The Things I'm Not Going to Hell for Anymore
Choose a God of Your Own Understanding
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When My Sisters Win, I Win
 This is what choosing happiness looks like when you’re jealous 
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Here’s How Dating Doesn’t Have to Suck So Hard
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The Things I'm Not Going to Hell for Anymore
Choose a God of Your Own Understanding
A bible study teacher in middle school told me God couldn’t hear my prayers if I sinned, my CCD teacher in ninth grade taught that having mortal sin on your heart when you died meant you would go to Hell, and my 11th grade CCD teacher said that masturbation is a mortal sin because it was sexual activity that wasn’t “open to life.”

I had so much shame as a kid thinking that I had to earn God’s love and care in a very particular way. I just stopped praying in between visits to confession, because I figured, “What’s the use? I’m a mortally sinful, horny teenager who masturbates all the time so God definitely can’t hear my prayers.” I would go to confession weekly to get those masturbatory slip ups off my soul and then try to not have “impure thoughts and actions” for fear that if I accidentally died I would go straight to Hell.
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When My Sisters Win, I Win
This is What Choosing Happiness Looks Like When You're Jealous

Lately I’ve been noticing something about myself I don’t like. There’s this unfortunate jealousy that comes up when I see a woman have what I want. Instead of awe and appreciation, I feel and think, “Oh, there’s someone who already has/does that thing I want. Who am I to have/do that too?” I’m not down with this reaction; it doesn’t make me feel good, and it doesn't align with my values. Instead of feeling ashamed for having this thought, I embrace this as an opportunity to grow, change, and choose happiness.

The first step of change is to become aware of the problem that is stifling growth and to witness this pattern without judgment. It is a beautiful thing that I am recognizing this negative story, because I now have the opportunity to choose a new, positive one. It’s not easy to see our own dysfunctional behaviors, because it’s painful. But you can’t clean up the mess if you don’t know there’s a mess! I give myself mad love and respect for being willing to observe the clutter of my brain.

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Here's How Dating Doesn't Have to Suck So Hard

Dating suuuucksss. At least, that’s how I’ve been feeling about it lately, and I know that I’m not alone in that. I’ve been contemplating some ways to make it suck it a little less for myself and hopefully for you too.

To begin with, I’m proud of myself for trying. Searching for a partner is a very vulnerable, emotionally difficult thing, and I give myself mad props for being willing to get out there. The most difficult part of dating is having this desire for love and intimacy but having no control over the many variables that factor into finding a good partner. It’s a big ask of the Universe to bring this kind of connection, and it’s an unnameable mystery to find it.

There’s something weirdly uncomfortable about the experience of desire, and it’s much deeper than a want or a need. Desire is this intense, hyper awareness that you don’t have something that would be really beautiful to have and experience. Sarah Jarosz’s song Fuel the Fire explains it perfectly, “Let fulfillment fuel the fire>>>hide the emptiness inside>>>we all cover up desire>>>learn to face it with our pride.”

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Why I Encourage Questioning Religion
I was raised to be religious and now I’m not. Well, I’m kind of not. I’m like, “Catholicish” now or maybe “Catholic-adjacent”? Every once in a while Mass is nice to go to; Jesus is cool but maybe not in a divine way; and Catholic social teaching is fascinating. But the status of my religiosity is complicated. This Catholic/not Catholic journey is an ongoing conversation with myself filled with a lot of questioning.

Many within the Catholic Church are wondering why young people are leaving. St. Mary’s Press decided to research, to ask, and to listen to young people rather than surmise. I appreciate being asked to share my story with them, and you can check out my interview. During our conversation, I spoke about my experience growing up in the church and how I’ve gradually—though not completely—dissociated with it.
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How to Remember Who You Truly Are

I forget. I return. I forget. I come back.

I just meditated, and now I’m starting to write. I feel buzzy and lovely and good at the moment, but there are so many times that I forget how good I am. I don’t even want to say the words, but those times I feel mucky, yucky, and overwhelmed. I get confused and don’t know where I’m going in life. But right now, after a utilizing the tool of meditation I feel connected and tuned-in to the love within me.

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Does God Exist and Does it Matter?
I was at a recovery meeting, and there was a gentleman, I’ll call him Ned, with 17 years of sobriety who talked about how he is an atheist who prays. He even uses the word God for his higher power, but he doesn’t believe God exists. I was like, “Whoa! What? I’ve never heard anyone say this before.” Ned said a power greater than himself is an acknowledgement that Ned isn’t the center of the world. For him, God isn’t a celestial being or divine inspiration, but the method or the action of detaching from selfishness. I’ve been reflecting on this perception of God, and I admire this no-frills, no-bull understanding of a higher power.
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Rachel Schmidt, Spiritual Life Coach >>> P.O. Box 56062 Washington D.C. 20040 >>> rachschm@gmail.com
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