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Respect the journey — it’s your own

I just returned to Spokane last week after spending time with my family for the holidays. Even though they only live 300 miles away, I only get back to see everyone two or three times each year. It seems that my nephews grow a lot between each of my visits. Beyond just their height, they are making great progress in learning how to read, write and many other arenas educationally, mentally and physically.

As much of a joy as it is to see my family and friends, there are some in my peer group who remark about my life and my “spiritual state.”  And, while I understand their perceptions, they are misplaced at best and feel inappropriate. The simple truth is that I am on a journey — a personal, spiritual journey — that is my own.  And I believe that these journeys must be personal. It is not sufficient to just follow someone else's footsteps. Nor is it sufficient to blindly adopt a church doctrine without grappling and learning for oneself.

What looks to some like me choosing to disbelieve, I grapple with belief systems and church doctrine in a whole-hearted effort to grow in wisdom — not just knowledge — and determine what truth means for me. I cannot be satisfied with another person's reality. It is something that I have to put into practice, testing the waters and measuring beliefs to my own satisfaction. And it's a process! There will never be a day when I wake up and just have it all figured out, but I will grapple every single day.

The spiritual journey is not one people can observe — like my nephews getting bigger — but it is one that needs to be personally nurtured and respected by all. While this journey is mine, your journey belongs to you.

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About Kyle Franklin

Kyle A. Franklin is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, where he earned his Master's in Religious Studies. He completed his bachelor's degree in history and religion at Pacific Lutheran University in 2007 and has worked in both the ELCA Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church.

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  1. Kyle,

    I can see how family gatherings might be less than comfortable. I have had those encounters when what I believe and what my family members believe seem to be at odds.

    I appreciate your insight and words of wisdom. It is interesting to observe that some people expect everyone else to be in the same place as they are in the journey, but that is not the case. Everyone is on the journey, but you are right that some are traveling this journey blindly (or nearly so), not slowing down to really assess what it is they believe and why.

    Commentators on the Gospel of John write about the way the author depicts people at various stages of belief, and demonstrates that for some, the process is longer than for others. It’s a good reminder to all of us, for sure.

    One of the books I have been recommending frequently is entitled “I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus.” (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-once-was-lost-don-everts/1112134362?ean=9780830836086). The authors discuss their observation that many people travel through several thresholds of belief before becoming believers and beginning their new journey with Christ. However easy it looks to me (an outsider) to cross each threshold, to the person trying to cross this threshold (the insider), it seems an insurmountable barrier. This has given me new respect and sympathy for those who are traveling that road.

    And even though I consider myself a believer in Jesus, I too am still on a journey. Growing in faith does not stop when one believes.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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