When I read your emails, I have full-body responses. I don’t read quietly; I exclaim, I cheer, I shout. I talk with my hands and wave them around.

Always, I feel fortunate that you trust me with your words, your truths.

As I read your emails this week, I came to one that featured some big traumas and losses. The writer had been through a lot, and she struggled with feeling that everyone was mad at her.

The last line was what made me gasp:

“I will be free someday, not on this earth but hopefully in heaven.”

Those words were like a punch to the solar plexus.

When I caught my breath, I spoke out loud: “Oh, HELL NO.”

Here’s what I mean by that.

If you’ve read my book, then you know that before I ever went to church, I believed in heaven. My definition of heaven was quite simple: It would be a place where I could ask my brother with autism any question, and hear his true answer. It would be a place of connection, with no barriers between people.

But then I was brought into the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) cult. There, I heard many sermons about the World Tomorrow – the WCG’s version of heaven – where the lamb would lay down with the lion.

On the surface, these versions of heaven sounded similar. Peace, love, and connection all the way!

The problem was, the WCG used the promise of their particular heaven to extort people here on earth. The organization demanded tremendous amounts of money, time, and commitment. (To give just one example, for years members were required to give 30% of their pre-tax income to the church. That’s not a typo: thirty percent.)

And of course, ours was the One True Church and the One Right Way, and everyone else was misguided. So that drove a serious wedge into any relationship that wasn’t based in the church.

Living this way was hard here on earth, but heaven was the great carrot dangled in front of us. In the World Tomorrow, everything would be made right.

“Heaven” was what I held to when my teenage brother became severely mentally ill and hurt himself and others. “Heaven” was my hope when I pleaded with my parents to let me live at a friend’s house to be safe, when I begged for mercy and didn’t receive it.

As a teen I never did drugs, but I did use heaven to dull my senses and numb my pain. “Heaven” stopped me from pushing back against injustice here on earth.

Which brings us back to that line:

“I will be free someday, not on this earth but hopefully in heaven.”

In this context, “someday” signals a system of oppression. It’s a spiritual bypass.

And to that, I say, HELL NO.

If you believe in heaven and that helps you, carry on.

But if, like me, you’ve ever used a spiritual belief to justify keeping yourself in a cage here on earth … then would you consider taking a closer look?

For me, a great test of personal beliefs is whether or not I’d wish that belief to manifest itself in someone else I love.

This belief doesn’t pass that test. You wouldn’t turn to a friend who was hurting, and say, “Too bad that you feel trapped inside; you can’t make changes and create mental and emotional freedom now, though. You have to give up and wait until you die!”

Can you feel the cruelty in that? I can. So then why do we do that to ourselves?

You can spend your entire life waiting for “someday.”
Or: You can change the things you can, right here and right now.

Here’s what I know: Freedom is a choice we make, moment by moment. Even in horrible, extreme circumstances with actual cages involved, inner freedom is still possible.

To quote Victor Frankl:

“Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

If Frankl can say that, given the horrors he endured – how can we not do the same?
How can we not harness the freedom that we DO have?

Anyone can future-trip. Few can make changes in the here and now.
But you? I have a feeling that you’re one of the few who can.

If so, please join me for the Live Your Truth Challenge.

This new challenge will run for 5 consecutive days, from this coming Monday August 22nd through Friday August 26th. Each day, you’ll get a new video with never-before-told stories and a practical, 5-minutes-or-less action challenge. Watch and do the challenges anytime that works for you.

Since I always respect your privacy, you are not automatically subscribed.

Go here to get free access to the new Live Your Truth challenge.

Let’s build the Republic of Heaven together.
(Bonus points if you get the reference.)


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