Epilogue

The journey continues-beyond these pages and these signposts. The word that frequently comes to my mind is courage. Anyone can live by a formula. It’s much harder to leave the straight and narrow. Yet many of us have found that we must leave. The imperative from deep within is too strong. Life beckons and to dishonor the call would be spiritual death.

So again I congratulate you for embarking. There are more areas of growth to explore. This book has been a primer, stressing the foundation principles of self-love and trust. As you learn to take care yourself, I invite you to continue exploring in the following areas:

  • Rebuild a social support network. Be creative with finding new individuals and groups that share values and interests. Spend time with people that can be supportive to you and encourage you to be who you are.
  • Redefine your spirituality, if you care to have a spiritual interest in your life. Let your beliefs be chosen instead of inherited or indoctrinated. Allow yourself to consider a wide range of ideas and develop the practices that work best for you. If you remain a church-goer, find a group that respects your right to feel and think for yourself.
  • Honor the urge to express yourself. Being creative is your right; you are not just a creation. Consider the healing influence and life-giving power of art, music, writing, and dance. Discover how you can let your feelings out in a way that brings you pleasure and personal growth. Let it be a part of your life and not subject to external approval. Find out how creative living can take you beyond coping into thriving.
  • Carefully assess all of the relationships in your life to see how your religion has affected them. Take responsibility for peace-making, conflict resolution, or deepening of connections. When necessary, let go, and let others have their domain of responsibility.
  • Continue the process of self-examination and growth, going beyond the issues of religious damage. As you heal your wounds and move on with your life, take the opportunity to learn from all the insights that might arise. Address the needs within you that helped to make your religion problematic.
  • Take responsibility for your children. Before sending them off for religious training, think about how you yourself might impart the values and sensibilities that you want them to have. With the information they get, trust them to make their own way, and develop their own spirituality.
  • Remember humor! Don’t try to make life make sense. You can enjoy the moments when everything comes together and also learn to laugh when it all seems to be a riddle.

I have come to believe that our most basic human task is to take responsibility for ourselves in a deep sense. There are many ways in which we fight and resist the job. Losing ourselves in a safe religion is one way. And there are many other methods for avoiding the naked challenge of being human. Yet the rewards are immense when we move beyond our need for security.

The gardener nurtures and protects the plant and then stands back to allow the explosion of flowering color. You owe it to yourself to blossom, to permit your child full uninhibited growth.. Just remember that taking care of a precious child can be pure delight. And who knows better than a child how to let the spirit soar.