Sometimes I can be pretty hard on myself because my faith in God ebbs and flows from strong to weak and somewhere in between on a daily basis. And, I know, talking about God and spirituality is the equivalent of talking about politics. It’s supposed to be off limits, but I sort of don’t care.
If we become so guarded and edit our voices so much, we’ll stop connecting with each other with our true selves. And my true self wants to admit having faith is hard at times because you might need to know that to remind you we’re all in this together, and not one of us is better than the next.
Years ago I was going through some gut-wrenching obstacles that I knew I had to walk through. I realized I was desperately unhappy in my second marriage. I was so hungry to have my family be intact after divorce that I too quickly married someone in an attempt to put a bandage on all of us. I quickly felt in my gut it was the wrong decision, and the truth caught up with me so deeply I needed to speak to someone about it.
I met with the pastor of the church I was attending at the time in his office. I sat with the man I knew I wanted to leave and Pastor Brian, our heads bowed, as Brian began the prayer. “God, be with us. We’ve got some shit to face here, and we need you.”
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh at the rawness of his prayer or cry at just how true it was. I immediately relaxed by admitting that vulnerability out loud in prayer, and I remember taking a long deep breath in and nodding my head.
Those real words of pleading for guidance helped me to turn to God a lot during that time to face things rather than continue to avoid them. This facing of things meant not only facing the situation and the truth that I had made a mistake and would have to fix it, but it also meant facing myself and the feelings of failure I was stuck in and to grow into a better, stronger person.
I’m a firm believer in going through life not selfishly grabbing what you want. I believe connecting with others and being of service is at the heart of life, so facing a selfish decision to leave someone simply because I wasn’t happy made me question if I was even worthy of God’s love. I truly even questioned if I deserved to be happy.
A well-intentioned friend told me God hates divorce, and I should hang in there and make it work. Bible verses were texted to me to “prove” this declaration, making me feel even worse that I could be such a horrible person who possessed a self-centered ability to hurt someone.
But I kept coming back to Brian’s real, merciful prayer, “Be with me, God. I’m facing shit, and I need you next to me.” As I bowed my head in silence in prayer, I envisioned God walking next to me, shaking his head in sadness as I admitted my struggles, doubting my worth and morals.
I continued to face the situation, and what pulled at my heart more than a verse that proved I was a sinful idiot were the voices of my kids and my gut.
My kids were not happy. They felt this man was a stranger in our house. They felt they had to walk on eggshells because our laughter and joking annoyed him. To be fair, we can be completely annoying, especially to someone who has no kids and is used to an introvert, tidy life. We all felt ourselves not being ourselves, and that’s the voice I heard louder than anything else.
Anytime I would talk myself into staying because it was “the right thing to do”, I started to feel maybe God would not put me on this earth to merely tolerate my situation but to thrive and provide the same joy to my kids.
That permission I gave myself to move towards a more authentic life felt like the most spiritual, freeing thing in life I’ve ever done. It was messy, painful and ugly, and I think that’s where God lives.
We flail around in confusion in the bottom depths of our life, and if we’re open to it, God is there, saying, “Yep, it sucks. It all really, truly sucks sometimes, but if you’re ready, I’ll take your hand.”
That deep soul-awakening spirituality is still there, but I’ll be honest and tell you it’s not always there. I do my best to look up to the sky here and there and ask for guidance to be my best self for everyone I meet, but I’m human, so I can also be a real bag of turds and take life and my current happiness for granted.
I’m far from perfect, and it’s a daily humble workout for me to check myself and challenge myself to keep seeking and reaching.
Our spiritual walks are unique and individual to our own experiences. I get that now.
I get that life is not a cute little linear path from point A to point B. It’s an erratic path that will make your head spin and question yourself. You have a choice to run or face it and ask for help when you no longer recognize yourself or your life.
If your spirituality doesn’t match the perfection you assume others possess, stay in your own lane, and know that where you are is where you are meant to be. There’s room for each and every one of us. You’re not invited to the table only when you’ve got it all figured out and can say with total certainty what your faith looks like.
The invitation comes most times when you’re broken with your walls crumbled around you. At least, that’s been my experience.
God walked me “through that shit” to today, and that’s something I need to remember more often now that I’ve walked through it and found my true self on the other side.
What about you? What does your spirituality look like?
The journey is deeper when you give yourself permission, grace and acceptance to be yourself and own your story, no matter how jagged the path has been.
Be well, dig deep, and breathe.
Rebecca Rine is a writer and speaker at RebeccaRine.com where she writes with raw honesty about the joys and challenges of an ordinary life, feeling it all and living simply and deeply while not being a bag of turds to others. Readers say her writing connects with them because she openly writes about her life and shortcomings regarding marriage, parenting, spirituality, and aging with a goal of embracing your imperfect, authentic self. She is an opinion contributor to Dayton Daily News and public radio, and has been published in places such as: Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Fatherly, and The Write Life. Her podcast “Real Life out Loud” can be heard on various platforms, and her short videos about “one thing to think about” can be found on YouTube. You can follow her on Facebook, and subscribe to her website to get updates on her upcoming book of essays,“What Waits Ahead is Way Better and Way Worse Than You Imagined”.
Image courtesy of Allef Vinicius.