STEP FOUR CONTINUED
Accept that this Higher Power is understood in different ways and by different names in various religions and cultures, and open our lives to hearing the Divine Voice in any way it chooses to communicate to us.
Instruction: Ignore the labels.
Sometimes I enjoy shopping in thrift shops. I look for brand name clothes, and, at times, I find an article of clothing with the original price tag still attached indicating the article has evidently never been worn. I get excited when the item is my size and of a color and pattern I would wear. The greatest thrill, however, is when I look at the price tag and discover the item is listed for a fraction of its original cost. Of course, the more exclusive the brand, the higher the price will be. Sometimes, I allow the bargain to override my judgment, and I come home with clothing that I thought I would wear only to discover that I didn't really like the color or pattern enough to wear it regularly. I would be better off to ignore the brand names completely and shop based solely on what I know I like well enough to want to wear it.
We have allowed the words that people use to define their Higher Power to brand That-Which-Is-Greater-Than-Self by their religious beliefs. Many of us have assigned a value judgment to those names. If we hear the word “Jehovah,” we tend to give the name a Jewish brand. For the purposes of Religious Recovery, we chose the expression “The Divine” in an effort to find something neutral. Time will tell if we are successful. The unfortunate thing is that we often allow our judgment of the brand to determine the value we place on anything associated with the name used by that brand of religion. For instance, if I think poorly of Hinduism and hear something about the character of Vishnu, I might be prone to shrug off the information as useless. The same might be true of Islam and Allah or Christianity and God. If we could ignore the labels we associate with the names, we might discover useful information as to the character and nature of our Higher Power. If we could shed the prejudices we might have formed to each particular religion, we might find a closet full of beautiful religious colors and designs that describe our Higher Power in ways that fit who we are, in ways that are comfortable with our spirit, and in ways that help define us in warm, inviting, and radiant hues.
Today’s Assignment is to consider the ways you allow labels to help you make decisions on a daily basis. Some of that can be helpful, but when it comes to labeling religions and religious experiences, labels can often set you against an entire religious system that might be otherwise useful in your quest to find a deeper understanding of The Divine. Take a few moments to consider your religious labels. Are you discounting whole groups of people simply because you’ve given them a label? If so, try to think of some steps you could take that would help you feel more comfortable with different religious organizations?
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.