Perhaps it’s not a general rule, but spiritual growth can be quite a lonely, or even alienating experience in this 21st century (Western) world. Seems like the likely reason for this is that you’re shaped spiritually by the people around you for the start of your life, then when you “connect dots” that your environment hasn’t, it can create a divide in your depth of inquisition. If you’re inquisitive enough to pursue a “journey”, you might just grow out of the shallower ties. Especially if they don’t serve your growth forward.
Then you find yourself on the “cutting edge” of your psyche. You might naturally feel frustrated at the gulf between you and your peers. The attachment here is to your old self and the relationship dynamic you felt. If you stick to your guns, it’ll be a valuable opportunity to help them transform too. Or see if your new shift is compatible with your physical environment.
You might also find your old circles turn their back on you. You might have nuked you relate-ability in the process. It might seem quite intimidating. You might want to run back to the devil you know, vs. the devil you’re only getting to know now. Take a breath, follow the fear up your threads of conscious thought.
What I’ve realized about fear, especially in these moments, is that it represents an unknown in your psyche. All you need to do is hold in there and not lose sight, every step you take in the direction of your fear is literally expanding your psyche. I’ll mention an anecdote below to illustrate this point. But it’s very much like discovering a new map in a real-time strategy game.
As for your people? … have faith, they’ll either catch up through rubbing up against your psyche or they’ll give you the space to continue your journey & better people will come. You’ll find your people if you’re looking.
I have an old friend like this. An unapologetic free-thinker that follows his Truth, as much as it might go against the grain or confuse his loved ones. Most people see him as quirky, a bit strange but a good guy. …But he knows what he wants out of life, is well on his way to knowing all the UN languages, travels at every opportunity and gets strange looks from people when he shares his lifestyle. Personally, I think part of the “haters” are jealous of the freedom with which he conducts himself.
I take tabs on the free-thinkers I encounter in my life. I know in one way or another they’re my people. And they’re friends that put gas in my tanks, not the opposite.
Anyways, this friend started introducing me to HIS friends, and its been quite refreshing. And his friends bringing me into their fold. A lot of them are rooted in Christian faith, and as such, they’ve really given me a new appreciation for the church. These are people I’ve been able to talk about some of the strangest things in life with a sense of mutual understanding.
I went to my first ever Bible study and was astounded by how deep the conversations go with this group of 20-some-odd people. I could share bits of my story to a group of nodding heads, while most of my friends to this point might tune out to matters of the supernatural. We literally started the meeting with “Testimony” — an opportunity to share with the group moments where we felt God’s work in our lives. This notion would make some atheists wince.
We studied the “Parable of talents” from Matthew 25:14–30, a parable where a Master gives his three servants talents according to their abilities. 1, 2 and 3 talents are given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The 2nd and 3rd take those talents and double them. The 1st takes his talent and buries it to play it safe and not loose it. When Master returns, the 2nd and 3rd servant get praise and rewarded for their faith, while the one who played it safe tried to explain himself to the Master and got punished.
Remember that notion about fear I mentioned earlier? This is a precise example of this. And it’s implied that the 2nd and 3rd servant have prepared themselves for the afterlife properly. And I was able, in this group, to share quite an interesting experience I felt in parallel to this. When I found the notion of God in my life, it was unexpected. Immediately after, I welled with a sense of fear — what did I do to deserve this gift? What if I lose it?
It took me a few moments to get my composure and persistently reason my way out of this fear. In that moment though, I knew exactly how the 1st servant felt. When given something extraordinary, will you hide it, or let it shine? This parable warns of this fork in the road and cautions the reader to root themselves in faith over fear.
Seeing as how I’m writing about this and my other experiences to the world and sharing my life with my friends and close ones, I’d like to think I’m growing this work to grow and overcome fear in myself and others. I still encounter trivial fears in my everyday life, and acknowledge that some are getting the best of me. But I do have faith that I’ll eventually put in the work to overcome them and live a free life. I can literally see and talk about them — why the heck are they still so hard to overcome? Fear can be a habit, I suppose. Still, it’s pretty amusing to stop and acknowledge how trivial those fears are, and how silly I am for letting those little bugs turn into monsters.
All in all, let your spirit find your people & follow the threads of fear in your life head-on — they might just lead you to a beautiful place.
On a last note, this church community had us write each other prayer requests. Little notes we’d draw out of a hat with what we wanted help praying for. I picked Liza’s note. What caught my eye wasn’t her prayer request, but a quote she put on the outside of the note: “His goodness and mercy are chasing after you.” — Psalm 23:6. I love that!
…And tying into fear, when I found God myself, that fear string was exactly what gave Him away. The timing of the author, so to speak. …Among a few other things, but that’s probably something for you to see for yourself. ;)