To be on a spiritual journey – as opposed to merely being religious – means that from time to time you will find yourself with an outgrown spirituality. By its very nature faith must be evolving if it is to be dynamic and life-giving. Sadly, we have often come to think of faith as certainty – something static and something to be held firmly so it doesn’t change. But all this does is turn the inevitable shifts in equilibrium that are always part of a faith journey into crises.
Outgrown theologies will usually be at the core of outgrown spiritualities. This shouldn’t be a surprise since spirituality is our way of being in relation to the transcendent, and theology is our way of understanding that relationship. Embracing these ways of understanding when they no longer make sense or bring us life keeps us stuck. This is the point where we need to release outgrown understandings and allow new ones to emerge.
Doing this sort of internal housecleaning sometimes leads people to respond to earlier understandings with hostility or embarrassment. They might think of themselves as stupid or naïve. This is both unfortunate and unnecessary. It means they haven’t yet come to terms with their story. They are having trouble recognizing that the gifts they received at earlier stages of their journey were mediated by those older ways of understanding. And they are having trouble honouring the ways in which God met them at earlier stages of consciousness development.
Be gentle with yourself. Embrace your past. Unless you do so you will never transcend it. Trust that everything belongs – every part of your past and every part of your present. Together they all make up your unique life and form the soil out of which you forge your unique journey. Dare to trust that everything that has happened to you has been necessary for you to arrive where you are.
But while you must honour where you have been, you must also honour your present reality. And if that reality is a deep knowing that the old ways of understanding, believing and living out your faith no longer work you must be prepared to release them.
Letting go of old outgrown ways of understanding and relating to the transcendent horizon of life is not losing faith. It’s allowing your faith to evolve. Fear sometimes keeps people from taking this step but our real fear should be the damage to our souls that comes from settling for outgrown spiritualities.
Pay attention to your heart. If your heart tells you that you need to let go in order to soar, have the courage to release that which is dead to make room for the new shoots that are already emerging within you.