Spirituality 101

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I think it's important to confess that when it comes to being spiritual, I basically suck. I know I'm a pastor and all, but connecting with God isn't something that always comes naturally to me.

Take one Sunday last fall, for example: I don't want to go to church (because I'm tired and it's usually boring), but I get out of bed anyway. Just as I'm about to leave, my dog jets out the front door. Five seconds later I'm sprinting down the street after her dropping f-bombs and screaming bloody murder to get her to stop. I imagine my new neighbors looking out the window in their pajamas, thinking, "Honey, there goes another one of those Christians." I finally catch the stupid mutt and race to church, all while sweating like a beast and cutting off several others cars on the way (this is why I can't put one of those fish on the back of my car). I grit my teeth through the first two worship songs because none of the words rhyme and the lead singer sounds like she likely swallowed glass as a child. Later, they ask us to pray. I bow my head and before I can get out, "Lord, thanks for..." I remember it's just about time to have my oil changed. What!? I try again, this time my "intimate time with God" is interrupted by some ungodly smell around me - I decide it would be unChristian of me to gag aloud as a hint to the offender. Oops, prayer time is over. As a matter of fact, I realize that the sermon is half-way over and I didn't even realize it started. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was wondering how I would watch the game later because we don't have cable at home. Service ends. Doh! Oh, well, there's always next week.

I relay this story, believe it or not, to encourage you. If you struggle like I do with connecting with God or making time for your spirit, I think the important thing to remember is this: just try. This spiritual stuff isn't easy, nor does it always come naturally. Like anything in life, it takes practice and perseverance. It also takes friends - those who can encourage us along the way. If your attention span is 20 seconds with God, try to pray for 21 seconds. If you feel uncomfortable talking about your faith with others (or asking questions), check out some online forum for spiritual seekers first. If you have trouble getting motivated to go to a meditation class or worship service, ask a friend if you can carpool together each week so you can encourage each other to make it a priority.

Just try. I honestly believe that our sincere, if very human, attempts to connect with the Spirit of God please God very much.

If you do something to connect with God or your spirit that has worked for you, could you please share it with the rest of us? I'm willing to try almost anything! : )

Jay Cooper is a United Methodist pastor who's currently planting a church near Phoenix, AZ. This post originally appeared on his blog Souls Gone Wild.

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