Spirituality is a ... subjective subject, no? We like to think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution on how to “enhance” one’s spiritual life. But the truth is, how one approaches spirituality is just as unique as they are. What works for one may seem awfully tedious and boring to another.
So instead of shaming or policing one’s (perceived lack of) spirituality, we should understand that there is more than one path to feel connected with God.
Besides, a mentor once told me that the Hebrews did not have a word for “spiritual” because labeling something spiritual meant that there are things that exist that wouldn’t be spiritual. They believed that everything was spiritual so there was no need to label things as spiritual (like, “how’s your spiritual life going?” would be an odd question).
With that said, I’ll share with you what makes me feel “spiritually” alive — in a personal context and then in communal context.
What invigorates my spiritual life
As a midlife crisis of sort, I bought myself a longboard. I’m fairly certain if I was financially able, I’d be one of those guys who bought a convertible to deal with the midlife crisis (... not that there’s anything wrong with that...) I never really expected how much longboarding would affect my connection with God.
I usually go skating night — when my family is asleep and when there are less cars on the road near my neighborhood — and it gives the gift of being present. The rhythmic ka-dunk ka-dunk of the board; the often warm air (it is Houston after all) blowing in my face; and the quietness around me — I don’t know. I just feel... free. When I am not present in the moment; when I’m not paying attention to what I’m doing (like texting while on the board) it has dire consequences.
But much like life (and faith), we get up every single time after we fall.
My last stop before going home is the nearby Catholic church. They have the smoothest parking lot. So I’ll just ride around for a few minutes then head to their “Garden of Mary” and sit in front of the statue of Mary holding Jesus’ body. And... just sit. Personally, those moments do a lot to remind myself of my connection to God.
But faith isn’t a privatized practice. It’s a communal practice. It’s never just Jesus, myself, and I. That’s always an incomplete faith.
Connection to others matters
Truth is, what really invigorates my faith; what really makes me feel spiritually alive is when the community of faith--the body of Christ--is working together for a greater purpose; a greater good. When we physically embody the love and presence of Christ for our neighbors — that’s when I most feel the presence of God.At the time of writing this, I attended my city’s first pride event. It was put together by the youth of our city, spearheaded by a recent high school graduate. Considering my city, the event was well attended. Unfortunately, due to previous work commitments, I showed up at the tail end of the event. There was a handful of people who represented the church — reminding the people (mostly youth) who there that they are created in the image of God and are deeply loved; reminding them that they matter to God, even if God may not matter to them.
It’s moments like these — where we can embody the love of Christ as a church — that in invigorates my faith and helps me passionately faithful.
Or... when I’m sharing a meal with a group of people. It doesn’t have to be a “spiritual” setting. But there is something spiritual about breaking bread together.
Or... when I’m having coffee with someone as they share with me their journey of life and/or faith.
Or... when the church comes together to meet an actual need within the community.
I’ve learned that my faith can only go so far when I go at it alone — when I keep Jesus solely personal and privatized.
But all throughout my life, I felt (and continue to feel) the most alive in the presence of God in a communal setting.
I’d be willing to be the same might be for you.
Rev. Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at josephyoo.com.