Spiritual Growth Isn’t Sexy

I like new things. Curiosity is pretty hard-wired into my being, and I like it; it drives me to new subjects, to new perspectives, to a broader understanding of God’s world.

But there’s a point at which “new” starts working against you, particularly in regards to growing.

Over my years of following God, I have dabbled in charismatic faith, liturgical faith, post-modern worship, and more recently centering prayer and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Some of these movements—the more ancient ones in particular—are particularly attractive to me because they seem so alien. They use a language that I’m unused to, and that wakes me up and draws me in. The way monks and Orthodox folks refer to the spiritual world is compelling to me, and I respond by buying books and beginning to experiment.

Historically, however, I get bored; after a time the newness wears off. The words don’t seem as fresh anymore.

This is when curiosity becomes a problem.

I’m learning lately to work through the “boredom”, to stop looking for new words and language and concepts, and to merely accept the forms that God has given me (and millions of others) to find Him.

It’s really not that exciting, in the end. Words can’t stay new forever. Eventually you have to get to the thing-behind-the-words. That’s the thing that really matters.

Don’t get me wrong: Manning, Merton, Keating, John of the Cross can certainly turn a phrase. I will always appreciate that part of their gifting.

But the hard lesson I’m learning is that even when the phrases have been emptied of their “magic”, even when they are less poetic and more pragmatic, I still have to grow.

Ultimately, it’s not the poetry that makes me grow. It’s the Spirit behind the poetry that is the real thing.

What about you? Anyone else out there struggle with always pursuing the new? What have you sought out?

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