Do you ever feel like you’re missing out because you’re not feeling God or spirituality the way people around you are? You probably don’t admit it out loud if you do, right? Most of us tiptoe around spirituality and keep that topic to ourselves in an attempt not to offend or to avoid being judged about such a personal part of our lives, but I wish there were more letting each other in and asking questions to share our experiences.
I’ll go ahead and take that first step to let you in because I think it’s a conversation worth having. I feel God in a big way, but to be honest, there are times I…just…don’t. I can’t tell you with one-hundred-percent certainty what my beliefs are, and it weighs heavily on me because I’m thirsty for some cozy convictions and community. I do try to go deep and let spirituality and God light me up and start my life on fire, but most of my experiences have been quiet, subtle moments.
I keep assuming I will one day feel this overwhelming spiritual change if I just keep looking for it, but it has come to me in moments almost always outside of church where I am being authentically myself during everyday activities like being immersed in nature, snuggling with my kids or husband, listening to music, laughing with friends and family, or connecting with a stranger and making them feel seen.
The more real I can be and as far away from religion I can be, the closer I feel to finding God.
A few years ago I was in my car, and I just sort of chuckled out, “Just take over, God. Whatever ya want, ya got it. Just show me the way.” No glitter came dancing out of the sky. The heavens did not open. Car horns still sounded. The prices at the Whole Foods store I was parked at did not magically drop to an affordable level. The world was still the world, but it feels different when I take a step back from my ego and ask God to make sense of the mess I have a tendency to make.
Another unlikely location I encountered God was when I was naked in public. Did you just re-read that sentence? Well, yep, it’s true. You read it right. My best friend Erica and I went to a Korean bath house in Chicago where everyone gets naked and relaxes in hot tubs. I know it sounds bizarre, but try it if your life needs some shaking up, okay? Seriously, please do it.
We got into the locker room, took off our clothes and headed out into the public bath area. There were women of all races, ages, and shapes sitting in enormous hot tubs, chatting and relaxing. The layers that separate us were totally peeled back, and it was more of a relief than a feeling of being exposed.
Erica and I made our way to the hot tub, and she was moving slowly because she had a serious foot injury. She is a talented dancer, choreographer and performer, so this injury had been a dark cloud for her. We were in the hot tub talking about how her injury has altered her life when here comes another naked woman who was watching us and politely explained she wasn’t trying to be creepy, but she noticed we could use some prayers judging from how Erica had limped to the tub.
The three of us sat in the hot tub as this woman prayed over Erica’s foot, asking God to give her movement and energy back, asking that her pain exit her body now because it was time for it to go.
So there we were—three naked women with three very different body types and that was the least attention-getting part of the scene. My eyes filled with tears as I watched this naked stranger pray with us and for us, all of us as stripped of any pretense, fear or walls.
I realized right there that this too is God.
This raw sincerity from a stranger to see a struggle and want so badly to offer assistance that she has the boldness to come over in all her nudity and say, “I see you’re struggling, and I want to help.” The spirit of God and goodness and the power of raw humanity landed within me so profoundly more than any church setting.
Did this magically make Erica’s pain go away, and did she suddenly walk out of the spa as if nothing had ever happened to her? Not even close, and in fact, her foot is still healing as I write this, a year and a half later. But that’s not what God is to me. God is speaking through us to each other, and God was in that moment of three naked women holding hands, heads bowed, praying together for something to fix all the pain and brokenness.
Moments like these are a gift when we can slow down and take in life around us.
Do you need to be naked in public to experience it? I don’t know. It doesn’t hurt.
As I age, I know my own belief in God and my faith in the mystery of it all, is actually where my connection with God lives. It doesn’t live in the constant wondering why I’m here or what my purpose is. My faith lives in letting God lead me and confuse me. I’ll keep facing my spirituality with the same steady pace I’ve been going at my entire life, remembering what I feel is what I feel, and it’s where I’m meant to be, while also being humble and curious to hear the experiences others have with God, even when those paths are different than mine.
This spiritual path I’m on is one that will keep challenging me, I’m sure. If I stop being challenged by it, it means I’ve given up, and I don’t want that either, even when I feel I fall so short of where others are and feel like a fraud. When I embrace who I am, stop going about my busy life, look up at the stars, breathe, and let it all in, are the days I feel like I’m getting somewhere. I will keep reminding myself to be open to it all, open to change, and open to total acceptance of where I am.
Whether you’re a seeker or not, when do you feel connected to life in general? How can you take more moments to dig in deeper?
This is an excerpt from my book of essays called, “What Waits Ahead is Way Better and Way Worse Than You Imagined: True Stories of Balancing Joy and Poo in Life” that is now available in most online bookstores. It’s geared towards empowering women to tap into who we authentically are instead of who we think we should be, to have more fun, and to remember to not let ourselves disappear.
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 Pavel Danilyuk.