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The Clergy and Religious
Specialty Group


Rev. Jeremy Ashton

SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY
 

    Today I can receive, even in the midst of considerable challenges, a peace and power from God that once seemed inaccessible. On the way there, though, many walls had to break down- and open up. 
 
     I see my journey now as a process of coming to believe, to borrow the 12 step phrase, that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. And for me, it is also a process of coming to believe this Power can restore – save, change, deliver – anyone. God leads me to believe His promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, to write His law on all hearts. This also was to be a healing of my compulsion to teach, to try to sell others on what I did not fully have myself.  
 
     It was easy for me to want to teach, because I was always ahead of the pack. I was into the music of India before the Beatles, into blues before the Rolling Stones appeared, and aware of literature and philosophy that questioned all traditions. As a follower, in the sixties, of several New Age practices, I was gifted to pray and meditate. Without drugs, I could attain states that required LSD in others. These gifts were shattered by (what I now understand to be) certain acts of God in my life. 
 
     I did not clearly realize it at the time, but such endeavors are dependent on the spirit involved. You could say, though I did not know it, I was shopping for spirits. Eventually I would meet and recognize the indescribable qualities of the Holy Spirit, but I was to go through a lot of losses first. 
 
     For example, I remember smoking marijuana in the early seventies, and how its effects put me in touch with the great well of pain within, and how I wanted to run from this. Yet, I did not entirely want to run. As an admirer of John Lennon, I was intrigued by his journey into primal pain with Arthur Janov (“The Primal Scream”). I wanted and I sought my own primal scream, believing that one giant catharsis would set me free. 
 
     But it would take years of uncovering for me to begin accepting the reality and pain of being a person without any emotional or spiritual parenting. In several ways, I was emotionally stuck back in early childhood. I was not going to experience my real primal scream until my forties.  
 
     Eventually, ten years of full commitment to a certain New Age path reached its exhaustion. It was not giving me emotional freedom. I was still afraid of people, and still hungering for love. I knew there was one Creator of all, so I said: 
 
God of all things, whoever you are, show me Your way. 
 
     Around the same time, in a dream, Jesus appeared and without judging offered me two ways - my path or His. In the dream I chose His. I still followed New Age in my waking life though. This cracked when job stress pushed me to the point of wanting either death or any other way out I could find. I knew enough people who followed Jesus, so I at last broke down and prayed the prayer to accept Jesus. This was not a noble choice. I just wanted escape from the terrible fear and stress.  
 
     Being compulsive about teaching, I found myself in ministry long before I was ready. A modern seminary was a great place for me to project my hidden unbelief. Yes, I was a Christian who did not believe and did not know he did not believe. I bridled at all the signs of apostasy at the seminary- dislike of testimonies, of miracles- and even denial of the Resurrection. But it is easy to avoid the absence of a sense of gut-level love from God - easy to avoid this by noticing ways others “do not believe.”  
 
     I also needed, therefore, to learn to be more authentic. My spiritual journey has taken me to two Master’s degrees, and I count myself as an alumnus of the Twelve Steps, Alanon, AA and Codependents Anonymous, inner child retreats, the Hoffman Process (
www.hoffmaninstitute.org), La Hacienda Treatment Center (http://www.lahacienda.com/), Beginning Experience (www.beginningexperience.org), Cursillo, and the Shalom movement (www.shalommountain.com). In these places I found family, met my inner child, expressed real feelings, felt love, wept and laughed.  
 
     Strangely, while these movements blessed me, I also maintained my connection with the formal church. Being a minister in the Presbyterian Church allowed me to find some of the religious conflicts in my ancestral roots, sources of hidden doubts about God. In the Association of Christian Therapists there has been an ongoing bringing to Jesus for healing some of these religious difficulties. ACT helped me in this journey of religious reconciliation, as I found ways we (of different Christian traditions) could pray through aspects of these, and how we could forgive one another within ACT for religious misunderstandings. ACT also helped me find that longed-for mothering from God through Mary, which is for me a rich, deep and ongoing healing. 
 
     And this is my healing. Meditation has now been restored to me. To a New Ager, meditation tends to be techniques applied to one’s own consciousness. You learn, for example, how to energize your “chakras” (body-soul energy centers). But think of it: a baby is getting this from Mother without the baby having any training in techniques. I don’t have to do anything to my “chakras”- it is done for me with a heart-to-heart relationship. God is a real, personal, presence. Even in this moment, as I write this, I can feel the love of God in my heart without any need to know anything whatsoever. And, after praying through many ancestral religious and ethnic conflicts (“generational healing”), I now feel far less need to prescribe how anyone else may find that beautiful, healing contact that is present for me every day.

Note: To learn more about Rev. Jeremy Ashton's journey, please see:  
www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IOgOFc4bMg&feature=related

For more information, please contact: 
Clergy and Religious Chair
Sister Betty Igo, SFP, M Ed, MS


 

 
 
Copyright © 2012 The Association of Christian Therapists. All Rights Reserved.

 
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