The Spiritual Awakening of a Nonbeliever

I am not a religious person. For the vast majority of my life, actually, I’ve not even considered myself spiritual – I always referred to myself as an atheist-leaning agnostic. But a few months ago, I had somewhat of a spiritual awakening.

I’m 30 now, and I know a few of my friends feel like there’s something missing in their spiritual life. That’s why I want to share what’s changed for me.

As I mentioned earlier, C has had a rough go of it, and she has a lot of fears. These fears often mean that she is terrified to go to sleep. During the worst times, I have to lay with her so that she can fall asleep – and she often sleeps so lightly that if I even move my arm, she grabs onto me, thinking I am leaving her alone.

After a particularly rough bedtime at the beginning of this year, I laid in her bed at 7:45pm with my 25-pound child literally on top of me, clinging to my neck. I was close to tears: It had been nearly a year, and things simply were not getting any easier.

As I lay there, I started to wish I believed in God. People who have faith have lightness about them; how freeing it must be to trust that everything will work out for the best, because it’s not in your hands. Just listen to God, and He will guide you.

The problem is, I just can’t believe in God. It’s not in me. And as I lay there, I felt a profound grief for not having faith. I really wanted to give up control. I needed to believe that everything would be okay. Saying to myself “she won’t be sleeping on top of me when she’s 25,” really didn’t help.

As I continued to think about it, though, I realized that I actually did believe that everything would be okay in the end, because I had my intuition – and it’s always right. I often ignore(d) it, but it’s still right. In that moment, I realized that, as long as I listen to my intuition, things would be okay. Life might be absolute shit at times, but I truly do believe that things will eventually be okay.

And you know what? There is value in the hard times. Every struggle is a gift that makes me stronger and teaches me more about myself. Sometimes I learn right away, and sometimes I need the same lesson over and over until I “get” it. Religious people say that you can’t pray for patience and just have it when you wake up the next morning. Instead, God gives you a problem that teaches you patience. If you don’t learn it the first time, you get more and more problems. I believe that too, minus the God part.

Since this realization, I’ve been trying to listen to my intuition – but it’s a lesson I need over and over again. In fact, looking back on my life, I’ve been getting this lesson for years. Like Oprah says, it’s starts out as a whisper, and if you ignore it, the Universe starts screaming at you.

Difficulties come when you don't pay attention to life's whisper

Here’s my problem: I love control. Control has kept me afloat my entire life. It’s the only thing that’s helped me manage the hard times, and it’s helped me accomplish a lot. Unfortunately, Control is the enemy of Intuition. Control talks mad crap about Intuition. For example, take first impressions: Intuition doesn’t like that guy I met on the bus. Control, though, insists on being nice: What do you know about that guy, Intuition? You don’t know him at all, and you shouldn’t be rude. Don’t date him, but there’s no reason not to be friends with him. And when the guy turns out to be a total freak, Intuition wags her finger and says, “I told you so.” Yup, should have listened to Intuition. Another lesson.

I now practice meditation as a means of hearing the whisper of my Intuition. I suck at making sure I actually do it, but I’m getting better – anytime I feel off center, I sit down. Yoga is also helpful. (On a side note, I use an iPhone app called Samsara for meditation, and My Yoga Online for yoga, because my schedule doesn’t allow for classes. I highly recommend checking out Dina Amsterdam’s videos if you join My Yoga Online.)

Overall, this has brought a sense of peace to my life that I really needed, especially because the past year and a half has shaken me to my core. And the best part of it? Everything I need is inside me, which makes me feel stronger and more capable. And that’s a great lesson to teach C when she’s older.

I’ve talked to a few women who are going through a spiritual awakening right now – my divorce attorney said it’s the Saturn Return. I have no idea what it is, but I’d love to hear your experience if you’re dealing with anything similar!

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13 Responses to The Spiritual Awakening of a Nonbeliever

  1. Sarah says:

    Agree with everyone… love it! Along with everything else from here lately! Yoga=the bomb.  Somewhere I read a terrifc Yoga reflection—”My body is my temple, and asana are my prayers.”  Hope you get to sneak off for a live class sometime too! : )

  2. Amy I. says:

    Love love love this. Thank you for sharing <3 BTW I still can’t get your posts through my RSS reader. Luckily I stalk you in all the other places :)

  3. Coastinganon says:

    When my non-believing husband and I (a lifelong Presbyterian with post-modernist leanings) had our pre-marital counseling the pastor asked him if he had ever seen anything so beautiful or experienced anything so magnificent that caused him to stop and say, “Thank you!”

    Hubs answered positively with an example of coming up through the clouds on a chair lift at the top of mountain in Wyoming.  The pastor told him, “it is ok for that moment – for whoever you are addressing – to be God”.

    I don’t believe that God tests us.  I believe that God stands with us. Which is why I don’t pray for healing or for parking spaces :) or for Divine Intervention but rather for patience and guidance and enlightenment which I do believe is attainable.  I often pray for comfort for people – that they would feel the sense of God’s embracing care around them.  But I can’t define ‘God’.  Perhaps what I am referring to as enlightenment from God is the same as what you are referring to as your intuition.  I think if people were willing to embrace all ways of arriving at spirituality, or intuition, or God for that matter, we’d see how much we all really have in common.

  4. Julia says:

    Love this! I’ve always thought myself spiritual but not religious. You can follow what your spirit needs to feel “light” without following organized religion ;)

  5. Sara Olsher says:

    I so totally agree with this, Coastinganon. It doesn’t matter to me what anyone calls it anymore…it’s really nice to talk to people who are able to talk in more general terms, or can accept that other people see things differently. A big light bulb for me was when a co-worker said something about “the word of God” using the exact same example I’d been using for my Intuition that morning. To me, people who “feel God’s presence” or “hear his word” are hearing the same thing I am – I’m just calling it something else.

  6. Sara Olsher says:

    Aw thanks Sarah. I totally agree with that reflection! :)

  7. Sara Olsher says:

    SON OF A…hahahahaha. I’m gonna start praying for a solution to my RSS troubles. ;)

  8. Susan says:

    I love this post.

  9. Ellie says:

    “I think if people were willing to embrace all ways of arriving at spirituality, or intuition, or God for that matter, we’d see how much we all really have in common.”

    We all have very much in common, there’s no question of that. The human condition of wanting love, comfort, answers to life’s questions – that affects each of us.

    I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “arriving at”, but I’m guessing you mean something like trusting, or believing in? Trusting in one’s intuition – believing one has the right answer despite a lack of conscious reasoning – is a very different thing from trusting in a supernatural force. One says, “I alone have provided the answer, even if I don’t know how I did it.” The other says “a supernatural force has provided the answer.”

    Sara, you say below that you don’t care what anyone calls “it” anymore and that you’re just “calling it something else.”

    I don’t see why we must blur or even erase the distinction between intuition (which comes from the self) and comfort/answers provided by supernatural god figure (outside of self). I don’t see why it’s so bad to say, Well, no, those are completely different things. Drawing the distinction between them doesn’t invalidate either – it doesn’t say one is better than the other, and it certainly doesn’t say anything about the question of whether or not there IS a god.

    To equate them, I feel, is to actually do a disservice to both. I think it’s insulting to rationalists to hear, “Yeah, intuition, God, whatever you want to call it,” because, no, they really aren’t the same. And I think it’s insulting to believers to dismiss their faith as being “the same thing” as intuition, which, again, has absolutely nothing to do with a supernatural deity.

    I understand the urge to equate sources of comfort in the name of solidarity and compassion. I just don’t think it’s necessary.

    In any case, I think it’s fantastic that you’re feeling strong and capable and in touch with yourself. There is nothing like a divorce to make you reevaluate every single piece of your life, when it comes to reconstructing it.

  10. Amy I. says:

    Aaaaand it just came through, so yeah :/

  11. Hannah says:

    Sara, I seriously could have written this right now. Or something very, very close. I think we are having some very similar struggles. The universe is definitely screaming at me even though I usually am good about listening to my intuition. Your sharing this makes me feel less alone, which I need right now. And hugs to you.

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