When my younger sister was in the hospital, decades ago, I walked into the room to see her hooked up to tubes, inside a plastic tent. After I fainted and ended up on a gurney in the hallway, I remember going with my Dad to the chapel, inside the hospital. My sister’s inability to breathe, because her throat had swollen closed from an allergic reaction to a prescription, along with the medical intervention that followed, will be a trauma that our family will never forget.
That incident was also the first time that I witnessed my family praying, even though they didn’t attend church regularly. I watched as they begged God to make my sister better. It was as if they would trade their own lives to heal her. They were desperately sobbing and frantic for a positive outcome. Despite this experience, I still didn’t quite understand the difference between spirituality and religion, for decades.
When we are experiencing any stressful incident, the illness of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, an accident that is threatening someone’s life or the death of someone we care about, we often reach out to God, or whatever higher power we might call it or believe in, in order to ask for assistance. It is usually in our times of need that we call in the reinforcements to beef up our strength, our faith or our stamina, to handle life’s painful times.
This makes perfect sense and it is what I have done for most of my life. The problem is that when things don’t end up with a positive outcome, we might also tend to blame God, or whatever higher power we believe in. This can be equally as detrimental as not taping into our spirituality at all. This can make us feel disempowered and lost, as if our prayers didn’t work.
I have come to understand that our time on this planet is filled with ups and downs, no matter how much we pray or have faith. We are not immune from painful events or difficult life moments because we pray or have a connection with God. We can; however, feel more supported, cared about, strengthened and comforted, when we are open to a Divine connection and implement the wisdom.
I really wish that I had known this sooner. I really wish that I didn’t think that if I prayed hard enough or was faithful enough, I would be spared the agony of hurt or confusion or trauma or sadness. Instead, I may have been less bitter or angry with God, about all of the injustices and pain in the world. Instead, I may have spent less time blaming and more time coping better, supporting others, healing or moving forward.
I have been making a point of staying more connected to the Divine when I wake in the morning, throughout my day and before I go to sleep. I see my Divine connection as strengthening my spiritual muscles. I know that I am not always faced with things that are heavy or traumatic, but when I am, I will hopefully have worked on my spirituality enough to assist me in coping better.
I will hopefully have faith, during all that life throws at me, exude gratitude, despite any pain, express joy as much as I can and have the wisdom and guidance I need to handle any obstacles that are placed in my way. I now see my relationship with the Divine as nurturing a daily, budding relationship, instead of a weekly visit to a church, as I used to believe when I was younger.
Whatever we may be grieving from, whether it be the loss of a relationship, a family, a loved one, an identity, a job, an older version of ourselves, a dream or whatever may be causing is a feeling of loss, abandonment, confusion or sadness, may we decide to strengthen our Divine connection, so that we will always have support and encouragement and companionship in our times of need.
Since we will all have difficult times, throughout our lives, this is something that we can all benefit from, even if we have been jaded or disgruntled by organized religion or religious beliefs that have divided many citizens of the world. It sure seems to help me feel better.
May you hopefully have time, even for a few minutes, to connect with silence, quiet, nature, serenity, peace and calm this weekend, or week ahead and identify what you feel grateful for. With the longing inside of all of us, to feel cared about, connected, nurtured, safe, understood, loved, significant or important, building that bond can only contribute to our health and wellness. When we nurture that Divine connection, we will never really feel alone, even if we are.
‘The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?’ ~ Buddha