I was born into a Catholic family. I went to Catholic grade school, high school and college. I recited Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glory Be’s. I sung the hymns, showed up in my pew Saturday night or Sunday mornings. I don’t believe in abortion. I respect the Ten Commandments. However, I can’t recite all of them right now and I am positive I broke a few in my 49 years. I was religious but didn’t have a fucking clue about what the spiritual path is or was. I certainly had no clue that I wasn’t near it let alone on it. I didn’t know what it meant to be spiritually awake until suffering cracked me open into awareness and showed me the truth that was in my life.
I, like most people I think, prayed to God only when I needed something. My prayers were usually requests or sometimes negotiations where I’d offer something to God in exchange for fulfilling my request. “Dear God, give me this job and I’ll…” I see now I wasn’t praying. I was conducting business with God and at times almost blackmailing him.
I thought I understood compassion and being a good person. I swear I did good deeds and thought I knew what it is all about. The truth was my priorities and the way I looked at things was still focused on what I wanted, what I needed and me forging ahead in life without ever surrendering to God’s will. As it turns out, I spoke about having faith but didn’t actually live as if I had faith. I second guessed God a lot. “What? This can’t be right? Why would he make me suffer this way?”
In full disclosure, I gave up practicing a formal religion years ago. I suppose I only go to a Catholic Mass for weddings and funerals. However, my faith and belief in God’s love for me is deeper and truer now because I have a consistent spiritual practice. I change my relationship with God which changed my relationship with myself.
I’ve been a practicing yogi for a long time and I’m an experienced meditator. However, I had my biggest spiritual breakthrough in the last few months. This also happens to be a time when I’ve been taking a long break from yoga and meditation. It seems as soon as I stopped trying so hard to be spiritual I freed up some space in my soul to allow God to work in my life. As soon as stopped searching for peace in a pose, mantra or meditative state and fell to my knees in suffering and surrender, God showed up and showed me the way. When I finally said I didn’t have the answers and didn’t know what to do, I made room for God to work “miracles” in my life and illuminate a path forward.
My prayers have changed these days. I start every morning with this prayer from “A Course In Miracles”
Dear God, Use me. Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say and to whom?
This prayer seems to open the door to let God work things out instead of me trying so hard to figure things out. It invited him to give me divine direction. I do not practice a religion. I am not actively practicing yoga or meditation. I am not a Jesus Lover or a perfect person. I get things wrong a lot. But, I am the most spiritually fulfilled I’ve been in my entire life because I grew up spiritually and woke the fuck up.
I’ve learned one very important lesson in recent months, walking the “spiritual path” is work. It requires deep self examination and self monitoring. It means recognizing your Ego when it shows up and assertively telling it to zip it. It means remembering to take the pause in life to connect with your higher power. It requires that you look at the hard stuff in your life, ask the tough questions and then allow God to find a path for you. And for me, it means trusting God and Universe always has my back.
You can be religious without having a clue about spirituality. I ask you today…Are you Religious or Spiritual, both or neither? Do you believe in God or have you lost faith in a higher power? Do you live on the spiritual path or does your Ego direct your actions? Are you awake spiritually or are you just putting in your time sitting in the pew?
(C) 2016 Linda A. Long – All Rights Reserved
Life Is Best When Lived Passionately