I grew in the church during a time where there was still a stigma attached to being “spiritual”. My latest church experience confirmed that while the energy around that has shifted a bit, it is still a lingering negativity associated around it.
One of the most difficult things I’ve experienced was coming into my spirituality as a black person with a traditionally religious background.
Like many black families, mine are primarily Christian with Baptist ties. They hold the teachings of the church very closely to them and once upon a time so did I. I went through several stages of emotion towards Christianity as I learned more about the past of blacks and how faith and religion correlates.
Now, It’s not that I have completely cast Christianity aside. My understanding of the teachings have simply changed. Although dated or culturally specific in many aspects, I think the Bible holds much validity and relevance. For instance, to me, the Bible makes it clear that one can be both spiritual and religious. In fact, I give credit to my Christian upbringing for being the foundation for my spirituality today. However, it is no longer my end all be all.
Instead, I choose to study various faiths and philosophies and apply them to my life as I feel most called. Unfortunately, this has put me in a position to be called a number of things from doomed to questionable by those who practice their religion in a more traditional fashion.
I used to become defensive about this but, thankfully, my spirituality has lead me to understand that we all have our choices and are on different paths. Anyone’s conclusion of me is based on their own perception, one that is founded on their experience of not just me but their own life. I’ve learned to let people be where they are and to carry on in a way that makes me happy with myself by any means.
I realize those who are intense when it comes to their faith are in a different internal space than I am and I appreciate their passion. Still, in no way does it diminish what I feel to be best for me.
At the end of the day, I am black. I am spiritual. It is what it is.