Faith, Family and God: Inner Wellbeing With or Without the Almighty

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bible_smBy: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—

Spring is here! Now is a good time to celebrate the renewal of life for ourselves and families while having renewed hope for the world. It’s also a good time to do an annual spiritual check-in regarding one’s inner wellbeing, and you don’t need a belief in a higher authority to do it.

Too often there is an emphasis on mind and body health, but the soul, a necessary third part in overall wellbeing, is overlooked. Whether a person is a believer, questioner, or without faith in a divine power, everyone is a mystical being. Atheists and humanists are very spiritual beings, as evidenced when time stands still when two people fall in love, a couple adopts a child, or an individual experiences something transcendental in autumn’s majesty in the Northeast.      

Even a person without belief can pray. To whom? The cosmos. Have a conversation out loud in your car. Verbalize fears, hopes and needs. It can be grounding and cathartic, a soulful act reflecting a cosmological need to be connected with something bigger than self. [pullquote]Many in the LGBTQ community remain leery of getting involved with anything that even remotely sounds religious, yet the soul needs sustenance.[/pullquote]

There is something sacred in every human being. Many in the LGBTQ community remain leery of getting involved with anything that even remotely sounds religious, yet the soul needs sustenance. Vocal, reactionary religious activists with an anti-civil and human rights agenda still cause many LGBTQ families and individuals angst about God, faith and religion. That said, if you and Rush Limbaugh were both Red Sox fans, would your loyalty shift to the Mets? Of course not!

Embrace spirituality on your terms, not on someone else’s. Ultimately, each person answers to a higher being (whether the cosmos or God), their conscience, and the family they’ve made. Hence, don’t let someone taint what can be a personal and extraordinary spiritual experience.

Increasingly, same-gender couples are asking whether to have marriage ceremonies officiated by clergy, raise kids in a faith tradition, or join religious communities using regular, structured services. Last October, I solemnized the union of two men. It was holy. Time stood still, and it was sacred. It was important to them to sanctify their union publicly using a religious-themed ceremony they had written. In December, I had the privilege of spending quality time with two guys and their adopted children. The little girl offered grace before each meal. These partnered men were raising their kids in the Christian tradition, including Bible school at a progressive church. It was beautiful.   

LGBTQ partners are now searching for ways to connect with the spiritual. Should you join a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue? How does an LGBTQ person or family select one? Why should children be raised in a faith, and what faith? [pullquote]If you’re an atheist, agnostic, or humanist, how do you nurture spiritual wellness on a daily basis without faith and religion?[/pullquote]

Isn’t faith and spirituality contrary to logic, science and common sense? If you’re an atheist, agnostic, or humanist, how do you nurture spiritual wellness on a daily basis without faith and religion? Meditation? Stillness? Secular ritual? How does one reconcile religious homophobia with spiritual hunger?   

These and other questions speak to deeper longings that help ground individuals, their partners and children in the holiness of their creation in an evolving cosmos. It can give life a fuller, deeper meaning. Ritual, ceremony, ongoing formal worship, and celebrating holidays whether secular or religious offer some approaches to exploring inner wellbeing. It’s important to remember spiritual wellness is like exercise, nurturing quality friendships, or committing to a healthy diet. Inner wellbeing requires constant care and attention.

*Paul P. Jesep is an attorney, corporate chaplain, seminary-trained priest, and founder of Corporate Chaplaincy. He will offer a morning workshop on LGBTQ spirituality in Albany, NY at Capital Counseling on June 16. Call Jennifer at (518) 464-3813, ext. 117, for more information.

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