Honor The Journey
Last month I attended the Liturgists gathering in Denver, Colorado. It was hosted by Science Mike and Michael Gungor, and it was a refreshing weekend for me spiritually — a mix of worship, listening, learning, discussion, and connecting with God.
One of the most powerful aspects of the weekend for me was the encouragement by Gungor to honor all parts of my spiritual journey … even the parts I might be frustrated or angry about.
This idea touched something inside me, because it’s something I struggle with a lot. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my faith journey. Although I feel like I’m getting to a more healthy and balanced place in my spiritual life, I still have feelings of anger, sadness, and regret about my past.
I think I carried around a lot of unnecessary guilt, shame, and anxiety related to my religious beliefs that weighed me down and kept me from living out my full self. I used to hold certain religious beliefs that I now view as harmful toward marginalized groups. And I was a judgmental person — both toward myself when I failed to meet my own standards, and toward others who did not believe the same things that I did.
Gungor told a funny analogy that helped me to make peace with my past journey. He said that you don’t look at your baby pictures and criticize yourself for being such a baby. You don’t say, “God, why did I s**t my pants so much?” You were a baby! In the same way, Gungor encouraged us to honor the journey that has brought us to the place we are at right now … even the difficult parts of that journey.
It was hard, but I felt like God was encouraging me to accept my past faith journey — including the struggles and parts that were difficult and painful. It was part of my story, and that was okay. It was also something I had to offer others who might be struggling with their own faith journeys. I started to cry, and it was comforting and cathartic. It was a step toward accepting and integrating my past journey with my present one.
What about you? Are there parts of your spiritual journey that frustrate you or make you sad? Do you try to cut off parts of your past, hoping to escape it or forget about it? What would it look like to honor your journey, both the good parts and the tough parts?
By Joshua Hook
Joshua completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2010. He is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas. Through his writing and speaking, he helps men step forward into healing and growth. Follow Joshua’s blog and download his free e-book ‘A Journey of Healing and Growth’ at http://www.JoshuaNHook.com.
Photo Credit: Ethan Trewhitt via Creative Commons