100% Jodi: When Spirituality Presents a Problem

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I feel like I’m inviting you into my living room because this is going to be an intimate conversation. Buckle up because this is another one of those “What I’m Afraid to Tell You” episodes like the one I did 6 months ago.

This episode was brought on by two conversations I had within a 2-week period. The first conversation was a coaching call with one of my clients. She has given me permission to share our conversation with you and I am very grateful to her. We have been working together for 2 ½ months so we’ve gotten very comfortable with one another. In fact when we’ve talked about personality tests like Myers Briggs and DiSC our profiles are a near match. She joked that if we lived near each other we’d either be hanging out all the time or avoiding each other because we would be a mirror to the other and there might be times we don’t like what we see. I completely agreed.

We were chatting a couple weeks ago and she mentioned that she wasn’t sure of me when she first started listening to the podcast. She enjoyed the interviews and got a sense that we had a similar take on things but the Marianne Williamson quote at the end of my episodes has a strong reference to God and that did not resonate with her. Also, being from the UK and living in Australia she also sees how evangelical U.S. citizens can be. I chuckled and thought this impression was very fair considering what gets blasted in the new and on facebook whenever there is a presidential election. She had a valid concern considering she didn’t know me very well.

However, it was when she heard my episode on Higher Consciousness vs. Traditional Theology that she realized that I was a spiritual person but not practicing any religion. It was then everything clicked and within a few weeks she reached out to me and we scheduled a Skype call.

I was very appreciative that she shared this with me and grateful that an unintended consequence of that episode, also inspired by a conversation with another client, allowed her to feel comfortable reaching out to me.

Okay, so that conversation happened and about a week later I was having a one to one networking meeting with a member from another BNI chapter. I had recently seen a book list he put together for his employees and it included some of my favorite books like Start with Why, The Four Agreements and The Alchemist – books that from my perspective are spiritual but not religious; along with another book that had the word “spiritual” right in the title.

Of course I had to ask him if he considered himself a spiritual person. This opened up the gates to a conversation I did not see coming. During our conversation I told him what my client recently shared with me about the perception she had of me. He asked me some great questions and picked up on the fact that this is an area I censor myself, not just on this podcast, but in my entire life.

There is such a stigma around spirituality, and exploring concepts like faith, divinity, intuition and higher callings. It’s not to say that I feel a need to talk about these things all the time but even when it’s relevant I often find myself saying very little on the subject even though the truth of the matter is I believe these things are woven into everything. From my perspective there is no conversation where these topics are not relevant. It’s like trying to pretend water is unnecessary.

In the course of a conversation I would have no problem saying, “Do you mind if we pause while I go fill up my glass of water?” but the thought of saying, “Do you mind if we pause while I check in with my intuition?”, makes me feel squeamish. I could count on one hand the number of people I would feel comfortable saying that to and I only feel comfortable because they did it first, thus giving me permission to do the same.

And this is probably something many of you have grappled with. Being Type A and likely left-brained, logical thinkers we like our facts, our case studies and what has been scientifically proven. It can be difficult for us to embrace faith because that would mean letting go of control and allowing things to unfold. We don’t like being told what to think and believe, or having anyone assign our role or cap our potential, so the dogma of religious institutions can chafe against who we are at our core.

And for most of us we have collapsed spirituality and religion into the same concept but they are distinct. Spirit is your non-physical form and your connection to something greater than yourself as an individual. Your spirituality is how you choose to explore and express that connection. Religion is a system of practicing faith and worship. Religion is structured and has agreed upon principles.

I want to be clear that I am all for a religious practice if it aligns with you and allows you to grow in your spirituality. Joining a religious community can provide support, guidance and company in your spiritual journey. I was raised Catholic and although I am not a practicing Catholic there are many things that I treasure about the Catholic faith. I can’t remember what age I was but I would guess it was somewhere between 4th and 6th grade I had a catechism teacher whom I felt comfortable with. Because of my level of comfort I would pepper her with questions. Being logical we can instantly see when things don’t add up, when they don’t make sense and if there is inconsistent information we have a hard time trusting the source.

For instance, in the Catholic faith you are only to receive communion if you are in a state of grace, meaning your sins have been absolved. And you can only receive absolution by confessing to a priest and doing your penance. So for example, if you skipped mass the week prior and haven’t made it to confession it’s a no-no to receive communion. However, during the mass right before receiving the Eucharist the entire congregation repeats the words, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Having said that, and believing in a forgiving God, you are still not to receive communion unless you have confessed to a priest.

Still, often when I am back in Worcester visiting family I will attend mass with them for several reasons. I like the people of their parish. They are warm and friendly and comical. It also makes my parents happy to see me attending mass. They do not push nor do they hide their hope that all their children will become practicing Catholics once again. They are very respectful of my choices and so I feel a freedom to attend mass. Lastly, I sometimes become very moved during the mass. When you get past the quirkiness of the Catholic mass, and some of the dogma that doesn’t resonate, you can see that it is designed to create an environment in which you can have a spiritual experience. Sometimes I feel so connected to that something greater my eyes start to water.

If you cut yourself off from the notion that there is something greater than our mortal coil you will limit what is possible for you in regard to your own development and your human experience.

I remember watching a PBS broadcast of a talk Wayne Dyer gave and he made the statement, "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

That stirred something in me and I realized I already believed that but I had never heard it articulated in that way.

That is at the core of my beliefs but it has been a journey to get here. My faith has been tested many times and I went through a time when it was shattered.

As I share this story I don’t want you to get hung up on the word God. If God resonates with you, great; if not know that in the telling of this story I could interchangeable use the words source, higher power, universe, etc. Change out God for the word that is true to you.

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