Average Reading Time: 2.55 Mins.
I have a friend right now who is struggling with her spiritual development. Her growth is taking her farther and farther away from how she was raised and what her family and community embraces.
Though what she is exploring feels incredible on a personal level, she is torn by the anxiety that it will create discord with those whom she holds dear.
The thing is, her story isn’t new.
I’ve had other friends with similar fears, and more acquaintances that I can count have described the same angst. Besides, it’s not as if I haven’t struggled with comparable issues.
Anyone at this juncture seems to feel stuck in the act of looking ahead and looking behind, unable to make a decision either way. The choice is walking away from what feels so right in your soul to return to the safety and familiarity of an established support system, or taking a risk and keep going.
Believing that you’re doing the right thing can be hard and sticking to your guns when those closest to you don’t understand can be even tougher.
Spiritual growth is no exception, and this may be the hardest task of all. I have seen this over and over among Westerners from Judeo-Christian backgrounds who develop an interest in Eastern thought.
My mother is a white American who was raised Catholic and my father is Hindu born immigrant from India. Both have encouraged me to do what works for me, and I was not raised with any particular doctrine. Hence, a yoga class does not seem like a big deal to me.
I have been surprised by how many of my peers are nervous about the techniques used in something so inoffensive and even say their families would condemn it.
Another friend related her mother’s warning: “Every time you chant ‘Om’, you’re letting the devil in”. While this is not something I understand on a personal level, I have seen how much it hurts when people feel like this new way of seeing things is making them blossom.
And this is by no means the only scenario where loved ones may be puzzled or disapproving.
Some people belong to a church and simply outgrow their current community. Maybe they recognize a degree of hypocrisy or just don’t feel comfortable with how the church is being run. They know it is time to try another parish, but are afraid of upsetting the apple cart.
Some people instinctively know they need time away from their community for independent soul-searching and have to deal with inquiries from others (and sometimes gossip) as to why.
For others, it is just the opposite.
Maybe spirituality has never played a significant role in their lives, but something changed and suddenly their spiritual practice becomes very important to them. Their support network may not value existential endeavors, and could even be skeptical or mistrusting of the shift.
When we embrace an inner awakening, we begin to examine our lives and make changes to match our new perspective. We become more deliberate about how time is spent and more conscious of living in an ethical manner.
In this process, you will find your beliefs and preferences evolving.
Suddenly people who were fun to be around don’t seem as appealing. Attitudes you once embraced seem superficial, and activities you used to like seem like a waste of time. These changes can cause quite a bit of friction.
Some people just won’t get it and will challenge you, and others will just be confused and maybe concerned. Some may try to maintain the relationship, but are unable tolerate the new you and meet your emerging needs. Others will surprise you and be much more open than you anticipated. In some cases, the people you feared would reject you are the ones who become seekers as well.
At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with yourself.
Anyone with life experience knows that sacrificing what feels good to you to please another only works temporarily. The best thing you can do is be true to yourself. When you fully commit to this, everything else will fall into place naturally. When you choose to be strong and follow that inner wisdom, you will understand certain things in your life must be discarded so there is room for something vibrant and life-giving to take its place.
Your discretion will tell you which people will come with you, which people to distance yourself from, and which people you do not need at all.
The wonderful thing is you will meet new souls along the way more aligned with your way of thinking and more enthusiastic about personal transformation.
So have no fear- the support you need will always appear as long as you are willing to take the leap.