What is spiritual awakening? Spiritual awakening is when you connect with something greater, something bigger—an energy that engulfs you and makes you shine. People look at you differently, but in a good way—almost like they see an aura around you. You might notice people smiling at you, as if they notice something different about you. You may even feel enlightened or more sophisticated. You feel more at peace in life, especially when thrown curve balls. If you are lucky enough to experience a spiritual awakening, you will change everyone around you.
It doesn’t matter what religion you are or who you are, it happens to everyone. A spiritual awakening can happen on so many different levels. Usually a spiritual awakening happens after a life-changing event. It could be something tragic such as losing a loved one or as small as falling off a curb (assuming you don’t get hit by a car after falling off the curb!). Either way, we all have life-changing moments, which make us stop and look back in reflection on our past. It’s what happens in those moments that awaken us from reality. I am not saying that reality is bad, but it is good to have a different view of that reality in a heightened form, and if doing so can make us better people—why not?
You might have had a spiritual awakening and never even knew it. It’s the “awakening” part that has the impact on your everyday life. How awake were you when you reflected on your past? And how open were you to receiving enlightenment? If you’re angry, upset or bitter, your body will block the sunshine rays of hope and enlightenment. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. You’re still half asleep and yet awake enough to walk to the bathroom. You do your thing and then lie back down to sleep again because you don’t want to stay awake. You might have had a spiritual awakening but didn’t want to stay “awake” because of fear or anger. You briefly experienced a moment in your life that made you reflect on your past. You then discovered things, but instead of grasping them and holding on, you may have put them deep into your subconscious and moved on. It’s common for that to happen during smaller life-changing events, like losing a job or moving—you are aware of the awakening during the event but eventually move on with life once you get settled again.
Some people have more dramatic spiritual awakenings that lead them to do great things, such as Ellen DeGeneres, who came out as a lesbian in 1997. The reaction that she got from those she thought were her friends and people in the entertainment industry was disastrous. She lost advertisers and supporters all within a blink of an eye. With the loss of advertisers and the pressure from Hollywood, she had to cancel her show. Shortly after the cancellations, she had a spiritual awakening. How’s Ellen doing now? Since she started her syndicated talk show almost nine years ago, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” she’s won thirty-five Daytime Emmy Awards. Ellen has also raised over 50 million dollars for various causes. Even Oprah Winfrey is a testament to spiritual awakening at even a young age. She says that at the age of four she felt the spirit of God through the Bible verse Acts 17:28 (“For in him we live and move and have our being”). She has lived a life in the space of the spirit her whole life.
Although my spiritual awakening was to a much smaller degree than Oprah’s or Ellen’s, I did experience not just one but several. January of 2012 was the worst year of my life. I can even say that it topped my ugly divorce, which happened in 2007. My dad, who had been married to my mom for forty-five years, decided to take his own life. It happened suddenly as most suicides do, which shocked my entire family: my mom, two sisters, brother, their spouses, and their children. Probably the hardest moment was sitting down to tell my eight-year-old son. We are a close family with a solid Christian upbringing but nothing could have prepared us for that first year. Instead of being angry and asking all the “whys?” I reflected on my life with my dad, all the fun things we did together and all the fatherly advice he gave me. There was nothing that could undo what he had already done, the good and the bad ending to his life. I had to make a conscious decision to move on with peace, love, and hope. In doing so, I focused on God. The more I filled my heart with God’s grace, the less room I had for negative thoughts. It’s like keeping up a garden. Your heart is the garden and the water is God. When we start to feel depressed or have negative thoughts, we must pull those weeds and plant new flowers. It’s an ongoing process, but the more you do it, the more enlightened you get.
Just when I thought things were great, I broke my back while on a mission trip with my church. I happened to be on a remote island of Indonesia. It was my journey through Indonesia and finally making it home that brought the ultimate spiritual awakening to me. I lay in my hospital bed at home, listening to a friend talk about how grateful she was to God for sparing my life—when all of a sudden I realized how close to death I had been. I had jumped off a cliff into the ocean (feet first & nothing fancy) when I broke my back. I had been lucky to make it to the surface.
As I mentioned above, we all have spiritual awakenings. It’s what we do with them that matters. What will you do with yours?