John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
This is a verse that I have loved for a long time. To me, it gives hope and sets things straight. Right in this one verse we have the set-up of how things are, how they always been, and how they have always been.
I adopted this verse for Winter Grace Senior Ministries, Inc. I see it as a great summary of good vs evil, God vs the evil one, satan, the world, however you want to name the other. God gives hope, abundance, fullness. The other takes by stealing, killing, and destroying.
You could ask 10 people for their definition of spirituality. Most likely you would receive 10 different definitions. There may be common themes, but everyone looks at spirituality in a different way.
Definition of Spirituality
These are all definitions of spirituality that you can easily find through the wonders of the internet:
“The aspect of humanity that refers to the way that individuals see and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.” Christina Puchalksi, 2009.
“The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things- essence, being, self.” – Google
Finally, from a young musician: “Modern Spirituality is centered on the ‘deepest values and meanings by which people live.’ It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.”
“The quality of state of being concerned with religion or religious matters.” -Webster
Why is increasing your spirituality important? We have already explored 10 Ways to Grow Our Spirituality. You may be wondering why we want to do that, especially as we age. As it turns out there are several physiological benefits to being more Spiritual.
Before we explore the benefits, let’s check out some definitions. As you will see from the these definitions, spirituality can seem all-encompassing. The question may become “What doesn’t fit into this category?”
Do you belong to a church that has a time for prayer? The pastor may ask for you to share your joys and concerns. Concerns of Aging.. Do you have any? Sure. If you were to say that you do not I would perhaps be a bit suspicious. Or I would know you were fairly young. Of course, the younger we are the less concerns we have with growing old. I realize that is a sweeping generalization and certainly does not apply to all young people. Our personal situation certainly influences what we are concerned. with.
Have you considered the Joys of Aging?
There are several surveys and articles which list possible concerns that people face as they age. According to Forbes Magazine there are 8 main challenges:
Spirituality, Joy, and Sewing? Really? I have a love/hate relationship with sewing. Really, it is more of a love/love/love/love/hate, the 80/20 rule. Back in high school my best friend tried to teach me to sew. She sewed a lot of her clothes back then and figured I needed to learn. Well, that was a total fail. I made more mistakes than right moves. We never finished and I figured my sewing days were over.
A few years later I tried again. I bought my first sewing machine in 1987. Many mistakes later, I actually started to get the hang of it. My grandmother was a master seamstress, from a family of tailors. I can’t imagine ever aspiring to that level, but I do love to sew. Really, I love to piece quilts. That began in 1989. The wife of a Navy friend of my husband’s said she was going to make her husband a quilt. I was intrigued. The rest they say is history. It will be 30 years this fall since I started quilting, but that 80-20, love-hate relationship continues.
Spirituality is a topic many people might have difficulty defining. It is only a church thing? Is it greater concern with the soul than material possessions? (Oxford Dictionary) Is it the deepest values by which people live? (Wikipedia) Is it pondering ideas that take us beyond ourselves or is it the meaning of life? Is it all of these things and more? How do you achieve spiritual growth?
Today, many people talk about being spiritual rather than religious. Being religious to some has the meaning of following rules whereas spiritually is more self-directed pondering of the universe. What is the point of all of it?
Being more aware of what it is important in your life or what the purpose of your life is can be considered being spiritual. In the world of a Christian, spirituality most often means how one lives in response to Jesus and what his life, death, and resurrection mean to a believer.
Even longtime Christians can sometimes feel that their relationship with Christ has run dry or seems distant. We may at times feel that God is distant from us because of the trials of life we are experiencing. Loss, grief, and hurt can make us feel depleted spiritually. We feel alone. It is at these times we feel an increased need to grow spiritually. Therefore, we want to reignite the connection that brought us to a belief in Jesus.
But what do we do? How we recapture that sense of the presence of Jesus in our lives?
Growing spiritually is something many of us aspire to. But what does that mean? How do we do it? And what are the benefits? As we age, we can continue to grow and change. We can change in many ways: the hobbies we enjoy, the food we eat, the areas that interest us, our physical health, our relationships, and many others. One important way we can grow is spiritually.
Regardless of age and abilities, we have the opportunity to grow spiritually as well. We can grow closer to Christ until we take our last breath. This is a deeply held belief of mine. We can grow closer to Christ everyday, even if our abilities are limited. Even if we are unable to utter our prayers. God knows what our heart is yearning for.
One thing we yearn for is joy. Feeding our joy, in-line with our love of God, is a balm to our soul even in difficult times. Feeding your joy by using your gifts and talents for others can allow you to reach a different aspect of your relationship with God.
The article linked here, gives 5 strategies for deepening our spiritual life. No great surprise, they revolve around reaching out beyond yourself. There are more ways to deepen your spirituality personally and privately. We shall explore them soon. For now, look to your community. Who is in your community? We influence each other. Who is influencing you? Who are you influencing?
Spirituality and Aging go hand in hand. “Positive spirituality is defined by developing an internalized relationship with the sacred and transcendent world that is not bound by race, ethnicity, economics or class, and promotes the wellness and welfare of the self and others.”
Study after study confirms what many may already know: spirituality can have a tremendous positive effect on health, wellness, and longevity. Also, as people age there is often a turn to a deeper sense of spirituality. Let’s take this as strong encouragement that spirituality is good for us.