Heaven and hell

From a restless childhood in church pews to spiritual awakenings, this journey explores the contrast between religious confines and the freedom of spiritual exploration. Discover a path from internal torment to self-empowerment and inner peace.

Childhood church experiences

Seated on the blue colored fabric of the pew with my family, I swung my small legs back and forth to ease my restless energy. I could vaguely hear the murmurs of a person speaking in the background. My attention, however, was elsewhere, lost in daydreams of the donut awaiting me once the mass would be over.

Suddenly, the movement of my sister standing up jarred me from my thoughts. It was time to go. As we walked out of the building, joy and relief rushed through me as we stepped out into the sunlight of the morning. Before walking to our car, the adults of the congregation stood around talking. While I waited with my siblings, my eyes gazed around at the trees and up to the sky, a smile on my face truly appreciating the freedom I was experiencing after being trapped inside.

When my parents finished their conversation a surge of excitement filled me. I walked as fast as my legs would take me to the car, taking our seats, driving to the shop, and bringing the pink box of donuts home. The ordeal of the church service was over and I was now getting my reward. While eating the donut at the kitchen table, I contemplated that as delicious as the sweet pastry was, it did not make up for the pain that was suffered. And with a sinking feeling, the realization that I would be returning to the building again the next Sunday and many more Sundays to come left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Religious upbringing and inner turmoil

I was the youngest of six children, born to religious parents. Throughout my childhood I attended mass every Sunday, as well as attending Catholic school from Kindergarten to High School. And although I had been immersed in this religion from a young age, I always felt like an outsider.

I remember a particular school day vividly. I was seven years old sitting amongst my classmates during a mass sermon. I was looking up at the statue of Jesus hanging on a cross and a feeling of dread engulfed me. I felt I had done something wrong and at that moment I was being judged. I didn’t understand what I was being judged for. But I believed that if I didn’t follow the rules or be good, then I would have a difficult life.

These thoughts were very overwhelming and lonely as a child. I had so many questions and I was hoping for answers. But they were never revealed to me during this time. I never found the courage to bring up my questions or doubts to my parents or teachers due to the fear of repercussions. Looking back, I wonder if the fear not only arose from the potential backlash from the adults in my life, but also the terror of being found out and having my soul damned by a higher power. The foundation where I was supposed to find my peace was my personal hell. Instead, I found my heaven in nature.

Nature’s personal sanctuary

Camping trips with my dad and siblings were some of my earliest joyful memories. We would wake up before dawn, get breakfast, and make the long drive to the mountains. Staring out the window, I would watch the trees and moss-covered boulders pass by. I felt a sense of coming home. At the time, I did not consciously understand that the trees were welcoming me back. But I always felt a wave of comfort and protection.

The trees not only brought me a sense of peace, but also ignited my imagination. The imagination that was stifled in my daily life came alive when I returned to the mountains. I would envision magical beings hiding behind the huge rocks just out of sight, and stories about fairies and Hobbit adventures.

Searching for identity

As time passed, I found myself enrolled at my local community college. During this period, I had distanced myself from attending mass or following any particular religion.

While it seemed like I had gained freedom, I felt a sense of being lost. Without the structured framework of religion to provide me with a sense of identity or belief system, I struggled with uncertainty about who I truly was and what I believed in. The religious upbringing I had known had instilled a sense of apathy within me. It taught me not to question but to accept the teachings and stories that had been told to me throughout my childhood. I had clung to the notion that if I simply behaved nice towards others and remained a good person, my life would automatically be filled with happiness and everything would fall into place. Now, without that religious guidance, I wondered how the course of my life would unfold.

Several years later, I was married and had just given birth to twins. I was content in my life. But things took an unexpected turn after experiencing Post Partum Depression and Anxiety. By this point I considered myself a spiritual person, believing in a broader concept of a creator through energy rather than following any specific religious doctrines. Yet, this perspective remained unexplored for me. I still faced unanswered questions, uncertain about where to seek the truths I craved. The fear of questioning, deeply ingrained from my childhood, had held me back. However, the challenging beginnings of motherhood pushed me to finally begin going within myself. I was committed to discover what would resonate as truth for me.

The beginnings of a spiritual awakening

In moments alone, I began the practice of meditation. I would find comfort in the stillness and calm of contemplating about the world, the universe and my purpose in it. I began asking the angels and spirit guides for help. And while I didn’t hear any reply, these peaceful moments became my refuge. Although I had this new routine, along with other supportive resources that were implemented to help with the anxiety and depression, I was still drowning. The overwhelming feeling of motherhood, trying to be a good wife, and showing up perfect in society was too much.

One night, I begged the universe to give me some hope to stay in this life crying out, “When was it going to get better?!” The powerful response rang through me. “Soon,” it said. It was the first time I heard a reply. The clarity and certainty of the voice surprised me. I clung to the word, “soon” like a lifeline. Buoying me and filling me with hope to keep going. Within a month, the darkness cleared and I began feeling joy again. That experience was when I realized there was much more to be revealed. I felt a pathway opening up and was eager to learn more.

I would wake early in the mornings to my children’s delighted laughs and smiles and explored parks with colorful play structures and trees dancing in the wind. I created a place of love and safety for my children and myself. On weekends, I would attend yoga classes, catch up on my reading (usually a spiritual book) and hike in nature. I had begun watching past life regression videos.

I believed in the idea of reincarnation, and I had heard the term before, but I didn’t truly understand what it meant. The videos of people going through personal experiences from a past life: the life as a humanoid on another planet, the experience of living in ancient Egypt, the trauma of being murdered or committing atrocious acts to others and how those memories infiltrate your current life. The dawning of this concept ignited me and I began watching hours of these videos. I became overcome with the emotion of realizing something I hadn’t even known I’d forgotten. The truth resonated within me, prompting the question, “How could I have overlooked something so important?” This remembrance filled me with immense gratitude and relief.

Embracing spiritual freedom techniques

I soon wondered where I would go now, and how would I heal these past life traumas? I began searching for a spiritual healer to help me. After a couple years of following teachers that all led to dead ends, I watched a video about a shaman and energy healer. I was immediately amazed at the truth she was speaking. She explained that her Spiritual Freedom Technique (SFT) entails repeating a phrase while tapping on your body to release core past life issues. I was so excited. I knew that this would lead me to the answers and truth I was looking for.

Connecting with Jen Ward, having private sessions, group workshops, reading her books, and being a part of the Jenuine Healing Community has helped me to release lifetimes of pain, suffering, loss and unworthiness. Shedding these heavy layers has revealed the dynamic, sovereign being I envision myself. Finding my truth, loving and accepting all sides of myself has guided me into becoming an empowered mother to my children.

A new perspective on motherhood and freedom

Reflecting back on the little girl in the church pew, I look at my children now at seven years old and I am so grateful that I won’t be inflicting onto them the torture that I experienced. Instead of being confined in an archaic building, they can be free to play in nature among the trees that is our heaven.

Angela Sloskey Avatar

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