds and the package (or salesman) provides you with the answers at the time of purchase.  You know what will grow and how long it will take.  When God gives you seeds there are no immediate answers, the planting is a leap of faith.  But if you take that leap, no matter how wild and unruly it seems to be, you will end up closer to heaven and closer to him!