Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiritual Loneliness

I spoke with a man once who described to me how him and his wife had been hurt by a Christian organization. Both had been through the ringer emotionally. Curiously, he responded by moving closer to God but his wife moved away from Him. This created a terrible feeling which he coined as "spiritual loneliness." His spiritual intimacy with his wife had been lost and he was grieving it immensely. I often think back to this conversation and reflect on this seldom spoken about marriage topic.

Spiritual loneliness is almost a sure thing when it comes to marriage. At some point you will experience it and for some couples it is mostly the norm. For couples where one person is a non-believer then it is even more felt. Sometimes spiritual loneliness is a result of powerful expectations about one's spouse and how that it disconnected from reality. Different people have different sacred pathways (or ways of connecting with God) and this can be challenging to understand and accept.

Everyone goes through periods of dry spells, doubt, and putting God on the shelf. I'm sorry but it's true. If you haven't experienced it yet you will. Life's challenges, changes, and adjustments often are shown in the fragility of our faith. And this fragility affects the marriage in powerful ways which can certainly includes spiritual loneliness.

For better or for worse includes spiritual loneliness. How to cope with it? Some try to shame their spouse, guilt them, or manipulate them. Others depress or become anxious. And some manage to persevere. Any thoughts on this topic? I want to do a speak on it someday and I'd appreciate hearing from anyone on their experiences or advice.

1 comment:

Elayne said...

Hmmm...that got me thinking Mark! Maybe I should take more time with my opinion but for now this is what I think: Our life journey's are our own and grow at a pace that I think we dictate to a large extent. My faith grows according to my spiritual hunger. I've gone through periods where I feel satisfied and bask in the joy of maintaining and just enjoying my relationship with God. Then something happens that seems to rob me of all my time and before I know it I have not been maintaining any more. Much of that time is just spent in pouring out my hurt etc. to God and not really listening to what He has to say. Finally I get to that hunger stage where I just have to have that two way communication again and that gets me back to God's Word and new growth. In our life together we certainly have often grown at the same rate and yet there have been times we have grown at different rates. I can't say that I have ever felt spiritual loneliness but I have been tremendously encouraged whenever my husband was at a place I wanted to be and I hope that he would feel the same way (I might just have to ask him about this!). It encouraged me to dig deeper and pray more. More often than not when one of us shares what we've just learned or just been through the other is pretty well at the same place in their life. This is what makes the Christian married life so exciting! I can't even imagine not being able to share that with my spouse.