(This is a part of my "loaves and fishes" offerings - click here to see the original post)
Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen, in his book Spiritual Direction, poses that people often go for spiritual guidance when they are unable to evade an “ultimate life question” which vexatiously festers around the corners of their lives. Some of those questions resemble these:
- What is truth?
- I'm so tired of being tired - isn't there more?
- What do I do with my loneliness? My giftedness?
- Can I be forgiven for _________?
- Will I ever be truly loved? Am I loveable? Desirable? Wanted?
- Why am I stuck in a cyclical striving for approval, affection and the need to control but never feeling I gain enough of any of these things?
- How can I overcome my addictions, shame, lust, inadequacies, sense of failure, embarrassments, etc?
- Where is God in all “this” suffering (pain, unclarity, confusion, loss etc)?
- What is my purpose on this planet? Will I ever accomplish anything meaningful?
Where do you turn when you have some of these “ultimate” life questions?
I often don't “see” these questions on the surface of my life. The busyness of life can push most of them to the back burner. But they, nonetheless, commonly lurk beneath the dark surfaces of my conscious or subconscious pain and woundings. Sometimes it is easier to avoid and/or garner pity for the pain than to take a look at it and the deeper questions being revealed underneath. These questions are rarely gentle...they are more haunting...I think that is because some deep part of my soul is crying out to be truly freed to live fiercely and freely. But the doubts feel threatening...will they expose me as a fraud? a failure? a freak?
It is easy to see doubt (i.e. my questions) as the opposite of faith – where really, thinking I am certain of my own ability to answer/validate my life (and/or to avoid the questions while making up my own fictitious estimation of validation) is the opposite of faith.
Really our restless questions ARE the essence of our faith...will we turn to the Creator or culture for answers?
- Consider slowing long enough to sit with some of your “pain” - underneath are your “ultimate life questions.” What are they?
- Now consider paying attention to the core, soulish part of you – where God, your Lover and Maker reside, and ask, “Lord, what are the longings beneath my questions? What is my soul crying out for?” (just listen...do not journal during this time, be attentive to body, soul, mind...)
- After 10 minutes of silence...journal your experience. What did this time reveal to you about God? About yourself? How do you feel about it?
No doubt, these questions are daunting to face alone. It is no wonder that few actually take the time to journey to these deeper places...I long to companion those who long to intentionally face and live their questions...I should not be surprised that so few are "signing up" to do so. This is NOT easy. But neither is getting your body in shape to climb Mt. Hood.
If you are asking ultimate life questions - trying to “figure life out” - or ready to consider some of these deeper longings of your soul, please consider journeying with a soul friend – a trained spiritual director. Spiritual Direction is an ancient practice in the church – where you companion with a person who journeys with you and lends you courage to pay attention to all that your life – your true life – is voicing and longing to voice and contribute to a world in need. A Spiritual Director does not direct your life – but (s)he will help you overhear the nuances of your own soul in tandem with the True Director, the Holy Spirit. For more info or questions, click here or on the links below.
- creating unhurried space for the soul
- soul care retreats, resources and coaching