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  • Writer's pictureRenee LaVallee McKenna,MA

Being "Good?"

"The more human beings believe that they must sacrifice their fundamental happiness because to do this is 'right,' 'good,' or 'mature,' the more they become deprived. This deprivation creates a secret destructiveness and ruthless selfishness that goes secretly underground, erroneously attaching shame and negativity to the natural, healthy desire for joy and fulfillment."

Pathwork Guide Lecture #164

My friend Pam's parents recently celebrated 50 years of marriage. They had a huge party, like a second wedding. Lots of gorgeous photos and amazing social media posts. The seemingly happy elders danced and toasted the night away with a huge crowd of family and friends. Hundreds of congratulations were offered to the golden anniversary couple.

The day after the party, Pam visited her parents house for lunch. They were screaming at each other. Something smashed in the kitchen. Mom was drunk again and the Dad told Pam that he should have left her years ago, that he hated his life with her mother.

This familiar scene was a replay of their 30th wedding anniversary and their 25th, and Christmas, past birthdays and many other events back as far as Pam could recall. Pam doesn't spend much time with her parents and always follows her visits with a few Alanon or Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families meetings to reset her own sanity after these family affairs.

"Everything looks great on the outside, but it's total bullshit," says Pam. "They hate each other, but they are 'good' Catholics and would never divorce even though they are miserable together."

Pam's parents believe staying married is God's will and that divorce is a sin. Marriage is good and divorce is bad. Simple. Black and white.

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." Matthew 19:6

I have to question the idea of knowledge of God's will here. I believe in the institution of marriage. I also believe in divorce. Taken in this context, God's will is for people to sacrifice their fundamental happiness because to do this is 'right,' 'good,' or 'mature. This is not the God of my understanding. This is a rigid God of rules that take no account of the needs of the individual on a soul level. This is a God more concerned with obedience than with personal growth and fulfillment. I cannot trust this God.

I must turn to the Goddess, the Great Mother aspect of the Divine. She cares less about law and more about love and joy as a path to righteousness. She is brave and uses her courage to act creatively and with passion inspired by the integrity of the deeper self. The Divine Feminine is not concerned social norms or the expectations of others, but with the development and truth of the higher self in each of Her children.

Jesus didn't care about social norms and called out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who outwardly adhered to strict obligations but who's hearts were hardened to the deeper principles of love, charity and humility.

As I seek knowledge of God's or the Goddess' will in my life, I realize that external rules can only bring me so far. God gave us feelings as a guide for inner truth. Joy calls us forward. Pain is like a guardrail letting us know something needs correcting.

Unfortunately, in a purely cultural context, we can come to believe that following rules or being "good" is the right thing, even if it means staying in a terrible situation. In this way we connect being "good" with suffering and sacrifice of our authentic need for happiness. We then reject our natural and healthy instincts for fulfillment as "bad" or "selfish," because they run counter to the rule of law. This results in an inner split with our authentic self, our own healthy needs and a separation from the actual love of God/Goddess, which is our birthright.

Recently the Bible was used by our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to justify separating immigrant children from their families, even as religious leaders called to rescind the executive order as inhumane and cruel.

It is easy to hide a bad motive under a good one, but the bad motive is like a cancer that proliferates and spreads. We all have cancer cells in our body, but they need to right conditions to take root and grow into a tumor. Denying our own needs on a soul level is such a circumstance individually and collectively

The work of spiritual growth and maturity is to look deeply into ourselves to find the highest good. I believe we are being called to such growth individually and collectively. We need to outgrow our childish search for easy answers that come from authority and seek the highest good for everyone. Unwinding our own inner negativity is a byproduct of finding the will to seek our own joy and to provide for the personal growth of others. In my best moments, this is my understanding of God's will for each of us.

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