Spiritual Awakening, Growth, and Enlightenment/How to fix this


Hi  I recently found out I had breast cancer. I was operated on and will undergo treatment in 2 weeks. Very early stage and curable. I have been for a while changing spiritually due to my mother's sickness and passing from cancer too.

I feel I am a different person. I have many questions generally and I am relaxed when others would be very distraught. My husband on the other hand is not spiritual, says he believes in God but he doesn't understand certain things I go through. He  cares for material things that I don't even give a thought about. WE are having problems relating because of this, every day is a struggle at some point and now even more since I have  questions about my sickness and when I voice them to the doctors he says I am being negative. In other words, it is very difficult to have a conversation with someone who is in the here now and says believes but at the same time I feel he  doubts.

By no means I have blind faith. I wish I could develop this right now. I do have faith ,but sometimes being human I fall and cry when I feel pain. I just want him to understand I am changing and I dont know how to go about this. At this point I need someone listening to me and spiritually be there. I hope I made myself understood. I have trouble sometimes expressing what I want to say.  

Thank you

Dear Ale,

Thanks so much for your question. I hope your health outlook remains as positive as you describe it being now.

I do believe that life crises (health and other types) can strengthen us, and sometimes even move us forward spiritually. That may manifest in greater acceptance and a calmer attitude in the face of life's trials, but it can also manifest in decreased interest in material goods, and a broader worldview. This type of growth can lead a person beyond the goals and beliefs of the most literal forms of religion, and can make it hard for the person to relate to people with more conventional "here and now" or traditionally religious worldviews.

It sounds to me like something has spurred you toward this type of growth. Recognizing the changes you are going through as the pains of spiritual growth may suggest to you why your subject line "How to fix this" may be problematic. If spiritual growth leads us toward greater acceptance, it will include acceptance   of the things we cannot change, or "fix." We cannot demand   that others change or suddenly give up their conventional worldviews, especially not for the sake of meeting our needs. If your husband has not had the growth experiences you have, you cannot expect him to change just because you have.

Is there some other way your need for someone to "spiritually be there" and listen to you could be met by someone else - a very good girlfriend, a sibling or cousin who may have gone through similar changes? If not, could you consider a counselor of some sort, a cancer support group, or even a marriage counselor if the problems you and your husband are having "relating" are causing you that much pain.

It is interesting you tie your concerns into religious belief and faith issues. The way I see it, spirituality is more about the way an individual relates to life, truth and the universe personally   - which is a very different thing from belief in a supreme being, reward, punishment and an afterlife dictated to us by a religious institution.

Through my studies I have concluded that the more conventional and institutional a person's religious belief system, the less well they can relate individually and personally to the circumstances of an outlier (someone who is not fitting the conventional mold.) Also, the less well they can accept changing circumstances. When you say your husband doubts I think you mean he says he believes in God, but is not willing to explore what that means, and especially not what it means in terms of what you are going through. When you say you have faith, I think you mean something more like trust You accept and trust that a higher order (or God) will carry you through any challenge. This type of trust occurs further along in the spiritual journey, and is not the same as belief in the kind of God traditionally religious people "believe" in.

I hope this has helped you. But if my response has confused you, my final suggestion is that you consider working with a spiritual director, someone who can help you through these experiences. http://www.sdiworld.org/find-a-spiritual-director

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Margaret Placentra Johnston


I am particularly interested in answering questions about the stages of spiritual growth, faith development, religious stages. The term spiritual growth or spiritual development can have many different interpretations. In some cases, it refers to the ability to have para-normal or mystical experiences. Others use it to describe the ability to communicate with beings that are not present here on earth with us at this time, such as dead people or our own prior lifetimes. This is not where my knowledge and expertise lie. The type of spiritual growth questions I can address concern here and now issues about religious belief versus non-belief, the stages of religious development and spiritual development where spirituality is defined as living deeper than the surface things of life, knowing there is more to life than the latest new car, questioning the deeper meanings of our existence.


For at least the past twenty years I have been a serious student of the various spiritual development theorists. The concept of spiritual growth occurring in stages throughout our lifetime is a vitally important factor that, if more widely known, could help decrease a lot of the religious intolerance and societal tensions we are putting up with today. My book of stories about real people growing beyond the need for traditional religion was published by Quest Books in October, 2012: Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.

Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation(and many others unrelated to this topic.)

www.mpjauthor.com Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.(Quest Books, October, 2012.) http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-placentra-johnston/

Four college degrees, including an undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of America where required theology and philosophy courses formed the equivalent of a college minor.

Awards and Honors
GOLD WINNER of the 2013 Nautilus Book Award in Religion/Spirituality.

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