Your Spiritual Journey Starts Here
This is my first blog after a much-needed break. To say that I feel as if I’ve been swept up inside a hurricane these past few months is an understatement… and to say that I wanted to give up a few dozen times as I navigated challenge upon challenge is….well….you get the idea.
Periodically, I’ve checked in on social media, and it seems that quite a few people have had their lives tossed about as they’ve navigated their own challenges or have had to press pause as they found ways to cope with grief. Others said, “I need a break” and are now silent on platforms that continually demand we produce more, give more, and be present at all times.
The need to step away came from a place of overwhelm that I thought would be immediately assuaged when I signed out of my social media accounts. It helped, but as time went on, I still struggled with returning to my intense schedule of writing content and producing videos and podcasts. It felt as if “something else” was arising and requesting I pay attention. The problem was, I had no idea what this something else was or how long it would take to reveal itself to me.
This struggle — the pressure to produce colliding with an inner knowing to wait a bit longer — created a paradox that confounded and frustrated me. Still, I’ve been on this journey long enough to know that I was being invited into a sacred moment to prepare for what was coming.
When wisdom arrives
One evening after I shared with my husband why I had not returned to work as I had originally intended, he turned to me and said, “Karla, I think you just need to trust this journey. You’re going to know when the time is right. Just trust.”
So much easier said than done, and I hadn’t realized how little trust I was putting into this entire experience. What felt like a need to disengage had revealed a deeper level of sacredness, and I was still refusing to see it. For months, I had been working so intensely that I had forgotten to check in with my inner wisdom — that space where our soul meets the Holy. I hadn’t realized that my death grip on the steering wheel controlling my life had left little room for the tweaks and adjustments that can only happen when we are listening.
You would think I would know this, right? You would think that a minister who helps people on their spiritual journey would practice what she is preaching.
You would think, wouldn’t you?
It was then and there, sitting on our front porch with my husband’s words swirling in the air, that I realized my overwhelm was less about what was happening to me and more about what I was doing to myself.
I no longer believed in my ministry, my team, my calling and — most importantly — myself. There was no coincidence that this implosion was happening at a critical time when things inside the ministry were actually exciting and moving quickly to put in place everything needed to launch workshops and our teaching series.
In other words, nothing I was believing was actually true, so why had I allowed the excitement for what was to come to deteriorate because of personal challenges?
The problem was never going to be solved using the same tools I had used to create this mess.
It was time for intense spiritual reflection.
Spiritual Journey: more than just prayers and meditation
“Whenever you become anxious or stressed, your outer purpose has taken over, and you lost sight of your inner purpose. You have forgotten that your state of consciousness is primary, all else is secondary.” Eckhart Tolle
What I had forgotten in this intense season of personal challenges and immense opportunity was that these are the times when our spirituality picks us up and holds us together. Without a strong spiritual practice and path, we can fall into old habits, and as Eckhart said, our outer purpose — our physical self — takes the wheel and pushes out the sacred resources that helped guide you to the very place you now find yourself.
It isn’t that I lacked the tools to navigate this chapter of my life. I had simply turned away from them. Old elements of myself, drenched in Christian indoctrination and patriarchy that at one time forced me to believe that I was nothing without the guidance of church leaders — more specifically, male church leaders— crept into my mind. My outer purpose, which had been forced upon me through this patriarchal indoctrination, swept in to regain its grip on my confidence, my mind and my belief in myself.
It overtook me in massive waves of emotion and exhaustion, and I was left believing all that I had worked for would not fully manifest because it simply wasn’t meant to be. Instead of facing what was spiraling around me, I simply chalked up the entire experience to overwhelm — and pressed pause.
There is, of course, sacred wisdom in the pause. There are many reasons we need it. But unless we return a better, more focused, intentional and grounded version of ourselves, then the pause was controlled by the outer purpose instead of being an integral part of our spirituality.
Jesus take the wheel — or not.
If you grew up in the evangelical church, then you no doubt recognize the phrase, “Jesus take the wheel.” It’s from a song by Carrie Underwood, which I proudly had as my ringtone for years. When I say I walked the walk, honey, I walked it and displayed my evangelical roots with deep pride!
Needless to say, that phrase is long gone from my mantras, but the sentiment still holds meaning, even for those of us on a spiritual-but-not-religious path. The pause is about releasing the wheel to breathe, let go, listen and restore. Some may call what arrives the presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I now call it simply the Holy, and I believe that is what this time has meant to me.
Jesus arrived in the form of a patient husband, willing to listen to my thoughts as I scrambled to find the words to describe what was happening in the moment of my pause. Jesus arrived in the followers who reached out to check on me and let me know how much this ministry meant to them. And Jesus arrived when I finally returned to my prayer bench, took a deep breath and simply let go.
Where do we go from here? Thank God I do not know.
If you’ve read this far hoping to find what wisdom arrived for me while I reset and restored, I’m sorry to disappoint you. The truth is, it is still arriving. There has been clarity around my ministry that will no doubt lead to shifts in our business model. I’ve allowed light into some spaces that needed healing, and come face to face with past trauma that snuck up to convince me that I was the problem, I was the mistake, and not worthy of all the good coming my way.
For today, that is enough.
It isn’t as if I have been idle. I’ve gardened and rediscovered how much touching the earth meant to me. I’ve caught up on some reading that has inspired me, and I’ve held space for my mother-in-law as she walked closer to her last days here on earth.
More wisdom and healing is on its way, of this I’m sure… but not because I’m forcing it. I’ve loosened my grip, and I’m recognizing the changes I need to make in my life so when it becomes unbalanced again — and it will — the outer purpose doesn’t trip me up and send me headfirst into a sea of doubt.
My changes begin here on my prayer bench, where I release the wheel to Divine Love and Infinite Wisdom.
This is where the Holy is found.
I’m honored to be back.