My therapist once asked me where I thought we went after we died. Before I could think about it, out of my mouth came, “Wherever we really believe we’re going.” This may seem contrary to the certainty of heaven or hell based on how we live, but it’s not really. Many of us have been told since early childhood the list of actions that will carry us to one place or the other after our bodies die. And even if this wasn’t drummed into us, there is enough in life and literature to convince us it’s true.
A dark shadow of fear hangs over many of us, even if we deny it. Is this our conscience? Maybe in some twisted version, it is. Our conscience is our inner wisdom and for those of us raised in a stable environment, it’s lead us through life’s inevitable tests. We may have disappointed ourselves and others, but we learned, asked forgiveness, and moved on.
But what happens to the rest of us? Prolonged abuse of any kind, physical, emotional, or mental, perverts the mind and heart. And if we pay abuse forward, it weighs us down and we know we’re going to hell, even if we tell ourselves it’s not true.
That’s why it’s so important to slow down and take some time for reflection. Do we spend a lot of time in negative thinking? Do we want to change? Do we act out of anger? How do we change? Do we push loved ones away when what we most want is closeness? How can we help them? Life wears at us, especially in these times. It’s tough out there. The solution is to believe in love, to believe in our own goodness and the goodness of life in spite of it all, for believing is the necessary first step to change.
Besides, dark thoughts and actions make hell on earth, never mind what we create for the afterlife. We can change the course of our lives by changing our thoughts, which are reflected in our actions. There is help out there. If we can’t pay for therapy, we can ask a pastor or support group for help, or start in the Self-Help section of a bookstore. If we can’t read, there is someone who will teach us. We only need ask. But first and last, and in the middle, too, we can ask God for guidance. If these prayers come from deep within our hearts, they are answered. Prayer is a waste of breath unless we mean it.