On Being Spiritual

Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote that “the spiritual life can be lived in as many ways as there are people.” I find it interesting that once people develop a belief system, it sometimes comes with the idea that if others do not believe in the same way, those other people are wrong.  How they interpret scripture is wrong.  How they live their life is wrong.  Ironically, when God created all that we can see and know, God created great diversity.  Each living creature is different in some way.  And as it pertains to human beings, we are not only different in our appearance, but we are also different in our desires.  And it is in those differences that God will reveal what is both good for us and what is bad for us.  And this is where we get into trouble in our relationships.  How you may ask? Well…say we have been convicted that something is bad for us…let’s say chocolate milk.  Unfortunately, our tendency is that we interpret those convictions to mean if it is bad for me then it is bad for everyone.  This is simply not accurate.  While there may be a few universals, most of the time those things that entice us…those things that come between us and doing what is right or even coming between us and God…are different.  What may be bad for me may not be bad for you.  Because the reality is that God works in each life in a way that is appropriate for that particular life.  And since, according to Jeremiah 1:5 that says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” God knows us better than we know ourselves.  So, it would make sense that God will deal with each of us according to who we are, according to who God created us to be.

Our job is to discern those things in our life that distract us away from God and keep us from living our best life. The question becomes: what distracts us? What keeps us from living our best life? Once we can answer those questions then we can work on what we need to work on.  Hopefully in our discernment we also recognize that these are the things/issues WE need to work through and the people around us have their own things/issues God is calling them to work through since we are all different.  God really knew what God was doing when God chose to make each one of us unique.  We are not cookie cutters.  For that I just want to pause and say: Thank you God!

Finally, as we wrestle with our own foibles, make an intentional effort to not judge yourself too harshly for having them and even more importantly don’t judge others for their foibles.  Just like us, they have enough on their plate to deal with and work through. No one needs our judgement heaped on them any more than we need theirs!

My daughter has a saying she uses.  I have no idea where she picked it up. But I like it all the same: “you do you.” It is a great reminder that we are all unique, and we all do life differently.  So…instead of condemning one another in judgment…let’s support each other through whatever issues we are working on. Let’s all stop trying to make everyone else into exact replicas of one another and give each person the breathing room they need to become the best version of themselves they can become.


Pastor Beth

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