Does your religion help you be a better human being?
I can say with all certainty that it does. When I find myself struggling to choose what is the proper action to take, what is the most compassionate of my choices, or what is the kindest of paths to follow, my faith guides me. It motivates me to assist others and to see the goodness in them. It encourages me to be an optimist, especially when life is at its hardest. My religion helps me to be courageous when I am struggling with terror. It helps me to be self reliant, but also willing to accept help when I am in need of it.
Most of all, my religion helps me along the path to self knowledge and self actualization. It encourages me to continue my quest to know the truth of the world and to be a force for positive change. I can see how I could do all these things on my own but my religion assists me in these actions and helps me to teach these positive things to my children. And I am firmly of the mind that I am here to leave the world a better place then it was when I was born, even if it is in some small way.
Have you ever had dreams or visions sent by the gods?
In a word, yes. At one point, someone described me as unhinged, but in a good way. God-bothered is a phrase that gets thrown around on a semi-regular basis. I have such dreams and visions on a regular basis. Some have brought me great comfort and others have challenged me significantly. And still others have confused me and left me wondering what their meaning might be.
Sometimes, I grow afraid of how much I am 'in tune' with the psychic elements of the world. I engage in reality testing to an almost vicious extent. I carefully examine my psychic input and probe its validity often. Some would say that I doubt this but it is less a case of doubt and more a matter of making certain that what I experience is truly psychic phenomena rather then wish fulfillment or signs of mental illness.
Having experienced psychosis, there is a distinct difference in tone and content between what is illness and what is truly psychic insight. At the same time, I struggle with times where I question the validity of my experiences. These lapses of faith usually come when I am in the midst of deep depression and my faith in myself has been severely shaken. I have no words for how thankful I am that the depression lifts and I find myself more fully able to believe in what I experience.
It is my goal to cultivate my faith in myself and what I experience so that even when I am in the grips of deep depression and the unhealthy thinking that comes with it, I will still be able to keep some semblance of that faith. It is, however, an ongoing task that takes a great deal of effort.