where am I?: spiritual seeking and wandering

I love my faith and spirituality. They are the foundation for all I do and all I am. And yet, I still consider myself on the path of spiritual seeking.

One might say that I’m not fully grounded by admitting by spiritual seeking. “You must have a home church or congregation or denomination to claim your faith life.” To not be able to fully express what you believe because you’re still searching for it is your downfall.

The problem with this argument is that I’m far from alone in my spiritual seeking. We’re in a unique moment of time where so many people are opening their minds and questioning the status quo in every capacity. This includes our religious and spiritual lives. And with that questioning comes uncertainty and strong urges to seek more, seek different.

What does our spiritual seeking say about who we are and what may come next in our collective consciousness? I definitely see an opportunity for us all to expect more from our religious affiliations. Spiritual seeking reflects our evolving mindsets; it’s time to address that elephant in the room of what may come next.

I’m not alone.

You might hear yourself in my words, admitting that I’m (and you’re) in the process of spiritual seeking. You’re noticing hypocrisy and discrepancies in how you’re practicing faith. With that comes a fear of the unknown: if I don’t feel called to my current faith life, then where do I even go from here?

It’s scary. You might be leaving something behind you’ve known your entire life thus far. But again, you are far from alone. This is where we may designate ourselves as “spiritual but not religious,” or SBNR.

A big misconception here is that SBNR equates to atheism and losing faith altogether. Instead, we’re realizing the differences between “religion” and “spirituality,” and deciding that the latter most aligns with our own values. Organized religion certainly isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Almost 20 percent of the American population identifies themselves as “unaffiliated” with a religion. That was almost eight years ago, and that number has likely risen since then. We’re increasingly interested in spiritual seeking, which is just another indicator of how desperately we’re longing for change.

DIY faith.

From personal experience, I can attest that spiritual seeking feels like rickety terrain to walk. Perhaps from my own anxieties, or those reflected in the popular religious rhetoric, I often feel inadequate for not knowing exactly where I fit into the major religious groupings.

Organized religion is often our reason for spiritual seeking, and yet it’s also the reason we feel uneasy doing so. We’re generally expected to attend regular rituals in a holy building that includes a congregation of community members who believe the same things you do. If you’re Christian, it’s its own Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

The people who I find the most spiritual are people who don’t regularly go to church. To me, sitting in a pew every week doesn’t make you “holier than thou.” Being actively involved with a certain church or affiliation doesn’t equate to belief.

Actions truly speak louder than words. And that’s how I view spirituality. I really don’t care about what you call yourself and what specific doctrine you might adhere to. Instead, show me how you live your life based off ethical values and loving kindness. That is where true spirituality lies, whether you call it that yourself or not.

spiritual seeking for change.

To a certain degree, we have a responsibility to not only fulfill our needs for spiritual seeking, but also renew the existing religious systems already in place. As much as I’m quick to blame the establishments of organized religion themselves, it’s undeniable that we are behind their existences.

The change I suggest is fairly simple sounding: return to our roots. To the place we were in when simply sought out community among those awed by God and Spirit. Where we can discuss and practice what sets our souls alight.

And I think we can create this mentality within ourselves, too. God isn’t within one particular building within one particular type of people. The beauty of spirituality is that we can find it everywhere, in any moment. The Divine exists not above us, but within us and all around us.

Here’s the fun part: even if you’re still affiliated with a certain religion or denomination, you can still pursue spiritual seeking! There’s so much truth within every well-intentioned spiritual path: I challenge you to explore ideas outside your comfort zone of belief. Ask yourself the hard questions. Allow any existing notions to grow and evolve, just as we each do in every other area of life. Don’t be afraid to ask for support along the way.

Spiritual seeking doesn’t have to be solely a millennial phenomenon, nor will the trend be stopping anytime soon. Take what you already know and put it into new contexts. Embrace our differing but universal faiths. Bring forth healing you never knew you needed.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Geno Fitzherbertz
2nd March 2018 at 11:01 pm

I love churches. I was the only child in my family who voluntarily confirmed their faith to our Catholic church. I went most Sundays just to meet up with friends. I went to Catholic school. I also participated in a lot of community projects through my church. But, then I moved to South Dakota, and I’ve only been to campus mass once. There was a major change in atmosphere for me. I didn’t feel as welcomed. Other members looked at me as an outsider, people sung in different tones, and I did not see as many smiles as I was use too at mass. I didn’t feel a spiritual connection at my nearby church. I’ve lived in South Dakota for almost 4 years now and I realized I don’t have the same enthusiasm to participate in mass here as much as I did in my hometown. But as a Catholic, I do feel shame for not putting in as much effort to attend. I try to build spiritual connections with people outside of church. I also make sure to spread good lessons I learned from my church, and make an effort to help people when I can. But someday I hope I can reconnect with a church like I did in American Samoa. I tell you, their faith is beautiful. Their music, dance, culture, and lessons are blessings themselves.

    Allie MaeLynn
    9th March 2018 at 11:16 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this. We put so much emphasis on going to church, but the church we go to and its environment can really make or break our spiritual growth. But I love you mentioning American Samoa because I plan to live there for about a year! I cannot wait to immerse myself in that culture. 🙂

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