Gettin’ Religion on Spirituality
“Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who’ve already been there.”
I open with that quote because I want to make it clear that this is NOT a post about religion. I’m not interested in talking about what you should or should not believe, what denomination is the “right one,” or whose God is correct. This is a bash-free zone. This post is about what it means to be spiritually connected.
I didn’t grow up with much of a religious or spiritual background. As I came into adulthood, I figured church was a good idea – for other people. I thought I was too broken for God to love me, that I wasn’t living the right kind of life and really didn’t care to make those kinds of changes. It looked like a lot of judgment and shame. No thank you.
With those kinds of messages being a common theme, it’s not surprising that a lot of people feel the same way. Atheism seems to be a popular pick among folks asked to identify their religion. We were all fed someone else’s idea of God – and some of us got a heapin’ helpin’ of scorn from people who said we weren’t living a “Godly life.” These people had appointed themselves as God’s ambassador here on earth, just dying to set us all straight and tell us what we should be doing to “get right.”
I’m here to beg of you: Cast that off. Right now.
Here’s one thing that I absolutely believe: There is no way to cultivate a true sense of serenity, surrender, and inner peace without faith and trust in a power greater than you. You can call that power God, Buddha, Yahweh, Allah, the universe, the human collective. It could be mother nature. It could be the wind, or the sun. It could be a freakin’ pack of turkey hot dogs (though things without expiration dates tend to have better shelf life as a higher power). It is absolutely your belief to own and mold as it fits you. It doesn’t belong to anyone else but you.
In the face of a personal crisis, I began to find the importance of developing a relationship with God. My definition is more closely attuned to the Christian tradition, but remember – that’s MY belief! I was in church nearly every week for about two years, for much of that time lucky to encounter a priest who had a very loving, centered message. He has since moved away, and I miss that leadership, but I still have God, and I actually feel closer to him than ever before.
I’m not a regular church attender anymore, mostly because I have not found another church home to replace the one I miss so dearly. The “human message” got too much in the way at some of the other places I tried. I will also note that my definition of God has changed and grown as I have. At the present time, I don’t need the overwrap of formal ceremony to feel close to God, but I have also very much respected and loved the reverence of that ceremony.
This piece of my spiritual development has been absolutely key to feeling at peace. I feel loved, from both my higher power and myself. I feel supported. I trust that no matter what hard times I’m facing now, it’s all part of the unfolding master plan. I wouldn’t say that I never worry, but I certainly worry a whole lot less.
In short, I stopped centering my faith around other people, and instead centered my faith around God. I had to find my own meaning of God first, and not someone else’s. For me, it’s worked.
What do you do to feel spiritually connected? What is your definition of a higher power?