The way we nourish ourselves determines our ability to shine a light in the world; And nourishment doesn't just come in the form of food and drink and sunshine. It's equally important to nourish your spirit. What made you feel nourished this year? (Prompt credit: Kat McNally)
2013 was definitely a year of being spiritually thirsty; I was still struggling over the concept of faith and having God in my life, and what that meant. For anyone that has ever questioned their beliefs, living in the age of technology can make the journey even more perplexing. Instead of just books or sermons, there are now tweets, personal blogs, and podcasts dissecting every Biblical or spiritual topic imaginable. The constant what-if scenarios can drive any person crazy. And I realized that maybe that was the problem; I needed to stop enveloping myself in all the fluff and get back to the basics, specifically with prayer and having quiet time again.
When my friend passed away earlier this summer, I was in agony. I felt like I didn't have very many people to lean on at the time because it seemed like hardly anyone around me wanted to acknowledge the situation, let alone talk about it. I was never taught how to deal with death as a child/teenager, particularly when it's sudden and unexpected. Subconsciously, I understood that my faith (however much or little) was the only substantial thing I had to cope. While it might have seemed typical that I was only turning to God when life became nearly impossible, it was also the beginning of an understanding and a sense of peace that I'd been longing to feel for several years.
It didn't happen right away; in the days following the accident, I was numb and kept thinking that this all was just a nightmare. How do I pray? What do I even pray about? Memorizing Bible verses and relying on cliche Christian phrases felt like using band-aids and Neosporin. I needed to grieve. I needed to allow myself to hurt. But there was little to no room for that in the time that I was at home, at least that's how I interpreted what I was being told.
Going back to my apartment was like army-crawling out of a minefield, but slowly I got a grip and began to develop a routine. Mornings were spent writing in my journal or reading a passage in my Bible. Sometimes I played meditation music in the background. Sometimes I prayed out loud. And other times I simply wept and could only ask God to hear what was on my heart because I couldn't articulate my thoughts. I went to church every so often, but there are some things about church that still make me anxious and fidgety, but that is for another time.
Despite the frustration and uncertainty of that time (my writing gig and main reason I had stayed at school for the summer was constantly up in the air) I appreciated being able to meet with God wherever I felt safe and comfortable. It did not make the pain go away, but gave me a way to process it. It did not make everything better, but it did give me some clarity. For once, I was not measuring my faith based on a sermon or whatever was going on around me; I was looking inward.
And as scary as it is, nourishment has also come from being vulnerable; there are quite a few people that I've become incredibly close to this year because I was willing to be open with them about a lot of things. It was hard because I hadn't done it in such a long time, at least without feeling rushed, like I had to put it all out there in a month of meeting them. I took my time and was careful that I letting them in for the right reasons, which is where I learned a lot about connection versus attachment. Attachment is where two people become close rather quickly, and more so that they do so in hopes that the relationship will be the solution to either one or both persons' problems. Connection takes its time; it can be instant, sure, but you don't truly get to know a person within a day or so. I'm fascinated by people and think it's great when you can still learn about them, even after you've known each other for a while.
Not only has it helped me deepen relationships, but it's opened my eyes to one of my biggest struggles: the struggle of being able to say "I need you." However, that is also for another post down the road.
But that's how nourishment works; you keep watering/feeding yourself, and hopefully it becomes second nature. When your nurture yourself (and allow others to nurture you) you begin to no longer make decisions out of fear, but of love and faith.