By Jerald Raber, MDI Contributor
I’m actually not sure what “spiritual” means.
What is a spiritual experience? What would it mean to be spiritual? I used to know.
Growing up in the church, I knew what spirituality was. Spirituality was somehow mysteriously being in touch with the Holy Spirit, the results of which were direction for decisions in life, compliance with the church’s rules, and if anything, erring on the side of being more conservative than the rules. One’s beliefs were considered spiritual but only if the beliefs lined up exactly with the church. And certainty was a requirement.
Being spiritual could look like judging another person’s actions as too worldly, sinful, too casual, too much fun. Spiritual was my dad being able to come up with a sermon to preach every Sunday. Being spiritual was praying and reading my Bible every day. If someone had too much fun, had a boat, went to amusement parks, had too flashy of a car, or played volleyball more than once a week they were not spiritual.
As a teenager I knew that I wasn’t spiritual because I thought about sex, noticed girls; boobs and masturbated. I wanted to be spiritual but couldn’t stop thinking about sex! Which was of course forbidden until marriage in our culture. I spent a lot of hours, days and weeks agonizing about my sinful nature and wondering how to squelch it down, repent enough to overcome it and somehow keep myself pure and more spiritual.
Today I find myself in what some would call a spiritual journey. I don’t know if it’s a spiritual journey but it “is” a journey. I am on a journey to discover what is “true” of myself and for myself.
The “church” experience is now part of my past. Certainty is also part of my past. I’m learning to sit comfortably with questions instead of needing certainty. I’ve started looking for answers within instead of looking to some mysterious outside source. When I ask myself if I’m spiritual, I honestly don’t know.
Here’s what I do know.
The moments when I am fully in the present feel like a spiritual experience, but it’s not like I feel connected in that moment to the divine. A long motorcycle ride, an afternoon with best friends on a boat, a walk through the forest with my kids, journaling in the morning with my coffee, and deep conversations with friends all feel like the spiritual experiences of my life.
I still like to think about and experience sex and boobs. It’s good.
Spiritual to me is caring for my own human spirit and soul. It’s starting to listen to my heart instead of the bully of my mind.
It’s finding a therapist to help me overcome the barriers I’ve created to getting the fullness of the life that I want.
It’s taking a stand for myself instead of just being the “nice guy”.
It isn’t pretty. It’s messy. It’s the days where I can hardly get out of bed. It’s also the days I want to run away. And, it’s the new discoveries of just how good life can be.