Dwelling Deeper Within

Discontent.
Restless.
Call it depression, if you will. 
Nothing satisfies.
Everything has lost its appeal.

“It seems that I’ve completely fallen out of love. Nothing impresses me anymore.” -4/9/09

The well-meaning Christians always told me that this feeling was an indication that I needed to “press in” more with the Lord. The world and all it offers will never satisfy the deep hunger within.

I suppose there’s some truth to that, but before I even revisited that memory/thought, I was gripped with the new realization that what I really want is to go deeper within myself. 

Unfortunately, I’ve used my faith as a way to avoid myself. I actually thought that was the point. I’m too focused on myself, I need to seek God. When I would get hit with this feeling of emptiness, I would try to fill it up with prayer/worship music/Bible reading, but often with little result. Sometimes I could muster up a spiritual high, but it dropped me right back down into the depths of my own void. I can see now that the true disconnect is within myself. 

I keep pushing outwards. I keep seeking all that is without me. I keep searching for all the externals to fill up my internal emptiness. And it feels very weird to admit that God is included in that. God is absolutely an external concept. He’s not me, therefore, He’s outside of me. He may very well dwell inside of me, but there’s still the understanding that He and I are not one in the same. 

Here now, let me freely admit to myself and to the world: I’m not in search of God. I’m in search of myself. Always have been. The search for God is ultimately a search for myself. I’ve long been convinced that I could only be found in God, so in order to find myself, I must first find God. I’ve convinced myself I seek God for the sole purpose of knowing God, when all along my (not so) hidden agenda was really to find and know myself.

I think any true search for God will lead one to one’s own doorstep. It’s inevitable, inescapable. A search for divinity will always lead to the divine aspect of humanity. As a creation of the Divine, we carry the DNA of divinity within our very cells.

“I searched for God and found only myself.
I searched for myself and found only God.”
-Rumi

It seems quite clear to me now: I must go within, in a totally new way. I’m not really sure what that looks like or how to do it, but I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track to finding out. I’ve had some pretty intense experiences this past year, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface. I know that the experience of my existence is far deeper than I could possibly fathom.

And as I sit here writing (this is a totally spontaneous writing that is coming to me as I go), I feel like I’m starting to put my most recent puzzle pieces together:

I’m terribly “ungrounded”, especially lately. I’m spacey and brain farty and have a difficult time engaging in real life day to day activities. I’m “not here”. The other day I asked my spirit to please come back. Life is so screwed up when I’m so disconnected like this. I keep trying to find ways to ground myself, but somehow everything I try only seems to push my spirit out farther away.

Maybe, just maybe, the key is within me. I must go inside, deeper. I keep reaching outwards… for God, for relationships, for things, for nature and the earth itself. I keep trying to find myself and wholeness and grounding in all the things outside of me. But it’s not working. Perhaps, maybe, I must go deeper within myself. Somehow gather my scattered self into my center, into the deep heart of my being. 

As I said, I’m not entirely sure how to do this. If I think in energy terms (for lack of better words), I discover the great difference in my reactions between going within and going without. I can switch to “oneness with the universe” freakishly easy (and this coming from someone who’s never done meditation). I feel the barrier between me and everything else fade out in a second. Sometimes it’s amusing and certainly a nice feeling. On the other hand, going within fills me with fear. I’ve had experiences that I can only describe as “falling within myself” and it terrified me. I exclaimed there was an entire universe inside of me. (I let myself go into the universe around me, but what about the universe within me?) This feeling tends to overtake me the most when I’m utterly exhausted. I actually feel myself slip inside and I always catch myself with a jolt. It’s like abruptly waking up from a split-second nap. Whenever it starts happening, I resist it so bad. But like all things I resist in my life, I realize there is an aspect of this which must be embraced. Perhaps it is exactly what I need at that exact moment. Perhaps there’s a reason this experience happens when I “reach the end of myself”- it’s the end of all external holding points, including my physical existance. I have nothing left to cling to. There is only one place left to go, and that is within.

Right now I feel this adventurous desire to explore the unknown depths of my own being. What could be more exciting than actually coming to know yourself? Honestly?! And do I have any real concept of what the hell I’m even talking about? No! (I shout in glee) But I’ll get there! The desire is real. It’s more real than any other spiritual truth I could dwell on right now. 

Could I possibly turn my desire inwards? Could I fixate a decent sized portion of my own passion on myself for a change? What would that be like? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m convinced it would be the very definition of “epic”. And I suspect it may be the only way to truly satisfy my soul.

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”
-Rumi

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Past Present Future MeĀ 

The first time I sincerely contemplated the non-existance of God was this past February. I’d been reading through old journals, trying to capture significant moments to give an overview of my life and the struggles I’ve faced… trying to understand why I am the way I am.

I had just finished reading my 8th grade journal and moving into my first year of high school. It finally hit me how hard a transition that was. I was 14. It was exactly half my life ago.

I found myself wanting to go back and talk to 14 year old me. Wanting to somehow prepare her for the brutality of life that she has so far been shielded from. But I realized I didn’t have anything to tell her. There’s nothing I could have said to prepare her for what was approaching. Instead I wanted to hold her and cry, and I knew that 14 year old me would be totally weirded out by it. But I looked at the upcoming events, and tried holding her as her heart broke in new ways. I have to be there for her, she has nobody.

There are times in my life when I talk to Past Me. Having new understanding of life and the situations I was faced with, I talk to that clueless girl of yesteryear. Last December I went walking through the cemetary that was nearby my childhood home. And I suddenly began pouring out my heart to little Gracie girl. Trying to instill courage and hope into Gracie-going-through-puberty. It felt like a necessity. Once I know things a little better, I feel compelled to talk to old me. I can’t change what’s going to happen or what she’s going to do, but I let her know I’m there for her, that everything truly will be alright in the end. “You’re gonna make it. Things will change. And you are LOVED.”

When I did this again this past February, trying to brace 14 year old me for the dramatic changes of high school, I suddenly went into a panic. I was overcome with anxiety as in a flash of a second I became convinced that God did not exist. That it was only me. That in all the difficult times of life when I somehow still felt the reassuring presence of a God who loved me- that the presence I felt was none other than Future Grace. The Grace who already went through the experience and comes back in time to spiritually support me. There is no God- there is only me.

The next day this concept seemed totally batshit crazy. I do still believe in God, although my concept of what God is has been going through some major upheavals. But I don’t think my idea of Future Me coming back to comfort/support Present Me is too far out there.

Time doesn’t exist in the linear form we think it does. I’m no scientist, but I’ve read enough to know that what we think we know is incredibly limited. We DO know that people throughout history have had the ability to see the future (and even the past). Apparently I’m one of them, but not in a very dramatic way. It’s mostly personal, and it’s not so much vision as it is feeling. 

I think my theory of Future Me interacting with Present Me (or Present Me interacting with Past Me) is somewhat supported in that Past Me has tapped into Future Me. There are so many poems and songs I’ve written (or simply stories I’d spun in my imagination) that had no personal relevance at the time of their writing. I didn’t really know what I was writing or WHY I was writing it. It didn’t really make sense at the time. But I shrugged my shoulders and continued living life. Now I am experiencing so many of these things I wrote about. They are suddenly now incredibly personal. Somehow I was channeling my own future without even realizing it.

You can call me crazy and delusional if you want, and I fully expect you to. But it doesn’t really matter what you think. All that matters is what I think, and how I live my life. And this bizarre timeless relationship I believe I have with myself actually gives me a measure of peace and hope and courage. I know there’s the element of God surrounding me in my darkest moments. And knowing that the ultimate Creator has my back is certainly comforting. But truth be told, it feels a little more comforting to imagine that it’s me, because it proves to me that I made it. If Future Me can connect with Present Me, then I know that I made it through my current dark night. I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna be ok.

Afterall, who’s support would truly be the most helpful to me? Wouldn’t my own support be the most helpful? Wouldn’t Future Me, who already went through it and made it to the other side- wouldn’t her support be the ultimate? She knows me, she IS me, she’s already had the experience, and she loves me more than anyone ever could. I’m going to trust her more than I’d trust anyone else. 

For the religious among us who need a more sanctified and less blasphemous sounding concept, let’s just say that it is God working through Future Me. We can all agree on that, can’t we? In the moment I think it’s God surrounding me with love, and that is true. But we can easily say it is God working through Future Me to express love to Present Me (which would certainly give God’s love a more “personal” touch, an intimacy I desperately crave). Afterall, God exists outside of time. He doesn’t need to meet me right here and now (He’s already here…), He can easily work through Future Me to reach Present Me. Basically, it all ends up meeting me in the Present Moment anyway, so the complications are irrelevant. 

It’s a crazy concept that’s a little difficult to really wrap the mind around. But it both amuses and comforts me. If it’s nothing but a crutch, then I can accept that too, because sometimes we could all use a crutch to help us stand. Whatever gets us up and moving is blessed of God.

And look what lyrics now come to mind! Theory in action: I was writing for this exact moment.

“Keep on standing
even if you need a crutch
I’ll be there
I’ll be there to lift you up

Don’t give up in the middle of the night
In the middle of the night
the sun is on it’s way.”
-2010

we only exist right now

“There is only Right Now
No past with its failures
No future with its accomplishments
There is only Right Now
with the me that Is”
there is only Right Now 7/7/17

For years, I’ve been trying really hard to get my shit together. To organize my life. To figure out how to operate and get things done. Yet I keep finding myself in roughly the same places I’ve already been. I make improvements in the way I view myself and the world, but so far it hasn’t quite translated into a successful daily life. 

I keep telling myself it takes time. One day I’ll be better, I’ll get it figured out, and my life won’t be such a mess.

And then it occured to me the other day that I might be approaching this whole thing the wrong way. I started thinking about the moment, the present, and how this is all there is. 

I feel like I’ve been pouring too much energy into Future Me, while ignoring Present Me. Basically, I think about the person I want to be, and work on being that. But somehow that completely overlooks the person I am right now.

Future Me is great. Future Me has endless energy. Future Me is self-confident, less distracted, and highly motivated. Future Me is so accomplished, so on fire, so unstoppable. Future Me is OVERFLOWING WITH AWESOMESAUCE.

I’ve been trying to borrow some of that energy, confidence, motivation, and focus from Future Me in order to become Future Me. But here’s the deal: Future Me doesn’t exist. Only Present Me exists. 

Truth: the future doesn’t exist. The past doesn’t even exist. The only thing that exists, is Now. The Present. This is all there is.  

Future Me doesn’t exist. She’s not real. I can’t live through her. I can’t become her. She never has and never will exist. Because the future doesn’t exist. There is only this present moment.

There is only me, who I AM. Not who I will be or even who I was. There is only who I AM, Right Now. 

THAT’s the girl I need to be focusing on. I need to realistically evaluate who I am right now– what sets me off and what gets me going. Realistically understand what Present Me can and cannot handle or tolerate. Not what I THINK I should handle according to the Future Me that I’d like to be. But actually who the Me that IS can deal with. I’ve got to work with Present Me instead of forcing her into situations she’s not prepared for.

The more I focus on the future, the less available I am for the Me that Is, which guarantees I will never ever become Future Me. 

Everything lately keeps telling me to “SLOW DOWN.” Just be. Just dwell here in this moment of eternity and be. Let yourself BE.

Somehow, in slowing down into the present moment, I can find the grace I need. When I stop viewing Present Me as a hindrance to Future Me, I then see Present Me as someone who needs a lot of love and grace. Present Me is in a lot of pain. Present Me needs to be acknowledged and validated. Present Me is terribly confused and is in desperate need of patient kindness and understanding. 

Present Me isn’t a hindrance. Present Me is the key to everything I want to be. Because deep down inside of me, I already am who I want to be. It’s just covered up and buried under a billion layers of issues that need to be processed with a whole lot of grace.

And that’s the thing… grace isn’t a future concept, a future gift. Grace is a gift for the moment. Grace is available here and now. The Bible says that Jesus died for us WHILE we were sinners. He didn’t die for our Future Perfect Selves. He died for our needy desperate Present Selves. That’s where we find grace. Not in the future. But right now. 

The me that IS is the me I have to live with for the rest of my life, for the rest of my present moments. I’ve got to be nice to her. I’ve got to love her for who she is. The love and grace I give to her in the present moment is what will nurture her soul into becoming the truest expression of who she really is.

It all starts with recognizing that I AM, right here, right now.