When I graduated from college and moved out on my own, my parents expressed more concern about whether I’d found a church than whether I’d found a job. That’s not to say that they didn’t think employment was important. I assume that they were concerned that I might not consider my religious life a priority.
And, to be honest, they were correct.
Still, despite the fact that I didn’t feel particularly compelled to find a church to attend, I knew they would continue to put pressure on me as long as I resisted. I didn’t want to go to a church like theirs, the one I’d grown up in. If I had to go to church, I wanted to find one on my own terms.
Ultimately, that’s how I ended up Catholic.
But in the long run it didn’t stick. I only found marginally more satisfaction and meaning there than I had in the Protestant church I grew up in.
For most of my life, my entire spiritual path had to do with what others expected me to do and believe. In many ways, that was the entire point of the religion I grew up in. Do what god wants, what your parents want, what your church wants, because obedience is essentially the most important virtue of all. After all, the fall of humanity was caused by disobedience. Obedience, then, is how you redeem yourself.
Obedience is not, however, a step on the path towards meaning. For those of us who want to find something fulfilling, meaningful, purposeful in our lives, the way to get there cannot start by doing what others tell you to do. This is why there are so many religions, so many traditions in the world. One way, one method will not work for everyone. If we all conform to the same routine and the same expectations, the vast majority will become dissatisfied and disillusioned and look for another way.
More and more of us are looking for that other way outside established traditions. I am not alone in deciding that real meaning, real spiritual growth must be found by looking for inspiration and guidance and wisdom in all parts of life, all ways of thinking, all types of experiences rather than by following what someone else claims to be The Way. That is exactly the point of this blog, my writing projects, and my spiritual life as a whole. I don’t have truth to offer, only insight. I think that by sharing our thoughts and thinking deeply about the lives we live, we will all experience something closer to truth in each moment that passes.obedience, personal essay, religion, spirituality
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