Yes, it’s a familiar story. The young man was out with his friends. Looking across the room, he saw someone who caught his eye. Carefully watching, he became more interested. His friends encouraged him: “Go over and introduce yourself.” After some time, he found enough confidence to make his move.
They chatted a bit. Phone numbers were exchanged. The young man was hopeful and excited.
The next day, the phone call was made. A bit anxious about it all, he made the first date. He carefully planned what he’d wear and how he’d make the evening special. Over the following weeks, he carefully thought about what he said and did to continue to make a good impression. As the relationship developed, his friends teased him about how he was changing. While not wanting to admit it, as he thought about it, he liked the person he was becoming as he pursued this new romance.
One of the things that occurs for people who enter healthy intimate relationships is that they change and grow and become better people. It’s not that they stop being the people they were. Instead, in a healthy relationship, there are changes that draw out some of the best attributes a person has while the rough edges are made a bit smoother.
The same is true for people who become intentional about nurturing the spiritual dimension of life. Whether they describe it as following a spiritual path or maintaining a spiritual practice, change begins to occur. If it’s a healthy, integrated spiritual exploration, there is change for the betterment of the person.
The inner journey of spiritual growth reverberates through all dimensions of a person’s life: thoughts, emotions, behaviors, relationships, work, and every aspect of day to day life. As we grow more fully, changes that bring about greater degrees of personal integration occur. The changes occur precisely because one becomes more and more able to live in harmony with the deepest or true self.
There are times when people sense that an individual’s pursuit of spiritual practice is taking that person away from their relationships, responsibilities, and the heart of who the person is. It’s important to pay close attention to such feedback. This could be a sign that there is a lack of balance in the spiritual practice or that a person has gotten involved in something unhealthy. That’s no different from an unhealthy intimate relationship in which a person looses a sense of self or when their negative qualities become more pronounced.
The growth and integration that come from on-going attention to the spiritual dimension of one’s life don’t occur all of a sudden. Instead, the changes are generally just noticeable differences within an individual’s life. For example, a person may gradually become more centered, more patient, more able to live in the here and now without anxiety. While there are sometimes moments of clarity or insight, growth and integration are a process that take time, much like the growth of a plant from a seed.
Much like the young man who discovers a new romantic interest, the care, attention, and time spent in nurturing the spiritual dimension of life can lead to something enduring that will enhance one’s life for the long haul. Decades later, just as we may find that same man sitting on a bench with his beloved having shared many decades of life together sharing a quiet moment, knowing each other’s thoughts, so too will others look and be touched by the wonder of the transformation that occurs after following a spiritual path over the course of time.
Just like the young man, it all gets started by making the introduction.
© 2012, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.