Farther From the Church, Closer to God

The farther I distanced myself from the church and organized religion, the closer I find myself mingling with the universal energy I call, “God”. The freedom I have felt and the path my life has taken is completely different than what they tell you in church.

Like a majority of people, I was indoctrinated into religion at a very young age. Church was always a big part of my life, especially when I was at my dads.

One of my earliest memories of church was when I was a toddler sitting in chapel watching rehearsal for an upcoming play. All of a sudden a person in a devil costume came walking into church.

My powerful child imagination immediately thought that the actual devil had just walked into the very church I was sitting in. Needless to say, I freaked out, started screaming and ran straight at the person. Five year old Khyle, in the heat of the moment, was determined to slay the devil.

Luckily, my dad stopped me before I could finish the job. THAT is the power of religion on a child’s mind.

There are some fun and important aspects of church that I can’t deny. Worship (singing) was always my favorite part of church. Besides when it went on for what seemed like forever.

Worship played a part in finding my love for singing as a child, like a lot of other singers.

The community feeling of church is really nice. Making friends and learning how to interact with different types of people.

Lessons of perseverance, forgiveness, treating others how you want to be treated are all very important. These experiences increased or decreased depending on the size of the church.

When I compare my experiences from my dad’s little church in San Bernardino, CA to the ones I had at the Saddleback mega-church in Lake Forest, CA, I got more from my time at my dad’s church.

I forgot to mention, my dad is a pastor of a small Spanish speaking church in southern California. I am a pastor’s son. He has been a pastor since I was 10 years old.

Being the pastor’s son at a church where you don’t even speak the language the sermons are given in can be a bit challenging.

Singing worship songs in Spanish was fun.

Hearing my dad at the pulpit passionately preaching in Spanish and people reacting around me was intense and confusing at times. Witnessing the power of my dad’s words move this group of people to chants, tears, prayers and their knees was mind-boggling at a young age.

Up until that point in my childhood he was a regular guy. Then all of a sudden, he was being called pastor and was treated completely different by people. It was difficult to comprehend.

As my resentment grew, so did my questions about Christianity and its “God”.

How did it come into existence? Why must I fear an all loving God? Why would an all loving God want to punish me with eternal damnation? How come kids are dying and starving in Africa? Why wouldn’t he bring my parents back together? Why am I required to attend church? Why does he ask for money? How did Noah get two of every animal from around the world into the ark?

I was having trouble finding the rationale behind any of it. My faith dwindling by the day, I began to find it silly and a waste of time. I wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. I felt like a phony. Pretending to believe because I was the pastor’s son and felt obligated to play the part.

When I was 14, I stopped talking to my dad.

There were a lot of factors that went into that decision. Constantly having to be at church while I was at my dad’s was one of the main reasons. I couldn’t take it anymore. My dad’s decision to let me go, must have been extremely tough, but it also was another sign to me that the Christian God was not real.

We are taught that God has a plan for all of us, he has mapped out most of our lives and apparently for me, that meant not having a two parent household or solid family structure growing up.

How could that be part of the plan from an all loving God? It didn’t make sense to my 14 year old brain and parts of it still doesn’t make sense to me today.

Without my dad in my life and my mom not being able to control me, I had free rein as a teenager. There were times when it seemed like I was on a mission to get as far away from church and God as I could. I did everything you would expect a teenage boy without a father to do.

I somehow didn’t try weed until I was almost 18 thanks to the fear my mom put in me about being kicked out. Other than that, I did whatever I wanted, when I wanted. It was chaos.

Looking back I was out of control, but I was free. The world was my oyster and I was a sadomasochist for the lessons life kept giving me. Once I reached my 20’s, it was like I was determined to discredit Christianity.

I spent so much time watching documentaries and Youtube videos trying to find whatever I could to discredit this religion that had consumed our society. Took notice to how they were trying to force laws into place that represented their beliefs and make anyone who didn’t believe what they did feel as though they were worthless scum bound for hell.

I began to only see the negative aspects of Christianity and the effects it had on people’s minds, judgments, actions.

The more I learned about other religions and their history in my World Religions class at Saddleback College, I couldn’t believe the pattern I was noticing. They are all based off of the same principles with very similar stories about the divine and their messengers.

Acquiring this new information renewed my resentment towards Christianity. “This book has been edited endless amounts of times, most of its teachings can be found in older religious texts, it encourages submission to authority, wars have been waged over a book that’s supposed to be about forgiveness and love” are the kinds of thoughts that raced through my head as I tried to make sense of it all.

Later on, I noticed in my quest to discredit Christianity, I was discrediting myself by acting like the very people I was speaking out against. This moment of clarity caused a giant shift in my mentality. After massive amounts of soul searching, smoking weed and night drives around Orange County, I ended my crusade against Christianity.

Ever since then what has happened in my life has been indescribable.

Moving to Washington and my psychedelic experiences have exploded my mind, consciousness and being. My psychedelic trips allowed me to come to terms with my ideas about God. Which is really cool and a little weird. I have come to know what God is for me and that’s really all that matters.

God is beyond books, institutions, or the human mind. The name, God, for me is now what I call the universal energy we can all feel.

What every religion in the world is attempting to describe and use to mold their own ideologies around. Although, it seems to me, they are getting lost in the translations.

During my psychedelic trips, I was spoken to by other worldly beings.

Religious people may refer to them as angels. These beings spoke to me and even through me at points. Revealing to me that God is nature. The animals, forests, mountains, air, water, everything that humans are destroying represents God.

The Bible teaches that we are shepherds of the Earth, here to protect it and use its resources to live.

Yet, each day that goes by more and more of this beautiful Earth and the very essence of God is being sold for profit.

To me this shows that the hippies and activists are doing more of God’s work than everyday Christians are. Fighting to protect the last remaining parts that are being raped by greed.

I have never been closer or felt the energy of God more than when I was in the Olympic National Forest or experiencing those other worldly voices communicating to me during my psychedelic trips.

The forest is my temple, my refugee, place of worship. It is where I feel the most connected and at ease.

The gratitude and appreciation of life and everything that Ashley and I have comes flowing out of me while I’m amongst the Gods of the forest. The trees, the river rapids, the birds and other forest animals.

My religious experiences come when I am away from the city and the hustle and bustle. Sitting on a huge stump, next to the lake, meditating.

We only have one purpose on this planet and that is to take care of it while we enjoy all it has to offer.

I believe that organized religions had a time and a place in the past. Maybe their purpose was to help certain sects of the human species elevate themselves out of primitive ways of thinking.

Now, we have reached a point where these religious ways of thinking are what’s holding us back from being able to achieve the next level. The way to achieve this next level of consciousness, I believe, is through psychedelics.

Tribal cultures have known these methods for thousands of years and still use them.

The teachings of God are in these psychedelic plants, in nature, go figure. A direct line with way better reception than praying. It’s a clear conversation that is happening in real time.

These plants were put here for us so we could communicate with God.