Jeffrey Pipes Guice

New Orleans
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Personal Essay: My Higher Power

Today, I’m a simple man with simple thoughts, but this wasn’t always the case.
When I was a child I attended Catholic grammar school. As a young boy, Sister Mary Marcella would tell our class that God was everywhere. I often asked her “but Sister, how can God possibly be everywhere?” And she would answer “because He just is. He’s even inside you.” To which I would curiously ask, with all the sincerity that a young boy could muster, “but where exactly is He? I don’t see Him. How could He possibly be in me?”
Feeling that I was asking my genuine questions out of childish insubordination and defiance, she would order me to the front of the room where, with my back to my fellow classmates, she would sternly demand that I stare straight ahead at a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother lovingly holding the Christ Child, as Sister Mary would begin to beat me repeatedly with her 36” wooden pointer until I finally cried into submission. While my backside was indeed feeling the pain of these almost daily beatings, my curiosity continued to flourish. I truly wanted to know the answers.
One Sunday evening, I was watching the Disney movie “Pinocchio” with my younger brother Pete, when I misheard Jiminy Cricket tell his lying little puppet friend to simply let your conscience be your God. After hearing these magical words of wisdom, I felt the older brotherly urge to inform Pete that our conscience is actually God inside our bodies. Pete quickly responded in an indignant tone “that’s not what he said, stupid. He said conscience be your guide” as I suddenly realized that maybe this is what Sister Marcella was trying to say the whole time. Then I punched Pete as hard as I could, just to remind him who was boss.
It wasn’t until later on, when I saw the movie “Animal House” that I fully grasped the concept of real consciousness, and the two sides of my very own personal challenge and daily struggle with my own two sides of good and evil, right and wrong. Now it was finally starting to make sense.
I had to come to terms with why I actually enjoyed the excitement of doing things the wrong way, on purpose, when I knew the difference perfectly well, added to the painful aftermath of my choices. Obviously, that evil enforcer Sister Marcella is still always with me, pointer in hand, just waiting to swing.
I had to know the answers as to why I had to complicate so much of everything in my life. Was it simply a misfiring of my brain? Were my own confused dopamine pathways, which played a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior or was I truly just a bad person, as Sister Macella and my parents and everyone else always told me throughout my life? Why couldn’t I just be normal? Why couldn’t I just simply fit in? Why couldn’t I simply connect with people?
No matter how hard I tried the results were always the same - loneliness and eventually depression.
I learned very early on, at around the age of twelve, that drinking beer made me feel more relaxed and somehow more popular. This was especially true with older kids, especially with thirteen and fourteen year old girls. The more the girls drank, the friendlier they became with me. This little attraction didn’t go unnoticed with the older guys in my neighborhood.
But as every quid pro quo relationship, the moments were always short but sweet, at least until the beer was gone. Because I really didn’t have the money, or the maturity, to continue the relationships, they would always dissolve and I would be left alone, yet again.
This would happen over and over again throughout my life, affecting friendships and marriages and jobs and family.
It wasn’t until I was 49 years old, divorced and without much to look forward too, other than being an absent father, that I suddenly realized that I needed to look within and somehow find direction. Before I could truly move forward, I had to come to terms with my own conscience and my own moral compass.
It was at this point that I turned within myself to analyze my own inventory of God-given tools. I realized I needed balance in my life -spiritual, mental and physical balance- and that everything else would simply fall into place.
Today, I have a Higher Power. His name is God and He provides the necessary balance in my life. I sometimes refer to Him as My Heavenly Father or My Sweet Lord, depending upon my moods and my level of consciousness.
My Higher Power also has a feminine side, kind of like a wife. Her name is Mother Nature. Even though I meditate with my Higher Power on a regular basis, I know that His wife really runs all things physical. And never, and I mean never, try to fool Mother Nature.
Together, they help guide me through the spiritual, physical and emotional aspects of my journey. They help me make good, well thought out decisions. They give me the strength to handle everyday personal challenges, not only with myself, but with my family, friends and strangers.
My thoughts are much less confusing. My life and my needs are much simpler now. I now understand that God is truly everywhere. He is definitely within me.

© 2020 Jeffrey Pipes Guice
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