A way to fix spiritual bankruptcy
When something is missing inside of you, there is nothing in the world that you want more than to fill that sense of emptiness.
That is how I describe what I felt like for a majority of my young life.
I lived in a world of “if only.”
If only I were popular, I wouldn’t feel lonely.
If only I were smart enough, people would see that I had value.
If only I was prettier or thinner, I would be seen as worthy of your love and attention.
These “if onlys” led to a desperate search to fill the void where enoughness, fulfillment, self worth, and self love should have been.
One “if only” led to another.
I turned to men, food, alcohol, drugs, and performance as ways to fill that empty space within me, and it wasn’t until I had broken myself completely and entered recovery through a rehab that I finally learned that what I was experiencing was a spiritual void.
Spirituality is a sense of connectedness to something bigger than ourselves that is loving and caring, and is not a person, place or thing. In the rooms of 12-step meetings, I learned about a Higher Power that would be loving and caring and have my best interests at heart.
I hadn’t had my own best interests at heart for 40 years and wondered how this could change.
Where I had no self esteem, I wanted to learn how to get it.
Where self love was a foreign concept, I wanted to bridge the space from my head to my heart and learn my own language of love.
There have been many attempts at building what is my own personal spirituality, some of them more uplifting than others.
One way that I have found great joy and fulfillment is by doing esteemable things. I’ve left random cards with personal and uplifting messages for strangers to find, trusting that my Higher Power would find the exact person needing it.
I walk through Portland, offering hugs to strangers and delighting in the shocked looks on their faces as they were given the thing that they might need most that day.
I’ve listened to people without judgement or advice, holding space for their pain, sharing my own. I’ve celebrated all of the little successes and even celebrated failures, trusting that just trying was the real win.
I’ve built my spirituality through many avenues including Kirtan, a devotional chanting experience where the leader will sing the chant and the audience will sing the chant back to the leader.
I’ve felt my heart open and love flood in when I have spent time in prayer for others and their needs. I’ve joined communities that mirror my core values and connected with others in solidarity to make lives better.
The emptiness inside started filling and it was all from things I did with a pure heart and clear mind—spiritual deposits, so to speak.
The most important thing that I must be aware of at all times is that it is MY spiritual bank, which means that I am responsible for all of the deposits and withdrawals.
Protecting myself from spiritual thieves is part of that responsibility, and in learning how to do that I have learned that “No” is a complete sentence. I have learned that I do not have to say “yes” to every single request in my life, and that one-way friendships are depleting when you are the only one giving.
Checking in with myself, I can decide what will reflect back to my inner value. I know that depleting myself for others is no longer a mark of my self worth.
Most of the time, I feel full and complete but, being human, I have days where it still feels that something is missing and the simple solution that I can rely on, again and again, is to turn from any “if only” and turn toward making a deposit into my
Staying connected to my own choice of spiritual practice keeps me on track and alerts me to any feelings of emptiness I might be feeling.
Today, I know my value, I know my worth and my heart is full.