Lately I wonder how adequate my growth has the potential to be, if my vertical communion is limited and the majority of it is not initiated by me. Is spiritual growth separate from the other kinds we experience as humans, like the mental or emotional species? Does any class of growth happen separate from God? I do not imagine it is out of Satan’s desire to promote certain areas of growth if ultimately it draws me out of communion with God, so I suppose it is possible to grow as a person in “good” ways in my unimpressible state.
This is my fear! I barely communicate with God through intentional prayer lately, as I am still grieving for Pam and spiritual apathy is like an anvil on my soul. But I can’t deny all the ways I am experiencing growth and “good” change in my life since. Has God found ways to reach my squashed spirit, and subconsciously I to him? I find myself these days with emotional responses that are (relatively) mature/rational, with more sincere regard for my friends and family, an infinitely more genuine personality and optimistic, focused point of view. Up until recently I palpably lacked all these things, that was easily observed, especially by myself. I am excited to pursue things now for my own fulfillment (read: healthy hobbies) and I understand now that my goals are to simply find what I love and do it, and what is purer or sweeter than that? Such a revelation, such an embrace of the genuine person that I am is like taking in a cool glass of water after a season of drought.
A part of this sort of mental clarity comes from a realization I had a couple of weeks prior, while I read an email I wrote sometime my junior year of college. It was to a friend that I was losing and I was, to phrase it mildly, entirely obsessed with and determined to put things right between the two of us. On the surface, my words are sickly sweet, imploring, too simple to suggest intrigue. My true feelings behind them were depression over the state of our friendship, morose really, confusion as to why we were growing apart and inwardly wondering if it was because of me, because there was a part (or all of) me that she didn’t like. The latter idea terrified and tortured me. Looking over this email three years later, it’s astonishing to see how affected and blatantly fake I was! In the email I exuded happiness and cordiality and passive interest as if those were natural components of our relationship, but never scratching the surface as to why we grew apart or otherwise being sincere in any way. The tone the letter is so unlike me, it was unsettling to read. It made my stomach turn, thinking of how much my friend’s reception of me mattered and how I let that shape me… even more so, I remember that I was completely oblivious to my hypocrisy, only writing in order to gain her friendship and trust again.
It kick-started something in me, mentally and emotionally, and it changed in me the way I approach most things. Life. I think my disgust at seeing something so insincere and fake, and realizing that this permeated most of my character in college & since, has rerouted my perspective and personality into something more healthy and real.
I never realized it at the time, but returning to school as a newly converted Christian imparted a lot of very real pressure on me to glory in prudishness, to be the ideal Christ lover, to be spiritually mature enough to lead others to Him. I wanted approval from my family in Christ and everyone else, so I hid my sins, becoming all the more insincere and plain fake, rejecting my old self, genuine personality and all. I realize this now, and though it haunts me to think of the friendships I lost or ruined or the people I may have led astray because of my deeply rooted insecurities, I am still ignited to be completely the opposite. Perhaps God is influencing all of this, perhaps vertical communion is still happening, perhaps my soul found a way to connect to Him that my mind does not realize yet.
Perhaps the mere thought of prayer, or the simple desire to be known by God, to be a better and more genuine soul, is prayer itself.