• Olivia Roberson

Relationship Status with the Divine: It's Been Complicated

What is your relationship with the Divine? If you’re like me, it’s been complicated.

I was raised Catholic & went to 13 years of Catholic school. As a young child, I was devoutly religious. You could catch me praying every day & occasionally sleeping with my rosary beads.

I even used to play pretend “Nun’s Masses” with my friends & pretend to preach during recess. #catholicschoolgirlprobs

In middle school & especially as I navigated my all girls Catholic high school, things started to change.

I hated what I was learning (or not learning) about sexuality & the shame stories I was being told about women’s bodies.

I once went to a mass where the priest said a woman is like a beautiful vase, & when she sleeps with a man outside marriage, she’s a broken vase. Um, hell no.

In high school, we were required to write letters to our future husbands explaining why we were going to wait until marriage for them.

I remember challenging my religion teachers in class when I was taught that “priests are closer to God” & “women can’t be priests” or challenging the teachings in our Bio-ethics class where we were taught to pass judgment on which decision was morally “right” or “wrong” in complicated medical scenarios that weren’t our decisions to make.

I was enraged upon learning about the sexual abuse within the Church, & I was turned off by the hypocrisy & lack of integrity I found within religious leaders.

Did anyone else watch the documentary “The Keepers” on Netflix? That tore my heart out & shredded my trust.

I felt hurt & burned & wanted no part in it anymore. Nothing annoyed me more than being approached about a youth group or hearing a religious song on the radio.

I built walls up & wanted to keep all of that out of my heart.

As I got a little older, I became more & more devoted to my yoga practice & all things self-inquiry. The strangest thing happened.

I started to feel the urge to say “amen” at the end of class instead of Namaste.

I actually had to stop myself from letting it out kind of like when you’re dating someone & you’re about to hang up the phone & you feel yourself get the urge to say I love you for the first time because it just feels natural.

My yoga practice felt holy & sacred to me in a way I didn’t understand.

As I started to get more into self-reflection practices, I started setting the intention to be open to spirituality.

I learned in that surrender to the divine is part of yoga, an integral part.

I looked around & realized the people I admired most, who seemed to have the most peace & happiness & success, were the people most connected to the Divine, in their own ways.

I couldn’t ignore the importance of this connection!

I’ve learned to lean into my personal connection to the Divine in whatever way makes sense to me. Often it’s through nature & meditation.

I also love reading & listening to a favorite spiritual teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Buddhist monk.

His book Happiness brings me more peace than I can put into words. I also love his audiobook “Teachings on Love.”

As I strengthen my relationship with the divine, I know that I am being guided & protected, which gives me so much strength.

Knowing that the work I am here to do in the world is for a greater purpose is what gives me the courage to keep showing up.

I’m sure as I continue to grow my relationship with the Divine will continue to grow & change.

I’m curious, what comes up for you when you hear the word Divine?

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