Giving Others the Freedom to Pursue Their Own Spiritual Journey

My attempt at artfully taking a picture of Sunday's bulletin
My attempt at artfully taking a picture of Sunday’s bulletin

It’s been a while since I talked about my spiritual journey, which is a fancy way of saying I’ve been visiting different churches.

Although, I can’t really use the term ‘different‘ anymore. The past handful of times I’ve attended a service has been at the same Lutheran church. I am liking this place more and more. They really don’t seem to care who you are or where you are in life. I mean, they even had information for support groups on sexual addition in their bulletin. Additionally, there was a group for spouses of people who have sexual addictions. I’m not going to sit here and say watching porn is wrong, but if it is interfering with the intimacy of a relationship, it becomes a problem. Part of the description mentioned understanding who we are as “spiritual and sexual beings.” Those are only a few examples of what this place does. I’m am always so impressed at the services and support this church provides. They are really interested in following Jesus (as opposed to shoving the bible down people’s throats and condemning them to hell).

D came with me yesterday, as he usually does. While he was baptized Catholic, he didn’t have a childhood of church attendance like I did. Whatever service we attend, he rarely sings or even speaks the prayers with everyone. I sometimes mention this as I feel such actions help expand the feeling of community and spirituality.

As I was listening to the homily (that’s what it’s called right? Help a Catholic girl out?), I came upon a revelation in regard to D’s non-action. The pastor was speaking about baptize and how it erases all distinctions. I was really impressed, as he listed different political parties, sports teams and income levels. You come as democrat, republican, green party or tea party, but in baptism, you died with Christ. You are reborn as one with him and all distinctions are erased.

The church at night
The church at night

He went on to describe many types of ‘differences’ people tend to judge each other on. Addressing the act of baptism itself, he said people can get too caught up in the action. He told a story about a time he was at a church that did immersion baptism (putting the body completely under water). It just so happened that one of the men he was baptizing was quite tall with long limbs. He didn’t quite fit. When he was baptized, one of his elbows remained above the water. After the service, a parishioner came up and told him, “that baptism didn’t take.”

The pastor was a bit taken aback. He could see the man joyful and celebrating with his family. The moment was clearly profound for him. What did the method matter? That was his point. Whether you anoint a person on the head or completely immerse them, whether they have completely accepted God in their lives or they are just starting their spiritual journey, it doesn’t matter.

I glanced at D and thought about how terribly old-fashioned I was being. Wasn’t one of the (many) issues I had with Catholic dogma its tendency to go through the motions, valuing tradition over action? Here I was, a product of my childhood, trying to find a way to get D to follow the traditions I thought he should. That wasn’t my place. It’s not my place to push him along the spiritual path that I think he should be on.

It doesn’t matter.

If he finds more peace in listening or if he simply needs more time to open up, that is fine. That is his spiritual journey and I have no right to try and dictate where that should lead him.

Before I started this blog, D and I had tried out a few different religions. None of them really clicked and I started to feel like I was dragging him places. “Whatever you want,” he would tell me and follow me to whatever service I felt like going to that Sunday. Eventually, I got discouraged and stopped asking him to accompany me. Then, D started listening to the KLOVE radio station on his way to work. The music calmed him and made him happy. Even though he’s never been much of a church-goer, that radio station gave him hope during the common hustle and bustle of life. It wasn’t long before he brought up curiosity for looking at church services again.

I should have known it then, but it took me all this time. D is on his own, unique spiritual path. There are many facets of his life in which I play a huge role, but I have to let go control of this one. The relationship between one’s self and one’s spirituality is unique to them. It is not something that can be clearly explained to anyone else and it is not anyone’s place to dictate how that relationship to be.

When I feel like attending services, I will invite D along. Other than that, I’m going to try and stay out of his way. He is free to sing or stay silent, to speak or listen. This is his journey and I need to let him find his own way.


11 thoughts on “Giving Others the Freedom to Pursue Their Own Spiritual Journey”

  1. I grew up in a more fundamentalist Christian religion and then moved away from it. I actually became an atheist for a while but then discovered Joseph Campbell and mythology. I was thrilled. I thought my mom would be thrilled to. But she didn’t get it. At first I was surprised, but then I came to feel that we all have different personalities and so everyone needs different sorts of spiritual paths. I no longer expect everyone to want to be on the same path that I am on. My mom however, does not feel the same way, and very much wants me on her path. Oh well.

    1. I’ve strayed from the beliefs of my strict Catholic family, but sometimes old habits creep up. That what I think this was. I still feel like I should show people how to follow this path, but it’s different for everyone. Even if it was the same, it’s not my place to dictate how fast they walk that path.

      I associate this with my Catholic roots because I remember something a priest said during a homily once. He talked about how relieved he was that his father asked to be baptized Catholic on his death bed. It was his way of showing that it’s never too late to turn to God. I remember thinking that his father probably just wanted to give his son peace of mind after his death. Because… you know… if you’re not Catholic….

      There were more examples where the people around me pointed to one path. The one and only path. If you don’t do these things, you are wrong. That just isn’t the way of it. It can’t be. We are all too different.

    2. I’m blogging about Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth/A Hero’s Journey right now… I’d be interested to know your thoughts, what you’re finding in what you’ve read.

  2. TK, this post is now one of my favorite of yours.
    1) i really liked the photos you added cuz it helps me connect a bit more to the experience you had
    2) your boyfriend sounds like a keeper; i don’t know too many guys that would keep going to church with their girlfriend like he does and not whine about it…he sounds like a stand up guy
    3) me being Anglican we call a short message (like 8 minutes) a homily….and a longer message (like 20-30 a sermon…..(i always go to the early service (8 am) cuz the homily is no more than 8 minutes and the whole service is 36 minutes; the perfect time if ya ask me!
    4) i love your attitude regarding your boyfriend’s spiritual journey; that is exactly how i am with those whom are close to me; i don’t pressure them at all

    1. Yeah, I think he’s a keeper, too. When we first met, I was still very into the Catholic dogma and went to mass every Sunday. He would come with me a lot and did the same thing.

      With this new place, I do the same thing. I tell him I’m going and that he is more than welcome to join. 9 times out of 10, he’ll choose to come with me. That simple fact probably matter more than what he actual does during the service.

      and on the note of photos, I’m glad you like these. I’m going to try to take more of my own photos, as a recent story I read showed me the error in how I had been using them.

  3. Hello again, TK. I guess I’ve been raised with a different perspective in the LDS (Mormon) church. This is our 11th Article of Faith:

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    The Articles of Faith were originally part of a letter written by Joseph Smith to John Wenworth, when he asked for information about our church. Since they are now included in our Standard Works we consider our scriptures, this is taught to all our members.

    In fact, one of our leaders (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency) said this last October:
    “In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.”

    1. I didn’t know that was part of the Mormon faith, but I love it! That’s a great practice to have. I feel like people respond better to that kind of openness than they do to force or excommunication.

      My parents raised me in the Catholic religion. No one ever said straight out that the only way was Catholicism, but it’s strongly implied. During my time in Catholic school, I attended a class all about the Catholic religion.There, I learned that Catholics do no recognize marriages under other religions. Same goes for any sacrament. You must be baptized by a Catholic priest in order to be considered baptized. This is because you have to be ordained though the Catholic dogma as a priest in order to perform these sacraments. If the person who baptizes or marries you has don’t gone though that process, then God hasn’t given them the power to perform that sacrament.

      When I was younger, it used to make me uncomfortable to go to other places of worship. I was told not to say ‘Amen’ in order to show that I did not believe what was being said.

      I’ve heard that my uncle, who is a Catholic priest, has refused to marry couples because they lived together before marriage. I don’t know if he still sees it that way, but there are plenty of other priest out there who would do the same.

      For a good part of my life, I believed there was one truth, and everyone else was living a lie. It has only been within the past 5 -7 years that I’ve thought each person may have a truth that is unique to them. Each person has their own, unique relationship with God. Where ever that relationship takes them, and whatever traditions they use to worship, is completely up to them.

    2. P.s. I tried to find the post you wanted me to read but I must be blind because I couldn’t find the right one. Would you mind sending me the link?

      1. Which post was that? My memory is pretty uncanny, usually, but I follow and comment on so many blogs, I need just a little bit more of a hint to jog that memory…

          1. There’s not any *one* post in particular, necessarily, as it’s now the main focus of my blog right now.

            I did write a post about when I read The Hero With A Thousand Faces:

            which *did* kick off my decision to change the focus on my blog (especially as it seemed to overall fit everything I’d been writing about thus far).

            I did revamp my About page:
            and I have links to my series of posts where I explain how I think John Preston of the movie Equilibrium and Norrin Radd, The Silver Surfer of Marvel comics follow this Hero’s Journey pattern.

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