One of my first memories of practicing my spirituality was going to church with my family when I was about six years old. I remember sitting in the pews and whispering to my mom, “Why is everyone calling that man Father? Is he everyone’s dad?” My mom shushed me, promising she would explain later.
I am a baptized Catholic, but my family and I do not practice Catholicism. That first memory was one of the only times in my life our family attended mass—I remember saying my prayers every night as a little girl, but prayer-time quickly dwindled as I became older and my parents cared less about enforcing this ritual.
Fast-forward about twenty years, and here I am, now a true believer of God. This spiritual practice is a new one for me, but a devout one no doubt. All my life, I craved a spiritual connection, but the doctrines of my own religion and others like it left me feeling repressed rather than uplifted. I also come from a family who has a sour opinion of the traditional religious practice of being Catholic or Christian, so I may have been biased. Ironically, I ended up attended a Catholic college for my degree, so I was required to take two theology courses. I was definitely dreading sitting in Bible study for two semesters, but I have to admit that learning about my religious history definitely sparked the fire and set the foundation for my spiritual practice today.
Today I believe in God. My God is the Creator of all, the Universe, a universal and all encompassing Love. God is a greater force at work, He is everywhere, and He is within me. I seek this guidance and connection by looking within, usually through meditation or prayer. I don’t have a name for my spirituality, in fact, I haven’t even settled on a name for my entity, I regularly use God because it feels good and is natural to me. My spiritual practice often feels like a hybrid of different religions. I operate with simple doctrines: God loves me unconditionally, is here to guide me in all that I do, and that I should trust and seek this guidance daily. The method in which I choose to connect with and practice my spirituality is always changing, and the best part is that there are no rules!
I used to feel really self-conscious about talking to people about my beliefs, but now I feel called to encourage people to just believe in something. I also have a good amount of experience with people who I call “church shamers.” These people are the ones who criticize me for saying I believe in God without identifying with a religion. With these people, I practice my right to not have to explain myself. You should never waste your time explaining your beliefs to someone who has the audacity to undermine your beliefs in the first place. No person is above another for what he believes in, period.
There are times when I go through a lull, and I won’t think about God or try to connect with my spirituality for weeks. But I never feel guilty for this. I don’t feel like God is mad at me, and I trust that I will always be able to come back to Him. I actually believe that God will show up for me when it’s time for me to start connecting again. For example, just a couple of weeks ago I was walking down the street when I noticed this couple walking towards me. A man and a woman, they just looked like two friends who were in deep conversation about something or catching each other up on their lives. Just as they passed me the man did a double take, turned around, tapped me on the arm and said, “Excuse me miss, do you believe in God?” I was so taken aback by this seemingly random and very forward question from a stranger, but the three of us ended up talking about our beliefs for a few minutes just like we were old friends. Then the man shook my hand, and they were on their merry way. As soon as they walked away, I knew that man was God communicating to me. At that moment, I closed my eyes and felt God’s love moving through me. The great thing about this belief is that God never leaves you; it doesn’t matter how long I have gone without practicing my spirituality because my spirituality lives within me. It’s always there waiting for me whenever I need it.
Ever since I embraced my beliefs and started connecting with myself and with the Universe, spiritually my life has changed for the better. I feel safe, guided, loved, and like I have a place to turn to no matter what. It has improved my outlook on the world and my humanity drastically. My hope for everyone is that they believe in something. Believe that there is a greater force at work, a greater good, and that unconditional love exists.