To understand what makes the spiritual life so essential to our happiness we need to consider first what’s meant by the idea of a “spiritual life”. We can understand it better by contrasting it with two other parts of our life which we talk about all the time—our personal and professional life.
For example, when I make my weekly call to my mom I always ask about her health because she’s older now and has had some recent problems with her heart. So I’m always wanting to know how she feels physically. Conversations with my good friend, on the other hand, who lives a couple of states away in Texas tend to be about married life and our families, good books we’ve read, and sublime ideas.
We’re thinkers and love exploring the world of ideas together in conversation. She also runs a business and recently obtained her license as a clinical counselor, which gave us more to talk about since I’ve enjoyed a long career in the same field. In both of the examples above I’ve given you a brief look at the concerns, interests, and activities that are typically the focus of personal or professional life. You could replace my weekly call and conversations with your own and we’d have a glimpse of your personal and/or professional life.
Now, here’s the contrast…
Our personal and professional life are chiefly concerned about and focused on our day-to-day needs, challenges and demands, aspirations and pleasures, right? In this dimension of life the focus is about maintaining our material wellbeing and comfort. Whereas, the spiritual life focuses on life in the Spirit—that is, living in and with God. The spiritual life is simply life in God.
I realize this opens up a whole host of other important, related issues and questions. And, that’s the reason for this blog and my podcast—to talk about, explain, and explore these things together with you. But in this post, I want us to just focus on the one idea that living in and with God—my simple definition of the spiritual life—is essential to your happiness and mine.
And, here’s why…
God is a Spirit, and so are you. Created in God’s own incredible image, you are a spiritual being—just as God is himself an uncreated spiritual Being. However, unlike God, you have a physical or material body. Therefore, you are an embodied spirit. I don’t know how that strikes you to think about that….but one thing about it is certain—it makes you a very unique being. In all of creation there is not a creature like you! You have the ability to live in two dimensions at once! Only the human soul dwells in the amazing natural world of plants, animals, and matter in all its glorious forms—and in the spiritual world where God, the angels, saints, and blessed souls of men and women now dwell in loving union through Christ.
This is completely mind-blowing to me! You and I are such beautiful and amazing beings! Now, just as the body needs food and shelter to survive in this life—so does your spirit. Unlike your body, though, your spirit or soul needs truth and love to survive in this life. God is the source of the truth and love that nourishes the human soul. Fr. John Bartunek explains it aptly in his book, The Better Part: He says, “Just as the body needs food and water, the soul feeds on truth and love.
This reality is categorically ignored by today’s secularized, materialistic culture, which denies the existence of moral and spiritual truth and reduces love to mere feelings…Your soul, your intellect, and your will yearn for the true and the good as much as your body yearns for solid food and fresh drink.” To really get this and appreciate it we need to re-discover a right understanding of ourselves. By this I mean we need to realize our true dignity and nature as human beings. We are beautiful embodied spiritual beings made by God for God.
Once we get this, the fact that the spiritual life (life in and with God who is supreme Truth, Love, and Goodness) is essential to our happiness becomes clear. And that clarity will be the source of a joy unspeakable and glorious because finally our intellect and will —which make up our spiritual nature—can respond to the truth, love, and goodness it needs and has found in relationship with God.
What do you think about being made by God for God?
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