Our toughest moments can help us reconsider what we are looking for in life. After a year of losses, Pamay began to look in a new direction. Through a year-long journey to find faith and hope, Pamay was able to understand and accept what she lost and was able to regain a sense of her identity.
They say God never gives you more than you can handle. Well, 2009 apparently was my year to be tested.
In April, my only living grandmother died unexpectedly.
In August, my father died after a long illness due to prostate cancer-related complications.
Additionally–as if this was not enough–when the year ended, the most significant romantic relationship of my life also ended. Saying goodbye to someone I loved a great deal in the middle of all this loss just made everything that much worse. When the New Year began, I wondered how I could possibly heal from all my pain.
Healing came through a process I call “My 52 Weeks of Worship” project. Realizing that I needed a stronger spiritual foundation to lean on during times of adversity, I took inspiration from Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God” and decided that every week I would visit a different place of worship–whether that place of worship reflected my religious tradition or not.
Throughout 2010, I visited 61 churches, mosques, synagogues, shuls, covens, temples and living rooms — located across the U.S., Mexico, the UK, Nigeria, and South Africa.
When I started this journey I was emotionally and spiritually drained. I used this project as a way to rustle up some hope and optimism for my future, rather than dwelling on the pain, regrets, and sadness from my past, and/or looking for quick, ineffective, or self-destructive fixes to deal with my grief and loss.
In all of these different places of worship, I stood shoulder to shoulder with people of different faiths. We prayed for each other. I honored the memory of my father, who throughout his life worshipped as a Christian, while studying all manners of faith, religion, and creed to discover the meaning of life and his place in it. I honored his search for truth, as well as my own. Many times throughout this process I received a sign from my father that he was with me in spirit and in my heart, every step of my journey.
Throughout the year, I soaked in the kindness of strangers. There was something wonderfully comforting about walking into a new place of worship, knowing that people were there on that day to stand before God, however they perceived Him or Her to be, to help them endure whatever life challenges they faced that day, week, month or year. They were contributing their energy to fight their own battles and encouraged me to fight mine.
And the love! In every single service, there was a time that visitors were welcomed, prayed for and hugged. The kindness of strangers sustained me, and continues to be a source of strength.
My “52 Weeks of Worship” allowed me to once again consider myself as a woman of faith and to forge a spiritual foundation that helps me each and every day.
See how Pamay answers our Identity Five Questions:
1. What have you accepted within yourself and/or within your life? Is there anything you are working on accepting?
I have accepted that my life has not unfolded exactly the way that I thought it would. From that acceptance, I have had the realization that the best way for me to be happy to is to stay in the moment, appreciate the people in my life, and the experiences I have had and plan to have — focusing on my blessings, rather than what is missing from my life.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself or your life?
I appreciate that I have a spirit of perseverance. Even through some of the difficulties I have faced, I still have hope that life should and will be fantastic.
3. What have you achieved, or what are you working to achieve personally, physically, or mentally?
My “52 Weeks of Worship” project has been one of my most meaningful achievements. I appreciate that it continues to remind me to remain grateful, strong, and hopeful about the future.
4. What is your no-so-perfect way? We are all unique with quirks and imperfections, so why not flaunt them and embrace them! Everything affects me!
I can be emotional and passionate, and have to work hard at managing my emotions so that I control them, rather than having them control me. I also realize that patience is not my strong suit. I am working on becoming more patient!
5. How would you complete this sentence, “I Love My…” This has to be about you, physically or mentally.
I love my smile, my sense of humor, and my ability to laugh and make others laugh.
Find out more about Pamay’s project at www.my52wow.com.