When I was a little girl, I was told what to believe. I dared not question authority. I grew up thinking those in authority knew more than I did. End of discussion.
Believing What Teachers Teach
This was especially true of growing up Italian-Catholic. I went to parochial school; and I was taught by nuns. They ruled with an iron fist - and it is true that they used rulers to discipline.
Who would want to challenge that and risk being WACKED? Because I was a free spirit, I’m surprised that ruler didn’t become a permanent fixture on my backside.
With all the discipline and punishment, I grew up believing that I deserved to be punished. I thought that since nuns were holy people, they obviously knew how to behave like God. So, I believed that God was always angry at me and that He was so far away.
Believing in Traditions
I grew up learning many Italian traditions. As I got older, I wanted to rebel. However, I didn’t want to hurt my mother, especially by cutting back on the huge Christmas Eve tradition of gorging on a dinner feast which included seven fishes and many Italian specialty desserts made from scratch. That was my mother’s signature meal.
A few years ago, I heard a story about tradition that put things in perspective. It made me laugh. Yet, there was a lot of truth in it.
There was a young married couple. The young bride was so excited to make her first big dinner for her family. She decided to cook a ham. She proceeded to cut the ends off the ham and put it in the pan. Her husband asked her, “Why are you doing that? You’re wasting food!” She said, “That’s how my mother always cooked a ham.”
To prove her point, she asked her mother why she cut the ends off the ham, before she cooked it. She responded, “that’s the way my mother always made it.” The young bride then asked her grandmother, “Why do you cut the ends off, before you cook the ham?” Her reply, “That’s the way my mother cooked it.”
Since her great-grandmother was still alive, the young bride asked her why she cut the ends off the ham, before she cooked it. Her great grandmother replied, “Because that’s the only way I could fit it in the pan.”
How often do we do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done?
Do we ever ask why?
Believing What God Says
I was very Catholic. I carried that Catholic guilt with me into adulthood.
Then a miracle happened. I finished my M.B.A. and I splurged on the trip of a lifetime. I flew off to Greece for a week and then cruised the Mediterranean.
One of the stops was Israel. It was here that I had a spiritual experience that changed my life. I had a head on collision with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed before being crucified.
I had a vision of Jesus in agony; and I heard the voice of the Lord say, “It’s simpler than you’ve been taught.” I thought I was crazy. I cried for hours. That day, the Lord showed Himself to me in a tangible way. I never felt so much love. In a moment, He began to erase my belief that He was angry with me and so far away. That experience is as real today as it was over 30 years ago.
My faith took a turn. I didn’t want religion. I started searching. I needed to break the pattern of old thinking. I discovered a loving God who wants the best for me. I started to see myself through His eyes. I started to realize we’re not made the same; and that each of us has a different purpose in life.
Believing in Myself
In my walk of faith, my confidence was building. I was finding my voice.
I spent too many years believing what others said about me. It was now time to believe what God said about me. This didn’t happen overnight. It was through my years of studying scripture that I started to believe the truth about who I am.
I began to realize that I allowed myself to become what others said I should be.
I worked in corporate America for 22 years as a marketing executive in the beauty industry. I was living the life expected of me. I did well. I climbed the corporate ladder. I made a great salary. I owned my own home. I will always be grateful for this part of my life; but, I wasn’t satisfied.
I needed to be creative. I had stuffed this desire for so many years. The day I left corporate was so liberating. I took steps of faith and followed my inner voice. My childhood dream to be an actress began to emerge. I started to pursue what I was born to do.
I’ve learned to believe in myself and what’s best for me. For years, I felt I needed to be responsible. The other day I had an epiphany. I realized that, by following my dreams and my passion, I was being responsible to myself. What joy!
It’s never too late to go after your dreams!