Question with Patricia Grell, B.Sc., M.Div.: Trustee, Edmonton Catholic School Board (Ward 71)

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: For young people transitioning out of a faith or a strong adherence to a faith based on a traumatic experience or a disenchantment with it or simply it’s not for them anymore, as you have experienced as an adult; what kind of advice can you give for younger people aged under 35 who may or may not have figured themselves out yet but are still going through similar experience?

Patricia Grell: I don’t think I figured myself out yet either! Do we ever? [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Grell: I think our whole lives we’re trying to figure ourselves out and maybe on our deathbed we’ll say, “Yeah, I think I got it now,” [Laughing]. But I would suggest that these young people find someone like a confidant or someone that they can talk to work it through.

I found someone who had gone through the same experience and was a great support to me. This person used to be a Mormon. I thought of him as a midwife, a psychic midwife helping me be born out of this previous life and this previous way of existing and thinking. He helped me along by saying “It’s okay. Your feelings are perfectly natural and normal. I felt the same way and it’s going to take time. You’re not going to just wake up one day and feel great. It’s going to take time, and so be patient. I am here with you. I’m journeying with you. We’ll just get through these labor pains together. Don’t be hard on yourself”.

So, that’s the core of advice that I would give a young person — try to find someone who’s been there, gone through that. It might be an older person; it might be a person who is the same age, but who’s come out the other side feeling really good, someone who’s made the journey and come to a certain point.

They are a great resource for you. As I say, look for that psychic midwife to help you through it because I really do think this is a psychic evolutionary process. Some people have the privilege of experiencing it in their lives. That really is a privilege. I think some people unfortunately will never get there, will never experience freedom.

If you’re experiencing it, then think of it as a privilege, even though, it’s very difficult. It’s very emotional. It’s the right thing and trust yourself. Trust your inner being, that you’re on the right track because it does need to happen if you want to evolve as a person and become your true self. It’s meant to happen if you’re facing that. It’s meant to happen; don’t go back.

You might be tempted to go back because it feels so painful. I experienced that too. A lot of feelings like “Maybe, I should go back. Maybe, it’s not too late. It would be so much better and easier to just go back.” But with the help of this psychic midwife- friend, I was able to stay on the path to my authentic self.

It’s shedding all of that inauthenticity that we get from religion. We learn not to listen to ourselves, we learn not to accept ourselves, and we get split off from ourselves. So, what I’ve been experiencing is sort of a reunification of myself with myself because we all remember what it was like to be little kids and happy with who we are.

Then we started learning, “Oh! We’re not really that great. We’re sinful. We’re not clean and up to snuff, and we’re not making the mark,” so then we have all that hanging over us. But as we journey away from that way of thinking, we get back to that feeling we had about ourselves when we were young, when we felt good about ourselves. That’s what I am experiencing lately — getting in touch with the wonderfulness of myself prior to getting indoctrinated by a religion focused on sin.

So I would suggest to young people to find a mentor who has made this transition and be open to being reunited with their true selves. I would encourage them to stay hopeful even though it can be extremely difficult to go through this transition.

Jacobsen: One question, one comprehensive answer; I like that one. Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Patricia.