“It’s important to grant ourselves permission to wander as part of our spiritual journey. So often mischaracterized as lostness, there’s a kind of immersion in the not knowing that is actually quite focused and necessary if we are going to excavate and identify our sacred purpose. So much information can come up when we’re looking in no particular direction. A sense of wander…” ~Jeff Brown
I was thinking yesterday of my spiritual and religious journey over the course of my lifetime and realized how aimless the journey would appear to anyone else. My wandering path through a wide range of Christendom supplemented by forays into various other religious and spiritual traditions looks more like a drunken stagger than a thought-out journey despite the fact that there are themes that are apparent even in the chaos of general trajectories that the path has followed.
My first impulse, as usual, was to find the negative view of myself and proceed to beating myself up. I am unfocused and uncommitted. I can’t stick with anything. I am just a dilettante always seeking what makes me feel good but with no discipline to stick it out through the hard places. I could easily imagine the scorn and dismissal with which anyone I was attempting to explain this journey would surely see me.
Fortunately, I am learning to recognize the unusefulness of this behavior more quickly than I once did and managed to stop myself rather quickly to question my thoughts. I decided that while it is true that there are people who would describe my behavior in the negative terms I mentioned above, it’s not the only way to describe it. It could equally as well be argued that I’ve shown great courage and commitment to the truth by refusing to stay in the safe confines of any tradition that did not fit.
It could be argued that I have not stuck with many of these explorations long enough to develop the deep understanding that would come with years of commitment to a given tradition. It could equally as well be argued that I have remained ready and willing to stretch myself, my understanding, and my worldview by being willing to search for truth wherever I might find it.
It could be argued that I am quick to take the easy road of moving on when I find that something doesn’t fit. It could equally as well be argued that I have taken the hard road of taking the responsibility to find my own truth rather than accepting what any tradition, including the one that infused my childhood, tells me to be true.
So which one is true? More importantly, which one do I believe? Deep down in my gut, what do I believe?
As I sat with this question, what I discovered surprised me. Deep down beneath all the negative voices, I believe that I have been courageous, committed to the truth, willing to stretch, and willing to take responsibility for finding my own way even the face of disapproval and uncertainty. The negative stuff is just echoes of voices I have heard too often in my life; it’s criticism that I carry around as protective armor—if I criticize myself first, I can preempt the criticism of others before it can hurt me.
And so, I am hereby granting myself permission to wander (without criticism!) as long and as far as I need to in order to find my own way. I realize this is not the easiest road or the culturally approved road. I’m ok with that. It’s the path that feels authentic to me, and since this is my spiritual journey at stake, what feels authentic to me is really all that matters.
I’m not only owning my sense of wander, I’m celebrating it!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.