Monday, September 17, 2012

Spiritual this and that

My church, Lane Memorial United Methodist.

I talked with my minister last week about my spiritual beliefs and the effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder on them, and I wanted to share some of our conversation.
We had discussed my OCD a bit in emails but had never talked about it. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have to explain everything. He’s read some of this blog, so he knew going in what OCD is and some of how it affects my spiritual life.
I told him about my doubts that I carry with me about God and asked whether or not I was a hypocrite for coming to church and sitting with people who seem to be such faithful believers.
Some of my doubts are, I believe, results of my OCD. My struggles with prayer and with being “right” with God are directly tied to it.
  But I’ve also always had a lot of questions about God, and it seems like it’s sometimes hard to get good answers from the usual sources.
He assured me that I wasn’t a hypocrite and that I needn’t worry about having doubts and fears about who God is and what place He plays in my life and in the life of others.
We also talked about mental illness in general. I was pleased that he understands that mental illness is not a rarity nor is it something to be ashamed of.
It was reassuring to me and I believe to all people with mental illness who attend our church that he has this healthy and open attitude towards those of us who struggle with these disorders.

Class update

Yesterday I attended my second session of the open discussion class at church, where we are studying Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity.
When I talked with my minister last week, he told me that he and the class facilitator had envisioned a class where all who had questions could come and feel free to express themselves. It would be a “safe place” for people like me who had questions about God but might not feel comfortable expressing those questions in a general group setting.
We’ve just started the book, but it seemed like all the participants are already engaged, as I am.
The book asks 10 questions to start a conversation about Christianity. It’s a book that will have us doing a lot of exploring: “We need not a new set of beliefs, but a new way of believing, not simply new answers to the same old questions, but a new set of questions” (p. 18).
Some of the questions are the following: How should the Bible be understood? Who is Jesus and why is he important? What is the Gospel?
This class is going to push me and challenge me, and I believe it will help me on my spiritual journey.
Last Monday, I had my first class on Holy Communion and I’ll have my second class tonight. I am learning more about why we do what we do during Communion.
The minister is also asking for our input on how to make the worship service a better experience for all.

A spiritual quest

So I’m on a spiritual quest and feeling a lot better about it than I have in the past. I am less encumbered by OCD, partly because I’ve given up (for the most part) the chants and prayers that used to color my spiritual life.
And I’ve given them up only after a lot of effort and sitting with the anxiety. I’ve ended up not praying a lot, but I am meditating more, and I talked with my minister about saying prayers that have already been written. I am not worrying about praying, though.
I’ve also stopped obsessing over being right with God. As with the praying, that’s taken a lot of effort.
The OCD still waits in the wings of my spiritual life, but I know it’s there and plan on keeping it there as best I can.
I am a seeker, and I’m confident that I will be on a spiritual journey for the rest of my life.
And I’m confident that that’s OK.

Are you a seeker? What kind of journey are you on when it comes to the spiritual (not necessarily religious)?

19 comments:

  1. Tina!! How wonderful to be in a class where people can just ask questions -in a clas with a purpose to let those who have questions, to just ask.

    I think it is great that you're learning more about Holy Communion! It's surprising at how many Christians just partake in the practice and not really know why they are doing it. (I know I am on a constantly learning pattern with my relationship with God and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.)

    I hope you keeping seeking HIM in truth and in Spirit.

    Oh, by the way, praying seems a difficult one for me. I mean praying in the ways that seems traditional to most. I have a journal where I write out of my heart and mind and spirit what I want to say to God, ask of God, and to write my praises and thank-you's.

    Blessings to you!

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Deanna! :-)

      I have written/journaled prayers to God before, and sometimes that works well for me.

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  2. Wow! What a big question. I am on a winding journey that has taken many turns lately. Many taken for granted beliefs are being questioned and I am going with it, albeit it has been challenging. I embrace it in my best days. Just being present. It is a challenge not to worry, but I keep trying. The meaning will reveal itself. Someday.

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    1. Jodi, it is a winding journey, isn't it? It sounds like you are truly embracing the process. I am trying to do that. I admire your attitude!

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  3. The whole picture I had of God changed last year when I had a psychotic episode. Nothing was the same after that happened and I'm still trying to figure out what I do and don't belief.
    I'm not worried though, if God exists he knows about psychosis and OCD too. I still feel loved somehow. A very comforting feeling.

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    1. Klaaske, I imagine that would be a very comforting feeling, that you are loved. I am so glad you have that feeling. Sometimes I feel that way, too, and it's a blessing.

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  4. Sounds like a lot of positives right now in your spiritual journey!!

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    1. Lisa, It feels like a very positive time. I am trying to just enjoy it!

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  5. Hey Tina! I think it is awesome that your church is comfortable with questions. I think questions are good and I don't think God is afraid of any of them. After all, He has all the answers!!

    I know it must have been very hard to sit with the anxiety while not repeating prayers. I'm really proud of you for doing that.

    I'm not sure if I'm considered a seeker or not, but I'm definitely on a journey of trying to follow God the best way I can (and hopefully the way He wants me to.) It is absolutely a process and every day is another opportunity for growth.

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    1. Thank you, Sunny! I agree--every day is another opportunity for growth, in so many ways.

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  6. Hi, Tina!

    Great post, as always. Having read about your previous difficulties with God/religion vis a vis the OCD, I think you're on an amazing and courageous journey.

    I also read Jodi's comment...I went through the redefinition of my beliefs like that after my daughter died in 1997. It was a profound, difficult, and powerful dark night of the soul. I feel that what emerged for me was a set of beliefs more authentic, and less based on things that I had been taught. I treasure that time period, even though it was tough at times. These days, I think my seeking is about trying to maintain that connection as often and as clearly as I can. Some days I'm better at it than others!

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    1. Nadine, I can only imagine how difficult that time must have been for you. I am glad that you emerged with beliefs you feel are more authentic. It's so easy to depend on beliefs just because those are the ones that we've been taught.

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  7. It really is a good feeling to find a minister that resonates with you.

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  8. I am totally a seeker. I find it comforting that even the disciples and those who were with and close to Jesus, had doubts (doubting Thomas for example) and questions. I don't doubt the existence of God, but I do have questions and I certainly feel like I get off track many times. I feel like I get caught up in worldly things and I don't love or respond to the needs of people in the world who are suffering as much I should. I need to work on that.

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    1. Oh, Krystal Lynn, I need to work on that one, too. It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day worries and concerns and not see what is around us.

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  9. Sigh. I'm definitely on a journey, and have to admit I don't want to be. I want everything to be solved and to get to a place of stability and trust. I guess the journey is important, though - seeing as I've been trying to escape it for the past 4 years, I might as well embrace it, right? ;) Lots of fear tied up in that.

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    1. I can understand the "sigh," because that's me, too. I get tired sometimes of feeling like I'm always seeking. I do think it helps if we enjoy the journey.

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  10. Your minister sounds wonderful!

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