I encourage you to steep yourself in your scriptures, whatever they are for your religion. You are smart and intuitive. You are capable of making good spiritual decisions when you give yourself the knowledge.
First thing every morning after I get a cup of coffee (and don’t even try to tell me coffee isn’t a spiritual practice) I open up the Bible my grandmother gave me for three minutes, five max. It’s not a lot of time or energy, but it is consistent.
Here’s what I get out of that three minutes a day:
1. Spiritual food.
Your spirit needs food just like your body, or your mind. My grandmother reads her Bible, identical to the one she gave me, for hours a day. I’m not there yet, so I just take a snippet and chew on it.
2. Improved bullshit radar.
The Bible, which is the scripture of my religion, is often used as a weapon instead of a tool of spiritual understanding. Here are a few examples of some of the bullshit knowing my scripture has helped me avoid (Warning – sarcasm ahead):
“The Bible clearly says…” The Bible clearly says jack shit aside from love God, love people, and that Jesus is the son of God. The rest of it is actually pretty nuanced and difficult to understand. And yet you, a thirty-year-old white man from suburbia, claim to know exactly what this two thousand year old passage means in the context and language in which it was written? I’ll call my Bible professors from college and tell them their decades of study are over because you’ve got this.
“Women shouldn’t have teaching or leadership roles…” Really? Then why did God choose women to be the first to preach the gospel of the risen Christ to the apostles? Why did Jesus let Mary sit at his feet and learn as a student instead of making her do housework with the other women? Why were there female deacons and leaders in the first century church that you claim to model yourself after? And (also relevant to the “marriage should be between a man and a woman” argument) why did Paul straight up say there was no gender in the Kingdom?
It’s common for people to take bits of scripture that support their statements (and also, surprise surprise, support them staying in power over another group of people). Unless you are familiar with the rest of the text, it’s easy to buy into whatever bullshit they’re selling.
3. Unique understanding of my religion.
Listening to good teaching about your religion is awesome and worthwhile, but it’s not a substitute for religious exploration on your own. You have a unique perspective and understanding of Spirit simply because of the way you’re made – your learning style, your experiences, your way of making sense of the world. Exploring that unique perspective is a gift to the rest of us because we get to encounter Spirit in a new way through you.
Most of the time lately I’ve been camped in the gospels, but when the world just sucks, I head to the Psalms. There, I can read about how the world sucked for other people and not feel so alone.
Additionally, I use the Psalms in rituals, such as new or full moon ceremonies. This makes me feel grounded, centered, and connected to Spirit.
5. Invitation to relationship with Spirit.
You can read the Bible hundreds of times and never get it – and so many people have done just that. (Those are the ones that use it as a weapon.) Reading religious texts is no guarantee of spiritual understanding, because scripture alone cannot open your heart or help you know Spirit in an intimate way.
Instead, sitting down with the text daily is just an invitation for Spirit to speak. It’s a sign that you’re ready to listen, that you want to spend time with her and get to know her even if you don’t get anything out of it.
She is the only one who can open your heart and help you understand. And I find she usually doesn’t do this based on a checklist (“Well, you read three chapters today so I’ll give you a nugget of spiritual understanding.”) but based on relationship.
Think of it like starting a dating relationship. Say you’ve started seeing someone three months ago, but you’ve only been on two dates since then. You’re not going to share intimate details of your life because the foundation for that kind of relationship just hasn’t been built yet. There hasn’t been time.
Similarly, say you’ve been on three dates a week during that time, and based on the number of times you’ve been together your date demands intimate details about your life. That’s not going to go over well, is it?
You cannot demand spiritual understanding. You can only invite it, and one way to do that is by sitting down regularly with your spiritual texts.
And now, I’m curious – what are your spiritual texts? What writing feeds you? Is there a specific section or passage that you feel connected to? Let me know in the comments!