Beige Spirituality

set free 3

Picture by Josh Benton

There’s something about coming before something different, distinct, other worldly, dare I say even holy. As human beings there is a craving for spirituality (I’ve said it before, even atheism is a type of spirituality). We are spiritual beings who were created in the image of God. We are spiritual beings who truly crave to be in the presence of the God who formed us and made us.

Now, to be clear, we’re not just physical husks with a spirit bottled inside like some kind of djinni or something wherein at the right time the soul will escape this horrid physical realm. Nope. That’s not what I’m talking about. We’re holistic beings, body and soul wrapped up together with mind and strength. You can add salt to water and the two become one, unable to fully separate or become distinct from one another later.

To be honest, in our world today, there is a spiritual restlessness. There is a desire for something more and we seek, some with reckless abandon while others with timidity. It is sought through drugs, it is sought through science and philosophy, it is sought through meditation or chakras, or the smorgasbord of religions we have access to today.

It is our restless hearts seeking something greater, something not us, something (dare I again say) holy. And it is in Jesus where our restless hearts find rest.

Good.

Now how do you deal with this? How do you deal with being with Jesus?

Too many times people say that we come to Jesus and that’s it. That’s the end goal. He’s your “Get out of Hell Free Card.” He’s “fire insurance.” If you have Jesus then that’s all you need.

Okay. Fine.

Now what?

There is a need for followers of Jesus to seek Jesus and be in His presence always.

But how?

That is where the idea of the spiritual disciplines come in. And also the guilt.

We hear these great stories of men and woman of faith coming to God in prayer for hours at a time. We hear these stories of men and woman of faith who spend hours immersed in scriptures. We hear these stories of men and woman of faith spending time in solitude reflecting on God, seeking Jesus. Or of those who spend time fasting. Or those who are in daily worship to God. And the list goes on.

And in that list, we feel guilty for not doing it ourselves.

chapel

St. Gregory’s Abbey’s chapel. Photo Josh Benton

The good Lord knows we’ve tried. I’ve tried. I’m horrible about spending time in silence and solitude. This last January I spent time at a monastery for prayer and reflection. No wifi. No cell reception. The monks lived in silence save for a half hour after the morning mass and a half hour before the evening worship. And for those two half hours I yakked their ears off. And they didn’t say anything because…well they’re monks.

I tried a few years ago to do a spiritual retreat in the woods in a cabin. After three or so hours I realized I had good cell reception and I was on the phone all the time.

I’m bad at fasting. I’m okay in prayer for maybe 20 minutes to a half hour and I’ve learned that this is a feat within itself. I tried journaling but that comes in spurts and phases.

There are times where I’m just not red hot like these other great people of faith. I’m not on fire like they are. I struggle to do the spiritual disciplines at times.

I’ve learned though that it’s okay to be beige in my spirituality. We’re all wired different. Like I said, I’m a massive extrovert and spending time in silence and solitude is very much hard on me. Now honestly it does stretch me, but I can only take so much before I break (hence those poor monks).

We can feel so guilty for not doing all these great spiritual disciplines. In fact there are some that make us feel so guilty we just want to lovingly in truth smack them upside the head and tell them to shut it.

It’s okay to be beige.

It’s okay to blend in to life and be ordinary.

We’re all different in who we are. That’s the wonderfulness of being a unique human being made in God’s image. We all have our unique ways of coming to Him. (To be clear, I’m not saying that all paths lead to God…instead there are different spiritual disciplines for different people).

Spiritual disciplines are like tools to be used. You don’t use a hammer for a screw and you don’t use a crescent wrench when pliers are called for (I don’t know much about tools but I think that’s right). We don’t have to use them all. Take the tool chest out, look at what spiritual disciplines are there. Which one’s suit you best for the time you’re at in life. Then use that one. And then be beige about it. It’s okay. You don’t have to be a super hero, just faithful in seeking Jesus daily to be in His presence. And different tools for different people will allow you to come to him in your unique way through these disciplines.

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