On yesterday's post about our leaving the UU church, michiganme commented that the UU church helped me on my journey to find the spirituality that worked better for me. Actually, that is something I've thought a lot about.
My spiritual path has wandered all over the place and I feel like each step along the journey was meant for me to guide me in the direction I needed to go. When I look back at my life, there was a time when I never would have set foot in a Christian church of any kind. I had an animosity and distrust of organized religion, particularly Christianity. I wasn't ready.
Eventually things in my life led me to want to explore spirituality even though the idea of Christianity was still something I couldn't embrace. I was only ready to begin seeking and see what ideas where out there. That was the next necessary step.
My spiritual seeking led me (via the Belief-o-matic quiz
at Beliefnet.com) to discover UUism. I began reading up on it and I checked online for UU churches near me. I was only ready to find a UU church as an environment to let me explore spirituality with other people. That was the next necessary step.
After discovering a UU church that I really liked and which fit my spiritual needs at the time, we became members. I had never belonged to a church of any kind before having grown up unchurched. I became involved socially with the community, volunteered in RE, and began exploring different religious beliefs. I was only ready to discover what it meant to be a part of a religious community. That was the next necessary step.
In my spiritual seeking, I kept finding myself drawn to liberal Christian authors, bloggers, etc. Discovering that there was a liberal way to be Christian was mind-blowing and life-altering for me. I felt that God was leading me in a specific direction. I was only ready to discover and accept that liberal Christianity spoke to me more than other faith traditions. That was the next necessary step.
At this point, I began to feel unsatisfied at church. I felt a longing for God and an obsession for this man Jesus who was suddenly, to me, different from the Jesus I always heard about growing up. I wanted more of God and Jesus in my life. But at the same time I felt tangibly the absence of God and Jesus from my church. This put me in conflict. This was a difficult stage for me because I loved my church family but I also felt it wasn't "doing it" for me. It took me a long time to realize that I was ready to consider other options and began looking at liberal Christian churches. That was the next necessary step.
I tried some UCC churches and a Methodist church. They were nice but I just didn't feel that they clicked. I had developed a list of liberal Christian authors/books that really spoke to me and, for a while, it felt like I would have to rely on my reading for my spiritual needs. Liberal churches in central Indiana are hard to come by. But one of my favorite authors was Philip Gulley. He's fairly prolific, having written or co-written several non-fiction books as well as a fictional series. I'd read almost everything he's written. His theology spoke to me in a way that seemed like a perfect fit. I feel like I was being led. I was curious when I discovered that his Quaker meeting was only 10 minutes from my house. I was ready to visit the meeting and see where it took me. That was the next necessary step.
And now we have been attending Philip Gulley's liberal Quaker meeting. It feels very right at this point. However, every step in my journey has been necessary. I never would have walked through the doors of the Fairfield Friends Meeting
if I hadn't gone through all of the previous steps. I wasn't ready.
I don't know what the next necessary step is on my journey, but I know now that I am being led by God on my journey to be closer to him/her. I needed UUism to teach me that one can be religiously liberal and to provide an environment where I could explore religious ideas that would eventually lead me to a more liberal understanding of Christianity. I had to go through that door to arrive at where I am today.
Labels: Identity, My Spiritual Search, Quaker meeting, UUism