Spiritual Growth, Week 1 – A

Alien

Spiritual growth isn’t something I’ve ever thought much about, and it’s something I only understand in the context of organized religion. Which sounds weird, but bear with me. When I think of spiritual growth, the first thing that comes to mind is a set of memories from when I was younger, all of basically the same thing: my mother in her bedroom, crying and speaking in tongues behind a closed door after my dad leaves for work.

These were her daily prayers, and nearly every morning I would hear the crying (presumably tears of divine ecstasy) and the strange language, and I would feel embarrassed, awkward, and rather as though I were intruding on something intensely private, even though I wasn’t in the room with her. Now, growing up, I went to a Pentecostal church, and pretty much everyone was like this. Every damn Sunday and Wednesday, it was like this, people running and dancing in the aisles; people up at the altar, rocking back and forth as they prayed; people standing as they prayed, speaking in tongues. And it was awkward. Sometimes I’d sit in my seat and just sort of zone out, sometimes I’d watch and cringe, and sometimes my mom or other ladies would pull me up to the front and gods that was nerve wracking, because if you didn’t act like them, you were the strange one.

If you didn’t speak in tongues, well, you probably weren’t saved. After I got baptized (I can’t even remember why I got baptized, honestly), I remember being at a youth event at another church, surrounded by members of my youth group and the ladies who were our chaperons, and people were touching me, saying

‘Sara, let it out.’ 

‘Let the Holy Ghost flow through you.’

‘You have to let God in!’

And I remember standing there, my head tilted up, my mouth open but no words coming out. I remember them being caught in my throat because dammit, I did not want to speak in tongues, I did not want to lose myself and babble like a damn fool. I remember eventually lowering my arms, pulling away from the hands and pushing back to my seat and just staying there and watching to crush of people at the altar. I was judged for not doing things as they did, and what was worse was that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to be like them, didn’t want to do as they did, and after a while I refused to even try. This was referred to as ‘self-stagnating your growth in the Lord’.

Ugh. You know, this sounds like a monologue. I could actually submit this as a monologue for an acting class and it would be approved, but there would be a little note attached that says ‘Rambling. Form a coherent story.’ 

The point I’m trying to get to is that spiritual growth is an alien concept to me, hence the title. I avoid spirituality and religion almost entirely because of the events above, among other things that I am simply unable to describe well at this time. Church left a bad taste in my mouth, put me off organized religion and the worship of gods and spirits and it kinda left a hole in me that I’m not sure how to fill. Hell, I’d settle for a patch job at this point.

In all seriousness though, I have no spiritual growth because I have no spirituality, and that’s a problem for me. The lack of trust in Other forces is also a problem, and probably half the reason I don’t do more heavy research into subjects that I’ve been interested in for a long time. I’m holding myself back and I’m not sure how to fix myself.

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