Spring Cleaning My Soul: How I Found God Outside of the Church

By Aishah Divine. Photography By Deun Ivory.

God is love – unconditional love to self and all. I found God within me and outside of me. God, The Divine, The Omnipotent, Allah, Jah, the Universe, it all represents the same infinite Source.

At 33, I have a much different understanding of and relationship with God now, than I did when I was growing up.  I was raised Muslim in the Bronx, New York. My parents were Ghanaian immigrants, my father Muslim and my mother, a Christian.

Every day, I would watch my father pray and sometimes join him to pray Salat five times daily.   To this day, I can still remember “bismillah al-rahman al-rahim….” word for word.

In these formative years, Islam shaped and molded me into an obedient Muslim girl. My name, Aishah, is a Muslim name. My father told me I was named after my grandmother, his mother.  I looked up the definition of the name Aishah and it meant “life.” I also found another definition that I came to like more. While my friends were tagging up their elementary school notebooks with fun, cutesy nicknames, I’d write poetry and sign off with “MOTB,” the acronym for the alternative definition of Aishah, Mother of the Believers.

After my parents’ divorce, my father moved out and my deep connection to Islam seemingly went with him.  My mother had remained a Christian/Methodist and even though she didn’t pressure me to change religions, I was exposed more to Christianity in my father’s absence. Still, I tried my best to remain a Muslim.  Then I went to college and began seeing my first boyfriend. The self-discipline that I  worked my entire life to build up quickly began to evaporate.  

By the time I reached my junior year in college, I had stopped praying Salat, but I still wanted to maintain some form of Islam in my life, so I decided to read the Quran. I read the entire English version of the Quran over the course of that year. I remember two distinct concepts: 1) Muslim men could marry chaste Jewish and Christian women. 2) We should not judge anyone in this world. For all would be judged by God on the Day of Judgment.  As a child, I remember being taught that there was only one ‘right religion,’ but after reading the Quran myself, this along with other teachings were nullified through my own understanding. It sparked something in me that made me want to further explore religion and spirituality on my own terms, outside of what I had been formally taught.

After college, I stopped practicing Islam all together. I would pray to God daily in my bed right before I went to sleep and that was the extent of my prayers . . . a far cry from praying five times a day like I did before, but it satisfied my need for some form of spirituality.  Every once in a blue, my mother would call me and beg me to go to Church with her and I would. On one of those occasions, I traveled with her from Westchester to New Jersey to attend a church service on a Friday night.  The church was in the basement of a building. There were about 20 to 30 people there along with the pastor and his wife. The African Pastor gave a rousing sermon and there were loud Amens, people falling in the aisles left and right and me looking around wondering how my mother had convinced me to come with her to church on a Friday night. Chile.

Just as I was about to think up another alternative Friday night scenario, the Pastor interrupted my thoughts, and called me up to the makeshift pulpit. He proceeded to place his hands on my head, while his wife held my side. I was already cynical about everything while my mother was totally engulfed in the scene.

Then he started praying over me and speaking in tongues with his one hand still placed on my forehead. Before I knew it, I was crying and shaking and had collapsed into tears. The pastor’s wife and my mother collected me up before I could fall flat out on the floor.  I had never experienced anything like this before. I thought about my father and my connection to Islam. I was so confused but relieved at the same time. I knew even though I felt I had gone adrift, God was still there for me and I felt it in my spirit as the pastor prayed over me. From that point on, I was more open to going to Church, whether it was with my mother or with my friends. During the remainder of my 20s, I would attend Church on and off. Though I was never able to reclaim the feeling from that night in subsequent Church settings, when I did attend service, it was still very uplifting.

At around the same time, I began dating a guy, who introduced me more completely to the metaphysical spiritual world. I had always been somewhat interested in studies like astrology, but he put me on to something I’d never really considered.  One night, he asked if I’d ever heard of ‘life path numbers,’ which was rooted in numerology. I didn’t but we looked up my life path number and read the description and suddenly everything clicked.

My lifelong external search for God and the ‘weird things’ that I had experienced internally throughout my life began to make sense. People with my life path number were described as spiritual conduits, those who bridged the divide between the earthly and spiritual plains through a strong intuitive knowing and inspiration.

It was this moment that started me on a path of self-discovery into who I really was as a person.

This journey into my self-exploration took place during my personal year of 7.  Your personal 7-year, is a year where you explore your personal truths and come further into knowing yourself.  During this year, I became more engaged in Astrology, watched more spiritual documentaries such as Wake Up, and took a closer look into my astrological natal chart among other too-much-to-type spiritual goodness.  The natal chart described aspects of  myself that I noticed but could never articulate and furthermore showed me things about myself that I had never experienced before. Then I discovered crystals and their healing attributes. I had a Crystal healing information session on my 31st birthday with friends. I had my first complete Reiki energetic healing done the same day and it felt refreshing. It didn’t quite feel like being in Church or praying Salat, but it did feel like coming more into my authentic self.

After the Reiki healing, the crystals, the exploration of numerology and astrology charts, in addition to praying, I began to meditate on my own.

My first mediations were guided meditations following along with Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-day meditation series.  I found that practicing meditation on my own without the use of a guide was not as simple. But the more I did, the better I became. The key to meditating on my own, was that I first had to address my old childhood wounds and past relationship hurts in order to forgive and let go. Once I had done so, I could finally sit quietly by myself without harmful thoughts finding a way to overtake the silence.

The first time I was able to sit still by myself and be present without any lingering pain or anger within me, I heard God clearly.

It was then that I realized God speaks to us in our own voice, which is why it’s so easy to sometimes miss the message. That voice is our intuition/gut feeling. I realized the ‘luck’ that I had during my childhood into my adult years was really the result of me listening to God’s instructions via my intuition.  When I made this simple connection about intuition and God, everything in my outside world began to shift.

 I finally began listening to the God within me 100% of the time, instead of half the time. I stopped looking for advice from external sources on what I should do with my life and turned inward.  It was then that the feeling that I experienced in Church that one time with my mother, and the knowledge and discipline I had acquired through Islam became integrated within me. I now truly knew what it felt like to be connected to God in every moment.

Since experiencing this spiritual awakening, I’ve experienced synchronicities and supernatural happenings daily.

In the first major synchronicity that initiated this shift, I had a vivid dream and woke up with a number on my mind along with an indescribable feeling of lightness. I texted my friend and told him about the dream and also told him that I felt in my heart that I had finally forgiven my father, who I hadn’t spoken to in a year because of our religious differences. Minutes after declaring that I had forgiven him, my father called me. I screamed out loud in my apartment. It was a miracle. I recounted to my father what happened minutes before he called. I also told him even though I was no longer Muslim, my connection to God was stronger than it had ever been in my entire life, and him calling me, moments after I had consciously forgiven him was a sign from God, that I was on the right path and I was more determined than ever to continue on this path. There was more small talk and then he ended the call. That was the last time I spoke to my father three years ago. But I have talked to God every day since then.

There’s been many a magical, supernatural experience that has happened over the past three years that have revealed to me that God is within each and everyone of us and you can hear and see God If you become present in each moment and pay attention to what’s being said (and what isn’t).

Nowadays outside of religion, I look to the simple beauties like nature to remind me that God is always at work and is ever-present. I used to believe you could only find God in religion. While I am grateful for Islam and Christianity for providing the foundation of my spirituality, I now know God/Universe/Divine can be found and experienced everywhere.

God has armies of people and tools spreading the good word daily, who speak from ‘pulpits’ in different mediums. People like Doreen Virtue, Deepak Chopra, Lee Harris Energy, Infinite Waters and m ore “real people gurus” like ThatGirlhas, TatiannaTarot, Magic Mike of Astrolada, Kaypacha Lescher, StarsMoonandSun and many others who embody and spread divine wisdom in online spaces outside of formalized religion.

Every morning after giving thanks for waking up, I call upon and thank my angels, spirit guides, and God for their assistance and I set an intention and affirmation before going about my normal workday. This practice, not based in any religion, makes up a good deal of my daily ‘spiritual walk/process.’  Throughout the day, I experience synchronicities that reinforce the Divine theme or intention for the day. Every night, the day’s happenings come into focus as I look at the bigger picture, reminding me that we’re all connected on earth and we’re all One.

As I type this, I’m listening to a sound healing binaural beats frequency on Youtube and the screen says ‘Jesus The Healer.’  Jesus was revealed to me as one of my spirit guide’s last year. My ancestors visited me in a dream last March, almost to this exact day, to inform me to praise Jesus. Since then, I’ve also come to experience the presence of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Goddess Oshun, Divine Mother Sophia and more in my life.

As I listen to my inner GPS, God’s voice, the universe opens up doors and creates abundant blessings, which show up in various forms.

I’ve noticed that some of the spiritual keys to recognize these blessings are to be present, have faith, believe and take responsibility for creating the life we want, and then follow through with the work needed to create it.

Through my rebel religion, I’ve seen that my power comes from within, not from a Church or holy book.

The only person that has the power to create the life I want to live is . . . me. We all have God within us, so this is perfectly doable. Yes, inspiration comes in the form of people, books, etc., but when we love ourselves fully and completely, recognizing our good and shadow elements and learn how to balance the two, we are more capable of achieving anything we put our minds too and set our divine intentions on.

Through my rebel religion, I’ve realized we can live a more Godly life based on love and kindness to all, regardless of how someone looks, acts, or chooses to live. The more we choose love over hate and the more we forgive, and let go of judging others, the more we can be kind and compassionate. When we realize there are good and bad days and we are not being “punished,” we’re only learning valuable lessons that will help us along the journey of life, the easier it is to find and work with God/The Universe within us, who guides us by giving us ALL the intuitive clues along the way.

In my rebel religion, I’ve learned that life is a constant cycle of change. If we continue to do the work, while practicing our own “spiritual walk,” which may not look the same for everyone, and acknowledge God as the infinite Source of power above and within (as above, so below; as within, so without), the easier it will be to recognize and manifest our blessings and be even more thankful for the gift of life.

I found God outside of the Church and the Mosque and located God within me. I learned to love myself and in turn love God wholly (holy) and completely.

I’m living a human existence but I see myself as an infinite spirit capable of anything. I have overcome many fears, doubts and obstacles and I continue to persevere with the eternal source of Godlight within.  I am grateful for this channeled letter from the Divine and pray this message has reached your heart.

Wishing all who read this infinite love, healing, joy, kindness and more life.

And so it is.

God Bless You.

Aishah Divine is a divine life lover, a creative and the Founder & Executive Director of VisionPledge.org. She is located in Brooklyn, New York and contributes to BGIO because she loves and supports everything that BGIO stands for -- Aishah is all about Black Girl Empowerment, Peace, Joy, and Magic! Her top self-care practices include: praying & meditating, kickboxing, eating a balanced diet, sea-salt baths, sunlight/nature/park walks, following inspirational people on social media, keeping informed on astrology, numerology, tarot and other spiritual tools and most importantly listening to her intuition and spirit.