In “Conversations with God, Book 1,” by Neale Donald Walsch, God says, “If there was such a thing as sin, this would be it: to allow yourself to become what you are because of the experience of others.”

This is such an amazing piece of information! On the surface it says, not to take anyone else’s word for anything. Parents, teachers, preachers all try to fill our heads with notions. Even when our experience differs from what they say, we are reluctant to make them wrong.

It goes further, though, in saying that we use what others say to define who and what we are. That I’m only a “good writer” if X number of people approve of me. Or I make X number of dollars. The truth is, no one else can decide if I am being true to myself. No one else’s judgement defines how I write or what kind of writer I am. In the end it is my evaluation that counts.

I watched a Biography of Johnny Depp. The thing that‘s always struck me about Johnny is that he doesn’t let anyone define him. He has always taken the roles he wanted, not the roles that would make him the famous or wealthy. And then he just pours his heart and joy into his work. Whether it is being a musician, an actor or a father, his love of what he does shines through. When people tried to define him, he acted out or took a role that surprised everyone and shattered what they thought they knew about him.

I believe we can all more fully express who we are if we keep our own counsel. Make our own decisions about what’s important, what we believe, what our standards are.

In “Conversations with God,” God tells us that we can’t sin against a God who has everything. If He has no need for us to be or do anything in particular, how can He deem one thing wrong and one right. Commandments are like guidelines for how we can live more peacefully with each other – something we all say we want to do.

To say so clearly that the only way we can sin is to dishonor our own experience is too profound for words. Not everyone agrees with this. But surely we can see how powerful it can be to live this way.