I guess this could be a bit controversial, but I want to include it anyway.
For me personally, it has been absolutely essential that I have faith in something bigger than me.
It has taken me years to solidify what I believe, to make sense of all the different ideas floating around in my head and to put a label on my beliefs. Even now, I still don’t like the idea of putting something as big as this into one box, but it can make things easier.
I don’t intend to cover any and all things spiritual/religious in this post. Obviously, that is a major topic that goes far beyond what I can cover here. I simply want to share my journey.
I was raised in a secular household. As I mentioned earlier, I have always felt a bit different from others, and have spent a lot of time looking for answers – everything from different religious practices to self-help books. Yes, I’m that person.
This lead me to try a variety of different religions on for size. I know that’s not exactly how religion works – you don’t just dabble until you find something you like. But I was experimenting to see what made the most sense for me.
For a while I tried Wicca, which, with its connection to nature and the belief that we can influence what happens to us, came pretty close to being just right for me. But it still felt like something was missing.
One of my best friends was a Christian, so I went to church with her and spent time reading passages from the Bible, learning about Christ. I’ve always been fascinated with religious art from the Renaissance and earlier periods, so I thought this could be it. But that didn’t quite fit either.
When I went through a period of deep depression I turned to Buddhism, which helped me to understand the nature of suffering and ways to detach from situations. Once again, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it didn’t quite click.
It was around this stage that The Secret was released, and I spent a lot of time learning about the law of attraction and the idea of creating our own reality. I also read a lot of Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer around this time too.
One thing I loved about Wayne Dyer was the way he incorporated many spiritual beliefs into his teachings – he quotes the Bible, refers to Buddha and others, as well as drawing on the idea that we do indeed create our own reality. So far, Wayne Dyer’s approach had been the one to most closely match mine: there are so many different spiritual practices and beliefs, all of which hold value.
Perhaps, I wondered, I didn’t have to choose. I do believe that every religion and spiritual practice holds wisdom for us. I started to see that there was something to learn from each and every one of these spiritual viewpoints.
Then I heard the term ‘New Thought’ from the wonderful Andrea Schroeder, and my world blew right open. Finally I had a term for the spiritual approach I had been taking for years. I still don’t fully feel comfortable describing myself as someone who is part of the New Thought movement, but it is the closest I have come to finding something ‘official’ to explain what I believe. I haven’t yet done enough research to say I believe in everything in the movement in its entirety.
Regardless, having a belief – no, having a knowing – that there is something bigger in this world than myself, something that looks out for me, has helped me through many difficult times. You may choose to disregard this, and that’s fine. But this has become essential to my well being.
When I talk about having faith in something bigger than ourselves, I think there is a universe of possibility here. You may choose to think about religion or spirituality, or you may be more scientific and facts-based. You may believe in things that aren’t as clearly defined. You may feel connected to something that you can’t easily name, or explain. That is fine. Whatever you choose to believe is fine – it is whatever matters to you.
So what do I believe? I believe that the Divine is in each and every one of us. I believe that one of the best ways to connect with the Divine is in nature. For me, spending time in nature is spending time with the Divine. I believe that everything happens for a reason, that I am guided ways that will help me to learn what I need and grow. I believe that I can control my own life and that I create my own reality. I also believe that what I think I want is not always what I need, and I trust that when things don’t go according to my plans it is because there is something bigger and better waiting for me that I couldn’t possibly imagine.
And I also believe that it is up to each and every one of us to decide what we want to believe, for ourselves.
What do the words religion, spirituality and faith mean to you? Do they have positive or negative associations?
What do you believe? Take a blank page in your journal and head it up with ‘I believe…’ and write everything that comes to mind, big or small.
What don’t you believe? Sometimes it can be easier to figure out what we do believe by eliminating what we don’t believe in. Try the same exercise above, but using the heading ‘I don’t believe…’
What are you unsure about? What do you want to believe, but you’re not sure you can?
What has lead you to believe and not believe in the things that you do? Have you been raised that way? Have you had certain life experiences that have lead to that?
When do you feel most connected to the Divine? It might be in nature, at church, with other people who share your beliefs, when you perform on stage, when you write, when you paint – whatever most speaks to you. How can you bring more of this into your life?
Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.