The loneliest moment in your life is not when you lose friends, family, or things. You are loneliest when you are away from, unaware of, or missing part of yourself… your own soul.
You are most lonely and depressed when you have forgotten who you are. Because of this – I call it “spiritual amnesia” – we have become transient souls, all-but-spiritual vagabonds seeking our own Self, our forgotten Self, the one we somehow and somewhere mislaid or misplaced and in some cases, replaced with the impostor. Eckhart Tolle says in his book, A New Earth: “In the seeing of who you are not, the recognition of who you are emerges.”
Most of our values, evaluations, responses, actions, and reactions are based primarily on what we believe about ourselves. Unfortunately, what we believe about ourselves is based on somebody else’s opinion that’s been handed down to us. We spend most of our time impersonating who we think people think, want, or expect us to be and in the process we either forget or never encounter who we really are. And when we don’t know who we are, everyone else becomes a stranger – a frightening, intimidating and threatening stranger – even those we love and who we believe love us.
You are lonely and/or lonesome because you somehow lost or perhaps forsook the real You and indeed the Only You, for the impostor, the mutant, the impersonator. You forsook the truth (accurate reality) for the lie (the imprecise, the inaccurate, the non-exact) and now you are feeling vexed and vulnerable to and by the absurdity and inauthenticity of the obnoxious illusion you have become both to yourself and to others. It is a false sense of isolation, alienation, lack, and self doubt.
How do I know this? Because I’ve been there.
You May Remember
It was 1996. Rwandan refugees – weak, starving, and homeless – were returning to their homeland two years after the country’s massive genocide. Watching them on the television screen from the comfort of my easy chair, I was moved to despair. As a Pentecostal minister, I pledged to save as many souls for Christ as I possibly could in my lifetime. But this staggering challenge to reach hundreds of thousands of Rwandan souls certainly seemed insurmountable. I went to the only place I knew I could find an answer.
“God,” I prayed, “how can you call yourself loving and allow these people to suffer so desperately and then just suck them into hell?” I trusted I would hear the voice of God; it had never failed me before. And, of course, I did.
“Is that what you think I’m doing?”
“They need to be saved,” I entreated, assuming they weren’t Christians.
“Go save them.”
“I can’t save all of them!”
“Precisely,” I heard God say. “You can’t. That’s what we did. We’re not sucking them into hell, can’t you see they’re already there? In your religious presuppositions, you keep creating hell for yourselves and others. I’m taking them into My presence.”
That’s when I got it. God did not create hell. Hell is man’s invention, not God’s intention.
We create hell for ourselves and each other on this planet, I came to realize on that fateful evening. So the God I had been preaching about had to be a monster to take people forever into the customized torture chamber we call hell.
Then came the kicker: I realized that everyone is already saved. Jesus died for everyone. Everyone. Even you. Especially you! Believe it or not.
I knew my ministry was about to undergo a radical change.
I Once Was Lost...
But it hasn’t been easy. As I turned 50, I found myself in the midst of a dark night of the soul. Unable to accept the new Good News I began to preach, my congregation of more than 6,000 dwindled to a handful. I lost my staff. I went deeply in debt to a building and to church commitments that I could not fulfill. My wife, Gina, and I had two children to support.
Most painfully, I was cast out of my beloved evangelical community, who accused me of blasphemy. The largest publication in Charismatic media ran negative articles about me every month for an entire year. I was formally labeled a heretic.
Enmeshed in personal and professional devastation, I turned, as I always did, to the example of my Master Teacher, Jesus Christ.
Most people know you from your past. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am? What’s the word on the street?” Even those he loved could only see his past – they had no forward perception, they didn’t see his Christology.”
I made the decision to step out of my past and begin a ministry of love and inclusion, starting with myself. If I can love me even though it looks like my world loathes me, I can love those who loathe me, and others who feel loathed.
And Now I Am Found
Now I am preaching the God I know: a God who would never condemn anyone to burn in mythical fires of hell. I am preaching that when we stop believing in hell, we will stop creating it in our own lives. I am preaching about an Infinite, Massive, Ultimate Power, a God I cannot define, because I, as finite, cannot define infinity. I am preaching to you: the prodigal son or daughter who is longed for and welcomed home and wrapped in the open arms of Love.
We are recreating our ministry in downtown Tulsa. New Dimensions Worship Center is reaching hundreds who come to worship on a Sunday afternoon in our borrowed space in Trinity Episcopal Church. We reach countless more through our streaming online services. We’ve attracted national attention as media has picked up the story of my revelation.
I want you to know that we are all saved by the sacrifice of Christ - gays, Muslims, Jews, atheists, everyone. I have written a book to share my vision of inclusive faith in action. The Gospel of Inclusion proclaims that God is not a Christian, but belongs to all humankind. I have diligently researched the answers to my questions and rest my case for this new evolution of consciousness. Read the book and decide for yourself. You can order your copy now from Amazon.com.
Love in Christ,Carlton