I, Randy, listen to many people throughout my day. I listen to people in the dog park, in the coffee shop, in the diner, at the gym, and in line at the burrito stand. I hear so many times from various people, “I am not religious, but I am very spiritual.” I have wondered what they mean by that statement. So, sometimes, I ask. A common response may be language and dialogue such as, “Well, I don’t need to go to church. I don’t need to let everyone know who and what I believe in. I don’t need to be a preacher to my friends, coming across perfect and judgmental”. Well that’s OK with me as a postmodern person in my 30’s. But when I ask these people to please continue and let me hear more about their belief system and values, often times their response is disjointed and unclear. I hear more defensive conversation and rationalization than anything authentic and spiritual. So this got me to thinking about my own journey and how I view myself as a spiritual traveler — which is a new description for me.
Postmoderns find their faith in community. Their beliefs are fashioned in dialogue, through reflection, and through experience. How can churches provide such an atmosphere? How can churches create and validate experiences that are truly faith-building and faith-shaping; experiences that work for the spiritual traveler rather than alienating the traveler’s needs by clinging to programs and rituals that just work for church culture people? Randy continues to explain what fuels his journey. He provides church culture leaders with a glimpse at what might work and what things are not working in our faith formation curriculum. According to Randy:
For me, being a spiritual traveler requires ‘special rituals’ and realizing that I am on a unique journey. A journey that many may say they are on, but few really are. This special journey will be challenging and have many setbacks and triumphs.
The spiritual traveler must embrace the fact that a strong pathway to God is found in working through one’s pain. This is how we truly get to know our True Self and unleash the Divine. Most people do not do this work because fear (the opposite of love) keeps us from pushing through our emotional pain.
This life requires great ‘intention’. It must be a daily decision to walk with this intention and have people in your life who understand it and the daily accountability. All of our actions and behavior have intention behind it. This cause and effect should allow us to think before we act.
Relationships are key for the spiritual traveler. Being around healthy people who propel you forward instead of unhealthy people who pull you backwards is a huge challenge.
The integration of understanding one’s past and one’s aberrant behavior is key. Keeping the old parts of your past that you want to keep and getting rid of the rest is vital. Letting the new be born and integrating the old and new is a big part of the process. The integration of mind, body, and soul to let the True Self shine is a core belief to me as a spiritual traveler.
Trust and testimony are important too. There is no testimony without tests. Having people you trust and learning how to be trustworthy are important steps to embrace. Our culture today is so fear-based and shame-driven it is hard for one to truly understand honesty as a practice and a lifestyle. We must understand that lies and hiding are the beginning of evil.
Understanding others is still another piece of the puzzle. In today’s fast-paced life, we rarely take the time to understand ourselves, much less other people. Through our stories and our life experiences we begin to see common threads of humanity and mankind. This enables us to strengthen our empathy and our skills of the “heart”. We need to understand ourselves, which allows us to begin to understand others. But, more importantly, we must define and understand our own belief system, a system of authenticity and heart.
Aligning our belief system and our actions will propel our transformation into the spiritual traveler that we want to become. As we start making better decisions and acting out in healthier ways, the channels to the Spirit become more open, clearer, and much more powerful.
Language is another key ingredient. We must be able to give our journey effective language and be able to articulate the lessons we have learned and sometimes lost. Giving our journey language proves that our awareness is increasing and we are “connecting the dots” to the Higher Truth. We must be able to express it, embrace it, and experience it!
So, to me, one is simply not ‘spiritual’ by virtue of existence. Being spiritual requires action. A strong belief system, accountability, honesty, and courage are a few places to begin your focus as you decide to be a spiritual traveler.
In summary, a spiritual traveler needs to embrace:
S – The journey is special, with defined rituals
P – Working through one’s pain is a pathway to God
I – Intention must be embraced
R – Healthy relationships are a must
I – Integration takes time and cannot be rushed
T – Trust must be established
U – Understanding the concepts are key
A – Alignment of body, mind and soul is vital
L – Giving your journey a voice with accurate language
Until next time, walk with intention, don’t beat yourself up for a failure, do something kind for yourself, and have someone to walk the journey with you. This cannot be done alone.
- What insights did you get from this article?
- What challenges do the introduced concepts bring to your current practices or beliefs?
- What do you need to know more about in order to embrace new learnings or practices?
- Who can help you explore these new challenges or learnings?
- What might the benefits be if you learn to embrace the new insights?
© Edward Hammett and Randy Pierce – www.transformingsolutions.org