am I a spiritual fraud?

I often times feel like a spiritual fraud. Like I’m not doing enough, or I don’t know enough, or a combination of the two.

If I’m supposed to be a “spiritual leader,” then I should rightfully know more about the beliefs and practices I endorse. I should regularly be practicing and believing each day, making spirituality the obvious focal point of my life.

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The problem is simple: I don’t do all of that. I don’t know everything. You could say I’m in a similar boat as anyone else interested in their spiritual journeys.

My extra dose of imposter syndrome is quick to say, “Then you must be a spiritual fraud. You aren’t qualified to lead.”

That voice can be quite convincing. And regardless of your passions and life paths, I’m sure you’ve faced similar questioning and doubt. For some reason, considering ourselves as capable, let alone more so, just feels wrong. 

Although I struggle and falter, I’m learning to realize I’m not a spiritual fraud. It’s an ever-evolving, everyday thought. However, all our doubts do is hold us back, wherever our passions lie. If I’m not a spiritual fraud, then you aren’t a fraud either. Let’s explore these stories we tell and how to rewrite them.

here’s why I’m a spiritual fraud.

The big problem I face when feeling like a spiritual fraud is all the reasoning I can use to back up that claim. It’s so easy to rank up all our faults, past failures, and mistakes. In this court of our minds, the nays quickly outrule.

I’m by far the youngest person in my chaplaincy program. The age and lack of experience already knock me down a few notches. On top of that, my life thus far has been a hodgepodge of spirituality. I’ve yet to find a “home base” I can label myself as. The exact beliefs I hold are still up in the air (pun intended). Let’s face it: everyone else seems much more qualified and knowledgeable than I do.

While we’re at it, here’s another huge curveball: I’m autistic. Careers in spiritual care tend to be the last thing people like me want to do. This work is heavy and exhausting for everyone, let alone the extremely sensitive and socially awkward.

but am I really a spiritual fraud?

So far, the story I’ve told seals my fate: I’m a spiritual fraud. No doubt about it. Might as well back up my bags now.

But wait: we can rewrite this. Nobody said this train of thought was set in stone. Let’s take on another perspective.

Yes, I’m very young for such a path, but God (the universe, the Divine, whatever you believe) opened up major doors that led me here. Since graduating college almost two years ago, it’s been easy to rewear my student cap and continue learning. Which, out of everything I’ve studied, religion and spirituality are by far the most interesting to me.

Perhaps I’m a spiritual fraud because I don’t have all the answers. I dare to say, it’s be fraudulent to claim you do “know it all.” Spirituality is all about embracing mystery, accepting that we’re but smidgens in the grand scheme.

While I wish I didn’t outright fail and screw up on a semi-regular basis, I believe there’s a greater purpose for it. I dare to say, my frequent falls make me even more sensitive and empathetic to others’ suffering.

And autism, a disability that so many people already see as downright evil and something needing a “cure.” My autistic mind can hyperfocus on what I’m especially interested in. I tell it like it is and get straight to the heart of whatever we’re doing. Anything someone else is feeling, I’m immediately attuned to it. Perhaps I don’t have the exact right words to say, or the yearning to touch you and stare deeply into your eyes, but I see you. I hear you. My compassion seeks to help you.

If I’m not a fraud, you aren’t either.

Okay, if I’m maybe not a spiritual fraud, then how can you or anyone else realize they too aren’t frauds? It’s all about shifting your attention. Just because you’ve always believed one way or the other doesn’t mean you cannot change.

Ask yourself: how might my faults actually be my strengths? What do I truly believe about myself and purpose in existing? What validity do my self-assumptions have in a greater context?

There’s a reason you are where you’re currently residing. And your journey thus far has been intentional, shaping you into this person you’ve become. From here, you’ll continue changing and evolving. The pen is in your hand, ready to create whatever comes next.

Of course, life gets in the way. Other people and obstacles arise that change your path. But really, what worth is there in beating yourself up into dust? How is that helping you in any capacity?

Again, I’d be a fraud to say I’m always kind to myself. That I always believe that I’ll somehow get by and make something somewhat decent happen. There’s inevitable hesitancy. We already know that something will likely go wrong. As a dreamer with poor execution skills, I can attest that I’m downright fearful that I’ll sustain myself on my passions and envisioned goals. 

If you learn anything from this, let it be known that you deserve kindness. The compassion you likely divy out to everyone else, you should direct some toward yourself. Let me affirm that you aren’t a spiritual fraud or any fraud you’ve claimed to be. You’re capable of aspirations beyond your own realizations. Wherever you’re meant to go, you’ll get there. Keep repeating everything until you start believing it (cheesy, but why not give it a try?).

I’m not a spiritual fraud. Instead, I’m a spiritual leader. However I’m meant to serve such a purpose will soon be written.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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