At a cross-roads of identity and spirituality, disruptive (mischievous?) and uncomfortable questions can burble to the surface. This can happen at a crisis time in our lives. Sometimes it occurs when we reach a certain age, or milestone. Often, our own life is asking us to pay attention: Who am I? Who is God? Is God? When the things that we’ve always believed to be true shifts or wobbles just a little, it can feel like everything could collapse beneath us!
Spirituality and Identity | Who Am I? Who is God?
The intersection of identity and spirituality is a complex interior space. It is the part of us where the understanding of our self converges with our spiritual beliefs. Understandings and beliefs influence and shape each other. What kinds of things come into play at this intersection? Read on!
Self-Exploration: Identity and spirituality are part of the process of self-exploration. As
we delve into our spiritual beliefs and practices, we encounter questions about our core values, purpose, and the nature of our existence. This exploration can lead to a deeper understanding of identity, including aspects such as personal values, cultural background, and the interconnectedness of all beings. We might skip rocks across the surface of the depths of who we are; we might dive in deep and be surprised by what we learn about the truest I Am.
Meaning and Purpose: Spirituality often seeks to address questions about the purpose and
meaning of life. It can provide a framework for understanding one’s identity in relation to the
larger cosmic or spiritual order. By exploring our spirituality, we will find a sense of
purpose that aligns with our core identity, values, and beliefs. Exploring this can be a bit sticky! When we’re wrestling with things like depression, anger, and other difficult emotions, we usually are wrestling with an absence of alignment. That is, the “me” that I’m presenting to the world may not be the “Me” that I am at my core.
It’s all tangled up together
Belief Systems: Our belief systems can be deeply intertwined with personal and cultural identities, shaping our worldview, values, and sense of belonging. Our religious identities may play a
significant role in shaping how we perceive ourselves and others.
Beliefs are our brain’s way of making sense of and navigating our complex world. They are mental representations of the ways our brains expect things in our environment to behave, and how things should be related to each other—the patterns our brain expects the world to conform to.Ralph Lewis, Psychology Today
Practices and Rituals: Practices and rituals can enrich our lived experience. These
often provide a means for us to connect with our beliefs about God (however we might understand “God”) and explore our sense of self. Reimagining practices like prayer, service, and gratitude can enliven, bring comfort, and refocus our sense of purpose.
Inner Transformation: Exploring the intertwine of our own identity and spirituality can lead to inner transformation and personal growth. Being curious about shifts in our perspectives, values, and beliefs can create an opening for understanding our Self and the Divine in spacious ways. It can be hard to face into this stuff alone. Sometimes (always!) the inner work involves being present to the most attractive bits of who we are, as well as the parts of us that we may prefer to tuck away into the shadows. Having a hand at our back for this part of our journey can be so helpful.
There is no finish line, but if there were one to be found…
Integration and Authenticity: At the intersection of identity and spirituality, we are curious about
aligning actions and choices with spiritual values and practices. How do we grow authenticity, and live as our true selves. This isn’t a test that we pass, or a finish line that we cross. Like St. Benedict,
Today I begin again.
Or, maybe more like Mary Shelley,
The beginning is always today.
Where do I go from here?
If you’re here, it is possible (even likely) that you have faced into some deep questions around your own identity already. You may be bumping up against the UNknowing of things as much as any kind of epiphany or fresh growth. This can all feel a little shadowy and unsure. It is an exercise in curiosity…even while it is profoundly disruptive!
Trust your own Inner Teacher (God? The Holy Spirit? Your True Self?). There is something that You already know and it’s quite possible that your life keeps giving you the same messages again and again. Only you really know what those are. They are meant for you. For your healing. For your thriving.
If you are curious about having the support of a spiritual director, reach out? Sometimes hearing our own deep Self, or hearing God, can be really difficult when our minds are busy and crowded with cares. We can help listen beneath the noise of it all to what your Life is already saying to you.