I'd like to ask you a question: If you have ever been religious, or followed a particular religious group, espec ially

Catholicism or Christianity, have you ever felt as though you had wanted y our religion to be a fairy-tale, turning you into a fairy-tale creation? A pure and perfect being, who could do no wrong? As you go on living, whatever kind of life you live, whatever kind of person you are, do you come to realize that this is not only unrealistic, but unnecessary as well? My religion - any one for that matter - is an organized human attempt to worship beings. Divine Beings that I believe are very real and that I love in my own s mall way and wish to love more. To me, they are real with presences and attributes that I can relate to and love . My religion is not where I start. THEY ARE WHERE I START - by loving and connec ting with them, as friends, as companions and guides. When I can do this, with some measure of success, I will have more faith and I then can proceed to give t o others based on that faith. You can still give and care about those around you - but to start with charity w ork, to start out trying to be and do what you are not and cannot do, with your heart - that is a mistake a lot of people make. I'll go to church every day and never miss a day - I'll give to charity - I'll m ake sacrifices for others and think less of myself. All in an attempt to please God, to make others see that you are worthy, to be acceptable and perhaps "holy " - to feel that, yes, I can love myself and I deserve this existence God gave m e. I feel now that is wrong. So wrong. I could not start out with these noble and difficult (for some) attempts. There is no reason on earth to do any of this, except one - THAT YOU TRULY DESIRE TO DO THESE THINGS AND THAT YOU DO IT FOR GOD . BELIEVING THIS IS WHAT HE WANTS. THIS WILL PLEASE HIM. ONLY HIM. THERE IS NO REASON FOR US TO BE HOLY. Only to be who we are, as God created us. To be where we are, however small and restricted, whether by our own doing or the doing of circumstances. This is not a cop-out by a weak-willed person who is afraid to reach out and hel p. Trust me! Although that description can fit me, I know with all the certain ty I possess that if I feel I am supposed to do something now, if I feel strengt hened by Our Creator and my prayers and guidance, I will do it, no matter how mu ch pain it is costing me, or how difficult it may seem to be. I only ask for th e clarity and the strength to do it. You can change - you can do heroic deeds and make great sacrifices - if change i s necessary. Surprisingly, in many cases it may not be. You may be doing what y ou need to do right where you are, as the person you are. Working hard at self-immolation and self-denial, due to an abysmal sense of fail ure and loathing and guilt. Is this what Jesus would want? Is this what our faith calls us to do? I think it calls us to a much more difficult goal - sometimes we rebel and prote st and deny that it is really what God wants of us. To accept ourselves, as we are. Crabby, lonely, boring, tired, weak, foolish, n asty, flawed in so many miserable ways. Bad tempered, irritating as well as eas ily annoyed by others. Somehow, we have to learn to offer this same acceptance to other people. Did you ever think that you cannot change because maybe you are not supposed to? Did you ever consider the amazing and somewhat disturbing possibility that as yo u lie in bed crying and praying for a miracle of transformation, you do not get the miracle because God is smiling and shaking his head, thinking in His God way - "you have to stay like this for a while - believe me, you will thank me for i t. You will see the reason one day." A bad temper that you truly despise and others have crucified you for in their o wn way may actually lead you to speak up and say what you need to at crucial mom ents in your life - and those words you say may reverberate in someone else's li fe and cause momentous change.

Just think - if you did not have this bad temper and this outspokenness, how the n could have said what needed to be told? If you were "sweet" and "quiet"? The way you wished to be, prayed to be, and we re told to be? God may have given you that god-awful (no pun intended!) temper for a reason. I t is your own version of boxing gloves without the serious injury to body. It i s your own weapon, just as powerful as any other when you say the right things a nd the right people hear you. God is indeed an amazing God. Very few will ever comprehend this. Did you ever think that God refuses to answer your prayer to lose weight - despi te all attempts at diet and exercise - even though you do not just pray, but ask for will power? That it is not just a weak will, or other bad influences - tha t possibly, just possibly, God wants you to focus on the inside, to learn to ove rlook appearance, for a vital reason? Does that mean God wants us to overeat, ruin our health, or get and stay fat? No! What it DOES mean is that if you attempt to do this, with all and any means , spending money on products, working out, praying - and you stay the same, or s ee no progress - BUT YOU ARE NOT SUFFERING DUE TO THE OVERWEIGHT - IT IS NOT AFF ECTING YOUR VITAL SIGNS OR YOUR OVERALL HEALTH - that could mean you need to acc ept it. I asked for guidance on this. A lot of guidance. And I always received the sam e answers - always. I want to leave them here for you, my beautiful friends. I was warned about vanity. From the Bible - using my methods - "VANITY OF VANIT IES, ALL IS VANITY" Then I got more specific words and phrases. Work on what is inside you. Focus on what you really want. Learn to look beyond appearance. The mind can change the body, if the mind is focused and knows what it wants. Learn to love yourself. Care for yourself. Get lots of rest. Nurture yourself. Take walks. What I want to show you is, there is nothing I received about pushing yourself t o go to the gym. Having a hard body. Being sexy for other people. It was all about love. Loving yourself. Taking rests when you need them. Bein g easy on yourself when you need to be nurtured. Taking care of the inside of y ou first, last and always. Developing what is in there before anything of value can be "out there". I have thought about this so often. And I know now, I need to learn self-love, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others big time. And if someone does ever co me into my life to love me, he will need to do the same. I will do that for him , for others, for my sisters - and they also need to do that for me. Or at leas t to try. Not a very romantic sexy gift! Not what I can easily do for myself and others. I'd rather have the fairy tale. You better be really really nice and say the r ight things. And I will - no, I HAVE to do the same, or I am a piece of crap! A pimple on the face of life, as I used to SAY! and now that I am much older a nd more tired - now I notice the good looking guys and appreciate them! Go figu re! That's another one of life's little jokes that suck. Like wanting a baby when you're getting too old to have one. Feeling like nurturing the world - or at least one particular cat in your area and some birds and squirrels - when yo u didn't have a trace of maternal instincts before! Or at least if you did they were sublimated and given to your mother, father and animals. But to get back on the subject! - this doesn't mean we can't change. I know yo u've heard that before. To me it's depressing but it may be true. Like first y ou read something that goes "you don't have to do diets anymore, you are free of this or that" and your spirits lift. You feel hopeful. Boy, this is radical s tuff. Then - bang! Here comes the hammer on your head. (There's always a hammer) On ce you get used to your new way of living, then you can begin to change. You ca

n lose weight, you can - " fill in the rest. There is always a catch. I hated that. What I wanted was for them to leave it the way it was. Can I stay like this and still be accepted, acceptable and loved? Do I actually need permission ? Do we always have to put the rest of the lines in there, after telling people "you are alright the way you are, BUT" Well, I'm going to do the same thing to you - sorry! You can change after accep ting yourself but YOU DON'T HAVE TO. For someone you love. For a worthy cause. For your health. It has to be a big reason. A damn good one. And it has to be from your heart. Not as a reluctant sacrifice or because women should look like this. Guys have to be like this. This is ugly. I'm ugly. This is stupi d and boring. I'm stupid and boring. I'll make the connection with my religion - you may have already made it yourse lf. IT'S THE SAME WITH BEING HOLY, OR GOOD, OR KIND. First feel love and acceptance for yourself. Feel it from Blessed Mother - my f avorite woman besides my own mother. My other mother. Our other mother. Feel love from God. Jesus. The angels and saints. Feel love for them as well. Get the relationship going strong. As strong as yo u can. And do not feel down on yourself if your love feels shallow or forced or stupid. It may very well be. Because we all can be these ways ourselves. Bel ieve me, that's all the more reason to do this. THEY WILL ACCEPT YOU NO MATTER WHAT. THEY WILL LIFT YOU UP WHEN OTHERS TEAR YOU DOWN. YOUR LOVE DOES NOT FEE L SHALLOW OR PHONY OR BAD TO THEM. THEY WILL ENCOURAGE YOU TO BE AND FEEL MORE THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE. We can all do this together. I need to do so much more about reaching out. It will come peacefully and naturally, just like everything good comes with the one s from Heaven. Please write and let me know how you do in your making the connection, and I wil l do the same! We can tell each other about our experiences, our progress and o ur feelings. God bless you all! Love, Angie

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