I absolutely love going to the beach.
Growing up, it was part of my family’s tradition to take a summer vacation every other year to some sunny, sandy place, like the beaches of Florida or Alabama. I’ve also been to the beaches of Hawaii and Japan. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve heard the waves, felt the sand, and smelled the salty sea air, but I’ll get back to somewhere sunny and warm and sandy one of these days.
I love swimming in the ocean, enjoying the deeper waters, even though it terrifies me at times, but I also love to stand in the ankle deep water, feeling the waves rush in and pull back, bringing sand out from under my feet and new sand in to bury them once more.
There’s a process that takes place when you’re standing in the sand. You begin with your feet planted, usually a bit of sand between your toes. Sometimes you dig your toes in; other times you simply stand there and wait. You know though that, in that moment, you feel secure of where you’re standing.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the water pulls out, and that little piece of secure land you’re standing on gets pulled right out from under your feet. It really is one of the weirdest feelings. As the water goes, so does the sand, and there is nothing you can do about it.
You’re stuck with two small holes, where your feet are standing, and you have two choices. You can take a couple of steps and try to adjust to this new, less secure position, or you can choose to wait it out. You know that in just a moment, the water is going to rush back in.
And then it does, bringing with it a whole new pile of sand and shells and other small bits of the shore that were a little further out. No matter if you adjusted before, or you decided to wait it out, you have to step and adjust now. Sometimes the adjustment is almost unnoticeable, and you do it without thinking. At other times, a bigger wave brings in an amount of sand that is larger than usual, and you’re almost walking a bit to compensate.
You’re back on secure ground, your feet planted once more, but after you’ve stood on the shoreline, even for just a few moments, you begin to understand the process. You can only be secure for so long. The waves will come in and go out, bringing in security and taking it away, and you know you’ll have to keep adjusting.
All of this talk of the beach and the ocean is leading to a point, or maybe I’m just thinking of warm waters and hot sands to combat the cold we’ve finally received here in Indiana. As I remember the feel of the sand beneath my feet and the ebb and flow of the waves, I can’t help but reflect on my spiritual journey over the past couple of years and my desire for seeking after and discovering truth.
At first, I had no desire to expand; I was secure in my truth, and nothing was going to change that. Now, however, I am always wanting to go beyond what I already know and discover new and more profound things.
And now I am going to get all metaphorical. You see, the process that involves searching for and discovering truth reminds me a lot of the process you feel while standing on the shoreline. Each step that you go through when standing on the shore can be felt in one way or another as truth is being discovered and learned.
- You stand secure in your truth. It seems that nothing can move you from your position.
- Something more powerful comes along and pulls your truth out from under you.
- You can try to adjust to the emptier feeling of not being secure, or you can wait and see what happens.
- New truth pours in, mixing with the truth that is still there, that part of your truth that wasn’t quite pulled away.
- It’s time to adjust, to become planted and secure once more.
- But you know you can’t stay secure for long. As the waves ebb and flow, you become used to them, and you learn to be ready for the next one.
There are some people who are lucky, and they never have to experience a kind of staunch desire to stick to a certain truth. There are people who are fluid, and as they learn new truth, they gladly accept it, adjust, and get ready for the next discovery. If you are one of these people, the first few steps of this process may not apply to you, but if you are holding on to a truth, I know the feeling you are going through.
My secure truth was conservative Christianity. I had unshakable faith that:
- we are all sinners in need of a savior
- God loved us enough to send a sacrifice, His only son to be that savior.
- Because Christ lived a sinless life, He was the perfect sacrifice, and God accepted it on behalf of all people.
- If and only if God called you to believe in Him, and if you followed that calling, you became His child and could inherit the kingdom of Heaven. I believed in the model of predestination.
- Once in God’s kingdom of people, we were daily sanctified. We are still sinners, but God is daily making us more like Christ.
There was a lot more that I believed, but that was the nitty gritty of it. Even before I became a conservative Christian, I was a non-practicing Christian, so being secure in that truth was easy enough for me.
Everyone was a sinner in need of a savior, and it was my job to bring that news to those I loved. It was urgent, imperative, and my faith in this God, and this story for mankind was unshakable.
There are probably some of you who are in this stage, and that’s ok. If you are in this stage, and you’re comfortable where you are, then you may not have to worry about your security being pulled away from you. Sometimes that can be for the best. For those of us who know the process or are past the first step, you know what is coming next, and it’s definitely not comfortable or easy in any way.
Security is pulled away
This is the stage that begins the process of spiritual expansion. There is sometimes an event in your life that will trigger the start to this process, or maybe it begins to gradually take place. In either case, the truth you once knew starts to feel far too limiting, and you begin to desire a freer way of looking at everything around you. This transition for a lot of people can be difficult and lead to fear or anxiety.
The event that triggered it for me was the healing of my mother, after she had been very ill for a few months. In a matter of a couple of weeks, she had gone from staying in the ICU to being healthier than anyone could have thought possible. She still had to recover from the symptoms of her illness, but the cause of it was healed.
My mom was, and still is not, a Christian. I began to have questions: if God chooses who goes to Heaven and who does not, then why would he save a non-Christian and not save that person in the spiritual sense? Doubts about this limited form of faith began to surface, and I knew I had to find a less restricted and more inclusive form of belief.
The truth I had known for so long was being unraveled, and I was trying desperately to hold on to the tattered remnants while simultaneously desiring something more. It was one of the most confusing times of my life. Not only was this truth being pulled out from under me, but I knew I could never go back to that exact form of belief again.
This part of the process is the hardest; there is no sugarcoating or getting around it. When everything that tells you definitively how to think when it comes to the universe and the meaning of life, is ripped away from you, there is a sense in which it can be freeing, but it can also leave you feeling adrift and lost. In the midst of all this confusion, there are choices that have to be made.
Decision or indecision
This stage is where the emptiness is felt most strongly. You once had a truth that you clung to, but that has been pulled away. There are many ways you could choose to act during this time.
I prayed to God, a lot. I cried, I asked Him many times to take these doubts away from me. I wanted my truth back, but there was a part of me that felt relieved. I was allowed to not know, to not have a grasp on everything. This was a feeling that I wanted more of, and then I would feel guilty for thinking the feeling was wonderful. If I could end up in Hell for my unbelief, then I needed to find my old truth and quickly.
So I stood and waited, indecisively, unsure of which way to go. I could either adjust to a life of simply having no idea, I could try my hardest to find my old truth, or I could wait and hope there was something better, which is what I did.
Once I finally made it through the doubt and fear and uncertainty, I began to reach out to others who I felt had a way that I could get behind. I wanted to trade one truth for another, pull off the label I had been using and stick on something newer and more progressive.
This is the stage of decision making. Will you let your doubts get in the way? Will you stand paralyzed with fear? Will you decide that you don’t even need a truth and adjust yourself to the emptiness of no truth? Will you proactively begin to seek out something new? All of these choices are yours and yours alone, and everyone’s process is going to be different.
For those of us who choose not to dig our feet in to the sand and adjust to no truth, the next part of the process is where things really get interesting. It’s time for the spiritual awakening.
New truth rushes in
The more common name for this stage is the spiritual awakening. You’ve been reaching out, thirsty for new truth, hoping to find something that will bring you clarity in a confusing time in your life. Maybe you tried to readjust to this emptiness, to accept having no truth of your own.
In either case, there are many times when truth will rush in, taking the place of what you knew before, filling in the holes of your once sound and secure truth. This can be both extremely exhilarating and overwhelming as you try and put all of the pieces together.
When my spiritual awakening came to pass, I couldn’t believe there was so much out there that I simply had never heard of or had never studied in any depth. As I devoured books and talked with person after person about all of the new things I was learning, I began to feel that just maybe, things could keep making sense. Everything was changing: my energy, my perceptions, my beliefs. I was noticing more about the world than I ever had.
If I talked about all of the signs of a spiritual awakening, we’d be here for a whole other post’s worth of information. I have, in fact, already written a little post about some signs you’ll notice while waking up spiritually. Though it can be difficult and all of this newness can overwhelm you, this stage of the process can be one of the most fulfilling journeys of your life. Embrace it and go with it. I can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where it can lead you.
Learning to adjust
The confusion, the constant questions, the desire to read everything you can get your hands on about spirituality is starting to ebb. You are becoming more secure in the truth you are learning. It’s making sense, and you start to understand that you actually do have more answers than you expected you would.
The adjusting stage is that moment when you know that you’ll have to take a couple of small steps to make room for the new. Otherwise, it could bury you and take over. It’s an acceptance, a taking control of all that you have been learning and will continue to learn.
The hardest part about the adjustment stage is sharing your discoveries with others. Though you have come to accept where you are in your journey, there might be friends or family or others who are close to you that don’t have the open mind that you’ve recently acquired. After I learned to accept that I could never go back to a conservative Christian mindset, and that I had expanded beyond that point, the next step was to try and adjust and let others know where I was coming from.
This can be one of the most difficult things you do. You might lose people you love; others may not understand you at all. You should never express your views in a forceful way; simply tell them where you are on your journey, and ask that they please understand. This fear of letting others know was a huge struggle of mine, so soon, I will have a whole post devoted to this topic and how to combat this fear. You should totally be on the lookout.
the fluidity of truth
You can never hold on to the same bit of truth for long. The more you expand, the more you will come to realize that the universe is humongous and all-encompassing, as far as we know, and that’s not even getting in to what’s beyond our universe.
This whole “finding your truth” thing is a journey, one that, whether you like it or not, will continue until the very end of your life when you finally get to go home and see exactly what the truth is. It’s ok for us to say, right now, “I don’t always know.” That’s why the universe is a mystery, a vast, unexplored mystery that we should be excited to solve.
In this part of the truth seeking process, hopefully you will begin to accept the fluidity of truth, and that even in the moments when we don’t always feel secure, we are still secure in the fact that the universe has us and it always will. We will continue to learn and grow and the waves will come in and they will go out again. Sometimes that can be confusing. Sometimes it can be incredible.
In the end, know this:
- You are expanding.
- Your mind is opening.
- You are connecting to the most incredible source: the energy of the universe itself.
- You can use this new mindset to bring about abundance, light, and prosperity.
- Even if you think you know as much as you can, with an expanded mindset, you will never stop learning.
This whole process is not always linear, it’s not always a come and go wave pattern, but as I stand on the shoreline, or unfortunately have to remember standing on the shoreline, I know that the waves remind me of my journey.
I had a secure, unshakable truth that I believed in without fail. That truth was pulled away, and I had to decide how to proceed. New truth came in, almost buried me in its newness and beauty. So I had to back up a bit, step up on to the new sand, sink back in to it, wiggle my toes, and become secure again.
And, I came to realize something: you will always grow. You will never think the same way you did a couple of years ago. If you are willing to have an open mind, the universe will surprise you in so many incredible ways.
A little story and discovering truth
The waters of Osaka bay in Japan were extremely calm. I was almost disappointed as I stood on the shoreline, listening to the small waves break, and felt the bits of sand move and shift under my feet. It had been a busy couple of days, and we finally had a day to visit the beaches. I mean, Japan is a group of islands, so not visiting the beach at least once, to me was almost a criminal offense.
I like strong waves, even if the water is unpredictable and makes me nervous at times. The tiny waves we were dealing with left me a bit underwhelmed. So, I stood on the shore, wondering what I could do in such calm waters, when a larger object than I was used to brushed up against my foot, washed in by a larger wave than was the norm for that day.
Being totally blind, this naturally freaked me out a little bit; I couldn’t just glance down to see what it was. So, what would any human do when faced with a big red button or in my case, a large, rough object on my foot that could potentially hurt me? I picked it up. We all press the button, right? Silly, curious humans…
The universe surprises us
I was holding a beautiful, live starfish in my hands. I couldn’t believe it. I had touched a dead, dried out starfish in my high school science class, and my science teacher explained that these creatures simply lay on the ocean floor, being washed about by the waves.
Everyone gathered around and I showed off my find. People passed it around, and though it’s probably not super rare to find a starfish, the fact that one was deposited right on to my feet was beautiful to me.
In the same way that the ocean can wash up treasures, right to your waiting feet if you’re patient enough, so will the universe continue to show you incredible truths and knowledge that you didn’t know before.
Meditate, read books, talk to people on a deep level, pray to God or source or the goddess, the angels, your spirit guides, walk through nature, be on the lookout for signs. Do these things, be open-minded, and just wait for the treasures to come to you.
Your feet are in the sand. Step lightly. Keep adjusting, and be ready for that starfish when it comes.
How about you? Where are you on your truth journey? What things helped you to get through the hard parts of your spiritual journey? Are you happy with where you are now?