So, my wife is struggling with her spirituality these days, trying to reconcile how she feels and how she views the world with an upbringing that was fairly fundamentalist in terms of Christian doctrine, even if she herself has always been pretty progressive/liberal in terms of social issues and politics.
This won’t come as any surprise to anyone who follows both she and I on Twitter (and several of you do; for those who don’t, she’s @blackgirlinmain on Twitter and she also has a blog…follow her in both places and I think you’ll be glad you did). She’s been talking quite openly about her spiritual struggles. I’m proud of her for her journey and her explorations and finding the proper path for her.
Because being on a spiritual walk is like any other walk. There isn’t a clear destination. Sure, you may be going somewhere, but even once you get there, the place you’ve reached might not be the perfect place to be. And even if you do like that place, there’s always a need to walk someplace else at some other time, for other needs.
Journeying is exploration, and any person truly seeking spiritual growth will find many different twists and turns; they should never be satisfied that they know it all and have found it all. That would be self-delusion and ignorance.
Thing is that I’ve been on a spiritual journey myself and still am. I came to Christ after years of being a lapsed and “recovering” Catholic, and that was through the woman who would become my wife, and the church she attended, which was presided over by her dad. That being said, while I was never a fundamentalist in any true sense of the word, I did have some beliefs that were more fundamentalist than what I have now.
As I look at some of the earliest posts on this blog, I can see where I have changed and grown. I haven’t changed my path drastically, but there have been adjustments as I grown closer to my soul and to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure more changes are to come.
I might post on this a bit more later this week, but that should do for now.
Just what is a spiritual journey? Not trying to be wise-ass…honest.
And I’ll start by asking (also not being a wise-ass):
Would you be confused if I said I was on “a quest for enlightenment”?
Or, “an exploration of my creative potential”?
Or, “engaged in a search for personal [or professional] fulfillment”?
I suspect you get the idea.
The problem, I think, from your standpoint is that you can relate to creativity, or fulfillment, or enlightenment or a host of other things (as can I), but because you don’t have any firm belief in a spirit or soul or what-have-you, a spiritual journey seems enigmatic.
A spiritual journey is, for me at least, the seeking of a better connection between myself and the divine. Not to become perfect or be special, but because a stronger connection to God makes me feel more complete and stronger and more useful to others. Just as I see my mental capacities and physical capacities as important to maintain, so too do I think my spiritual side needs exercise, upkeep, etc. The specifics of how one does that are as different from persona to person as any other kind of journey to expand awareness and abilities.
Most human journeys of the non-literal sort don’t ever end. We don’t stop learning. We don’t stop trying to be better at things that are important to us. Etc.
And so, too, my spiritual journey will last this entire lifetime, and probably beyond it.
Hello Deacon, good to talk to you again.
I hope you and your family are doing well.
O.K., I can understand going for creative potential and personal/professional fulfillment, but you lose me on a quest for “enlightenment.” Is enlightenment just knowledge or is there a spiritual component?
“…but because you don’t have any firm belief in a spirit or soul or what-have-you, a spiritual journey seems enigmatic.”
I keep searching for spirits, souls, supernatural, etc., but I really can’t find any trace of those things…I’m serious here. I talk to people not only on the internet but in person, I employ questions that I feel are pertinent, but the answers make no sense that I can understand.
“A spiritual journey is, for me at least, the seeking of a better connection between myself and the divine. Not to become perfect or be special, but because a stronger connection to God makes me feel more complete and stronger and more useful to others.”
How does one forge a “better connection” with the divine? What would a “standard connection” be like? How do you perceive God in relation to you? If you had a period of time before you believed strongly…how did that feel in relation to how you feel now?
I have many more questions, but I’ll stop there. I hope that is not too much.
What is a “standard connection” to a friend, or relative, or spouse?
There is no set standard. No more than there is a set standard for job fulfillment.
This is something that is going to vary from person to person.
The fact is I didn’t believe strongly for a long time…I have not ceased to believe strongly since I felt that first spark of connection with my soul and with the divine. The feelings wax and wane in terms of intensity or depth, but that’s the way things are with every other example of personal journeys.
You can look at the physical world and break it down to mechanical part (physics, chemistry, etc.) but love, faith, satisfaction…all these things defy firm definitions and baseline standards. There is no way I can adequately express it to a person who cannot find that faith connection anymore than I can explain what it feels like to be in love with a person who hasn’t been in love or doesn’t really know if they’ve been in love because they don’t know what “real” love is.
I’m not trying to be evasive, mind you. But none of these things can be defined in hard terms. Even if you say that my faith is a product of wishful thinking and simply an imperative of my neurochemicals trying to find an outlet, you could say the same of love. It doesn’t mean love doesn’t exist, but neither can it be defined really. It’s just that you’re more likely to relate to love or fulfillment than you are to spirituality.
Hi Deacon, you must be staying up late.
I can easily define love…love of my family, friends, my favorite food or drink, etc., and I can readily describe it to others in a way that they can understand.
Satisfaction I can also adequately describe to others and myself the feelings involved. Perhaps a cold beer, setting on the porch watching the sun go down after a hard days work. Seeing your child in the school play doing a superb job…well, maybe that’s pride. You understand this I’m sure, many things/feelings in our lives can be verbalized to others and it will be understood.
That faith connection remains elusive however. Knowing that prayer doesn’t work would make me feel really weird trying to use prayer to make a connection. People that try to explain to me the feeling…sound like they are trying to explain love.
YOU can explain and understand love and satisfaction.
That doesn’t mean everyone can.
There are plenty of people who don’t know what either thing feels like, or are so confused that they miss the feelings when they come, because they don’t recognize them.
That was my point, really.
Not that love and satisfaction cannot be defined or experienced, but that they differ for various people, they don’t have a clear & set definition that all agree on, and NOT everyone feels or understands them.
So too it is with spiritual faith.
Speaking with someone who has felt a spiritual connection, two people who’ve experienced that can talk about it because they’ve both felt it.
But put a spiritual person and an atheist together for that conversation, and it will go nowhere.
Just as a person who loves deeply paired with someone lacking emotional affect will not be able to discuss love.
So how does that work? One person having a clear vision of spirituality while one is wobbling with theirs. Interesting.
I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a clear view.
Plenty muddy in my own spiritual journey. The only thing I’m confident of almost 100% is that there IS a spiritual side of life (and afterlife). But I’m stumbling and searching just like anyone else.
Then again, I stumble and search in so many aspects of life…
…just like everyone else.