The Pagan Experience asked some questions on this topic, so I’ll be answering them in the standard Q&A style.
What do these two words mean to you? Spiritual means a faith structure in some higher power than human. Growth means changing and maturing with age and/or experience. So spiritual growth to me, means growing and maturing your faith over a lifetime. My faith has certainly changed over my lifetime. I started out being raised Christian by my mom and dad. During puberty and shortly after, during my early teens, I got curious about other faiths and started reading and doing some research. I decided Christianity wasn’t for me (though I do acknowledge that is where my roots lay), and started going toward Wicca. I continued to research and read, and it grew into more of a universal eclectic Pagan faith. Then later into my 20s and early 30s, more science got introduced into my faith, and as it stands now I don’t have faith as much as scientific theories. I’m not nearly educated enough in all the scientific details of the way life and the universe works, so I can’t put it all together in a way that satisfies my mind. Which is why I’m here, exploring faith once again. I’d like to get back in touch with the spiritual side of life. I’d like to feel like I belong, and like I’m a part of the bigger picture. Science has made me feel small and insignificant, and that is certainly not what I need in my life. I need love. It may seem like my spirituality got stunted somewhere, but honestly I feel this will strengthen it, in the long run. Because I’ve gone down this road, and the curiosity no longer exists to take this path again.
How do you measure your growth? To me, spiritual growth is an entirely personal, internal standard. I believe the spectrum would be completely lost and godless to completely secure and comfortable with your place in the universe. No one else can tell you how you feel, so that has to be measured internally. I’ve been at both sides of the spectrum, and I’m most familiar with being somewhere in the middle, as I’m sure most people are. Currently, I feel pretty close to the lost side. But I’m working my way back up.
What supports it? Supporting your growth would be doing what feels right. If you appreciate and find value in something, such as prayer, meditation, education, research, ritual, etc, than those are the things you should do that will support your growth. For me, writing and exploring my own thoughts and feelings on the topic of spirituality and faith are what feels right, for now. I’ll continue to write and think through things, and research and read what others think and feel through this blogging challenge. And then I’ll put it all together in a way that makes sense to me. I don’t believe there are any rights or wrongs in this area. Its just what feels right.
What challenges its potential? Challenges to spiritual growth could be major life changes, traumatic events such as a death or divorce, disability, or even something as small as someone verbally discouraging you for what you believe. Sometimes these challenges can turn out to be an opportunity for growth, but other times they just knock your faith down further. My faith first started to slip when my fiance passed away in 2009. I can’t honestly explain my frame of mind at that point in time any longer, but I was extremely depressed and felt very betrayed by “God” or whatever controls life and death. I felt like to life was too fragile and unpredictable to be trusted, and it scared me away from any trust I had in life whatsoever. I couldn’t commit to anything in my life, not even my beliefs. Over time I started to gain back a little, but even to this day I know and feel life is way too short and fragile. More recently I found out I have a pituitary tumor, and even though its not fatal, I had a very hard time accepting it for the first couple of weeks. It made me look my own mortality in the face, and that is what has lead me back to trying to find my spirituality. So the health scare was a challenge that gave me a push in the right direction.
How does it effect change in others? I don’t feel that my personal spiritual growth effects others around me unless I directly talk about or demonstrate my faith in front of them. My direct family, like my kids and husband, would have a much more direct effect just by listening to what I think, and witnessing any rituals or readings I may do. But other, such as my co-workers, friends and acquaintances don’t even need to know anything about what I believe. Therefore it has no effect on them.