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Cathy Oda 's Testimonial
Learning to Love Myself
(from the December 1998 Newsletter)

Gary Barlough of the Los Angeles Spiritual Family  
 
Cathy Oda of the Los Angeles Spiritual Family  
 

    Growing up, I tried to be the "good girl" by doing and saying the right things. I felt for my mother having seen how much energy my three older brothers required. I didn't want my parents to have to worry about me. I felt for my brothers, for I felt like they got the brunt of my father's rage. From my mother, who had lost her father when she was nine years old, I was raised with tough love, as that was all she knew herself, and from my father I was raised with conditional love, as that was all he knew. I was so needy for affection and to be loved, in high school I found myself in a very degrading and abusive relationship. After that, I did not feel worthy of God's Love, burdened by the guilt of having committed a "cardinal sin." So great was my guilt that I used to believe that when God looked down upon the congregation in prayer, He wouldn't be able to see me; there would be no one sitting in the space on the pew I occupied. In my heart I felt like an outsider to the church.
     I used to envy my friends who could completely give their whole hearts to Jesus and the Bible, without question. I witnessed their love and devotion and wanted so desperately to be able to do the same, but when I tried, I would feel like a hypocrite. I had so many concerns and questions. Many devoted youth leaders and loving friends tried to address my concerns and questions, but the answers I received never filled up the cavity of despair in my heart.
     I started coming to meditation in May of 1992, led there by a childhood friend. I was a very lonely, needy, and unhappy person. I felt so dirty and unclean, carrying so much baggage from my past. The first time I met Divine Mother, she took me in with open, loving arms. I felt her love and complete acceptance of me. She embraced my heart and told me that I was an orphan who had found a home. From that moment, I knew she knew me, and I knew in my heart this was the path for me. Divine Mother completely abolished the desire to search for God with my mind. This was the beginning of the transformation of my life. With her Love, Divine Mother guided me home to the all-knowing, all-loving God within me.
     Through Divine Mother, God's grace flowed into my heart. Divine Mother taught me how to move from my mind into my heart, to open my heart to God's Love, and to be receptive to the voice of God within. She taught me how to experience life with spiritual ears and spiritual eyes. God gave me the courage to face myself, and I felt free to tell Divine Mother everything because I felt she really knew my heart. In meditation, I saw that I had a deep contempt for myself. Divine Mother taught me how to discriminate the Real from the unreal, and to focus instead on God's Love. She taught me how to be kind to myself, and told me not to seek out rubbish. She also told me repeatedly, to be happy. Since coming onto this path, I have been so much happier with my life.
     Through God's grace, I was spared from despair over two miscarriages which happened within a five month period. The first one happened in August 1995, the day before we were to leave for Hawaii to attend the August celebration. Divine Mother was in my heart, shining so brightly from the very moment I heard the news. The Love and peace that emanated from her embraced me, and allowed me to completely accept this experience. In Hawaii, Divine Mother lifted me up and put me in a spiritual state which kept me centered on God's Love. I was filled with such peace.
     When the second miscarriage happened in December 1995, I felt the strength of Divine Mother within me. Again, I was filled with a peacefulness in my heart, and I knew that God would never forsake me. I could really feel how these experiences were making me stronger. In March of 1997, I was blessed with the birth of a beautiful daughter. Divine Mother has taught me how to share love in ways that are healthy and respectful. I know now that I don't have to perpetuate the dysfunctional ways of relating to my loved ones that I learned as a child. I am glad that my daughter will benefit from the insights, and awarenesses that I have received on this path. I am becoming a better mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I am truly happy in my heart. This path has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I am no longer shrouded in darkness by the overwhelming guilt of my past. I can now experience the joys of life, and am no longer a passive, fearful observer. I am grateful for having been lifted out of the dark, captive caves of my mind into God's Love and peace. I am finding myself, and for that I am truly rejoicing. I can see now how much I used to beat myself up, and I don't do that anymore. I choose now to focus on God's Love. It is through focusing on this love that God prevails. I am so grateful for this transformation.

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