by Linda LaBrie CLS
Several months ago I was reading a book on one my favorite topics, religion and spiritual growth, and the author mentioned her SPIRITUAL PLAN. I realized that I had no SPIRITUAL PLAN, and before that moment, had no idea that they even existed, let alone that I was supposed to have one! I felt like a real spiritual slacker, waiting for someone to uncover my secret.
Panic stricken, I called my SPIRITUAL MENTOR and best friend, Reverend Cecelia Smith, whom some of you have met here before. She calmly told me that it was not a requirement, that many people do not have one, ( what a relief!), and that I probably would not be in trouble. I felt better knowing that I would not be like the kid without the homework when it is my time to meet God. I wouldn’t have to start making up excuses. I can be very creative in that department. One thing I did learn from the nun’s is how to lie. Ironic, isn’t it?
I went along for a few months, still without a SPIRITUAL PLAN, but it lingered in the back of my mind, the seed had been planted. I didn’t have to fufill any spiritual requirements or credits, but I decided that I wanted one.
A SPIRITUAL PLAN is your set of goals and objectives on how you plan to achieve your personal spiritual growth, awareness, enlightenment, and develop a deeper relationship with God and Spirit.
The question for many people would be “why do we need a SPIRITUAL PLAN?”, can we just make it up as we go along? Personally, I am a planner. I feel that any type of progress without a plan or strategy is almost impossible. For example, if you had the lead part in a musical production, and you didn’t rehearse, you would flop. Of course you would be truly surprised that you had not made any progress from the time that you got the part to the time that you had to demonstrate your efforts. This is how many of us operate in our SPIRITUAL LIVES, we just coast along with no direction or clear understanding of what we hope to achieve.
Think of a SPIRITUAL PLAN as your SPIRITUAL HEALTH. As we nurture our bodies, we must also care for our souls. Set aside time each day for prayer and meditation, share your faith with others, mentor others spiritually, be charitable and generous, serve your SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY and be of service to others.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH and development is an ongoing process, and we need to be consistently moving towards SPIRITUAL MATURITY, to move beyond a basic, intro-level faith and way of conducting ourselves in our lives and our relationships with others. This is not a quick process, but it is rewarding.
Reverend Cecelia guided me away from some behaviors not compatible with my desire to grow SPIRITUALLY. It was extremely difficult at first, but it became easier with time. There were a few incidents of backsliding, but I grew from having a plan in place, having goals, and having to be held accountable for my words and actions. I am extremely grateful for her kind, patient lessons with me. She tells me that she can see the growth in me, and I see it in myself. Now, I see the same bad behavior in others that I was guilty of, and it disturbs me to think ; “That could be me.” I am not the person that I used to be. Part of my SPIRITUAL PLAN is asking for help and guidance when needed, and praying to God and Spirit to help guide me on my journey to be a better person.
There are many different types of SPIRITUAL PLANS. One example is SPIRITUAL FASTING. The goal is for a certain number of days you give up certain behaviors that are detrimental to your SPIRITUAL GROWTH, for example gossiping, complaining, being ungrateful, etc. Another example is themed time frames, for example each month is a different faith based theme; Gratitude, moral responsibility, prayer and meditation, service to others, etc.
A good starting point is to ask yourself why SPIRITUAL GROWTH is important to you. Take an honest inventory and ask yourself: “where are the areas where I need the most growth?”. Target specific faith issues, are you seeking more of a SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE in your life such as forgiveness, moral responsibility, inner peace, etc. This was my starting point.
My plan began with acknowledging and expressing gratitude. Some of the people in my life are chronic complainers. Nothing is ever right, everyone (not them ) is a you-know-what, nothing is ever their fault, ever. Everything and everyone exists for the sole purpose of making their existence an exercise in constant suffering. Their glass is bone dry. I am grateful to them for opening my eyes to how fortunate I am. When I pray,the first part of my prayers are expressing gratitude. I begin by thanking God and Spirit for another day, for being safe,goog health, having food and clean water, medical care,my wonderful husband, family, friends, and so much more. I am extremely grateful for my many blessings, and I don’t take it for granted. My wish is that everyone could be as fortunate as I am. And I feel when you grow SPIRITUALLY, you make a difference in the world. A strong SPIRITUAL CONNECTION with God and Spirit is important in order to develop the gifts that we all possess. And we are all children of God.