I grew up Christian. I was dedicated in a Christian church as an infant and spent my youth in a Christian pre-school. As a family, we didn’t do church often and although I knew who God was I wouldn’t say I gained a relationship with Him until I was a teenager.
At around the age of 13 my mom and I started attending a church ritually. This church is where we found relationship with God and His people. We learned and dedicated our lives to Him. I learned to pray, read the Bible and also that I needed to hold myself accountable for my actions. I was definitely a wild child growing up, having done things that are cringe worthy and hurting people who didn’t deserve it along the way. I dealt with a lot of shit without anyone to really guide me through the emotions, until we found this church. This church is where I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I honestly believe this is when I truly became saved. In terms of other religions, this is where I believe I had my spiritual awakening, developing an ability to open myself to the Divine in a way I never had before.
The Dark Night of the Soul
I believe it was after I received the Holy Spirit that I experienced what I have learned is called the dark night of the soul. I think Eckhart Tolle describes it well,
“It is a term used to describe what one could call a collapse of a perceived meaning in life…an eruption into your life of a deep sense of meaninglessness. The inner state in some cases is very close to what is conventionally called depression. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything. “
Although at that time I was already considered depressed, having taken anti-depressants for 3 years, the depression got to the point of being so bad that I didn’t want to live anymore. I took drugs, self harmed and cried a lot. I truly felt as if there was no point to any of it. I gave up on my relationship with God, thinking that God couldn’t exist. I spent weeks in an inpatient unit to try and get my medication where it needed to be so that I could be stabilized mentally. So why do we go through all of this? Again in my opinion Eckhart Tolle describes it damn near perfectly,
“They awaken into something deeper, which is no longer based on concepts in your mind. A deeper sense of purpose or connectedness with a greater life that is not dependent on explanations or anything conceptual any longer. It’s a kind of re-birth. The dark night of the soul is a kind of death that you die. What dies is the egoic sense of self. Of course, death is always painful, but nothing real has actually died there – only an illusory identity. Now it is probably the case that some people who’ve gone through this transformation realized that they had to go through that, in order to bring about a spiritual awakening. Often it is part of the awakening process, the death of the old self and the birth of the true self.”
My dark night was the hardest time in my life, but from it I gained much. It took me a couple of years to turn back to God but when I did my heart was open. At the time I developed anxiety and panic attacks. I felt I needed Him above all else to get through it. If He could bring me through and out of the worst time in my life, how could I not repay Him with my devotion. When I cursed Him He showered me with love. He was protecting me the entire time although I didn’t see it.
As I was being brought out of the dark night I met my husband. We were immediately connected on a spiritual level. We like to joke that we are an arranged marriage. I will never forget a moment in one of our first dates, we walked around the bus station and I bent down to feel the petals of a beautiful flower. He seemed surprised. He said he’d never seen anyone do that before, let alone seen someone notice something so small. I felt he could see things other people couldn’t, and he felt the same about me.
I believe God was prepping me in my dark night to meet my husband, and in order to gain a true relationship with him I had to grow up fast. I had to lose the ridiculous ego I had created to hide behind. My husband is much older than me, but mentally and spiritual we connect so amazingly. We were baptized together in a non-denominational church where we spent about 5 years. We certainly weren’t the perfect christian couple from then on. We were two people who met in years of brokenness that were just starting to finally heal. We certainly have needed each other in order to do so.
Questioning my Faith
The church is an imperfect place because it is filled with imperfect people. Being apart of this church I learned of the politics of it. I learned that many Christians have view points that I not only disagree with but go against the teachings of Jesus Christ. I began to understand what Gandhi meant when he said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians, they are nothing like your Christ.” My husband and I felt extremely alone and unaccepted. It was so hard.
I began to question my faith. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God and the Holy Trinity. I don’t believe at this point that Christianity is the only way to have that relationship. As a Christian I find it becomes easier to judge people and harder to love people when in fact love is the greatest commandment. I believe that eastern practices can help to develop my faith in a new way. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to love God and express your devotion and if there is, I’m sure He will let me know.
My spiritual practice is extremely important to me, so I share with you. A big part of creating my kale life is finding a spiritual path that feels right to me. I look forward to the journey.