Spirituality For Beginners
In 1982 I admitted that I was an alcoholic and decided to get help. I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous and it helped, but I struggled with the concept of God. When I was young I had stopped believing in God because I did not think he cared for me. He certainly was not answering my prayers.
I also felt abused by representatives of the church who abused me in Catholic school. I also loved people and felt that Christian homophobia was wrong, not to mention the controlling and shame which occurred when I was constantly told that I was going to burn in hell if I was not a “good” girl. After growing up, I tried to be open-minded but I was still an agnostic. I did not believe we could prove God existed so I thought, why bother believing in him? Sometimes I would acknowledge Him behind creation, but I could not see God as a source of love or power or a spiritual being who we could interact with. Surely if there had been a God he had abandoned us.
Finding God after A.A.
After a few months in A.A. I began to feel better about life and I felt as if I had been raised to a new level of consciousness. I didn’t know how it happened but I was filled with new hope for the future. Then I made a decision that changed my life. I decided that this new found happiness was somehow connected to the spirituality that had surrounded e in A.A.
Shortly thereafter, I had a wonderful experience. I was sitting in my kitchen. I was thinking about God and suddenly I had a wonderful feeling of well-being. I felt peaceful and content. AlI of my fears disappeared and I felt as if everything in the universe was in order. I just knew that the chaos of the world was part of God’s plans and that everything was going to be taken care of. Since this time many people have noticed the changes in me and asked me how they too could jump-start a spiritual life. I have created the following list of suggestions for them and for people who have been abused by the church but still want to find God.
Suggestions for Beginners
Spirituality means activating or getting in touch with that part of our psyche that connects us to a power greater than ourselves (greater than our fear). It means getting in touch with the “eternal” via our own “inner light.” To do this, to embrace spirituality and receive the gift of psychological healing that goes with it, here are some suggestions:
If you have been harmed in anyway by the church, consider forgiving the people who carried the wrong message to you.
⋅ We need to acknowledge a power greater than ourselves. This is a simple decision. Faith will come later.
⋅ We need to be open to the experience of spirituality. Allow the process to begin by discarding our prejudices. To paraphrase Herbert Spencer, ignorance is contempt prior to investigation.
⋅ We should not confuse spirituality with religion, theology, or church; it is a personal experience between us and God.
⋅ We may want to read about spirituality (anything and everything).
⋅ We should seek out spiritual people and spiritual organizations.
⋅ Once the door has sprung open (or even before), we can begin talking to God (prayer) and listening (meditation).
⋅ We now need to surrender to God and become humble. This means giving up some of our will (ego) in order to acknowledge God’s superiority. It means allowing God to guide us from God’s point of greater wisdom ─ “thy will be done.”
⋅ It is important to give credit where credit is due. We should be grateful to this “higher power” when we start to feel more peaceful, serene, and confident.
⋅ If the changes in us are slow (if the benefits don’t seem readily apparent), we should not lose hope. Some of us have instantaneous spiritual awakenings but most of us grow into spirituality.
⋅ To keep our faith strong, we might incorporate some spiritual exercises or disciplines into our life.
⋅ Imagination and personification can enhance and maintain our spirituality. God is spirit, but I can give God human form and imagine that he or she is:
– Protecting me
– Walking with me
– Holding me
– Talking to me
– Sharing my anger and frustrations
– Giving me strength
– Helping me let go of my anger
– Helping me forgive my persecutors
– Helping me look at others through his or her eyes
– Loving me unconditionally
– Helping me “accept what I cannot change” and change what should be changed.
⋅ If all else fails, we can ask (pray) for willingness to know God and then build on that. Leave should leave no stone unturned, and remember that “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find.” Luke 11:9
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