A GEN Xer Tells It Like It Is : Spiritual Growth

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author/source: Katy Kostakis

Generation X is the moniker applied to those born after the Baby Boomers and preceding the Millennials. This series features the musings of a proud member of this generation.

Part One: A Search for Spiritual Growth

For thousands of years, humans have had that desire to connect with something or someone bigger than ourselves. To receive answers to questions beyond our own scope of knowledge or for guidance on issues that are weighing on the heart and mind. For some, they shout about their personal beliefs from the rooftops. For others, devotion is private and shared with no one.

My own relationship with religion and spirituality sent me on a journey which has taken me away from where I started.  Like anyone who has been raised with religion, I dutifully followed the teachings valued by members of my family. I would attend services on important holidays and events. I tried to follow the guidelines of that faith as much as I could because that’s what I felt was the correct thing to do. Having been taught to think independently by my parents, naturally, as I grew up and learned more about the world, I began questioning my spiritual beliefs; everything that I was ever taught.  One particular instance really jarred my belief system at a young age, and to this day I consider it one of the catalysts to me starting that journey. I remember sitting in a church youth group when the priest began discussing marriage and he stated something that instantly took me aback: that we should not marry outside our faith. I couldn’t comprehend the sheer audacity to tell a group of teenagers who they should be with, nor could I understand why something like that should have even been said in the first place, and frankly, it angered me. I was shocked that it was even uttered. Who was he or anyone else to tell me who I was going to love and marry? When it comes to the right man for me, the choice of faith really doesn’t matter, as long as there is love, respect, honor, a good heart, and every other positive quality all of us search for in a mate. This wasn’t a clear-cut case of defiance of ecclesiastical authority; it was when the proverbial light bulb went off in my mind: I don’t agree with this notion. As I went about my daily life, stories would float around of those openly disliking or even hating other ideas and in some (often extreme) cases, other people, simply because their dogma won’t allow it. They weren’t necessarily properly educated in a manner which would allow them to form an unbiased opinion, so they would rationalize it as this person, organization, or belief system says I shouldn’t approve of_________, so I won’t.

Generation_x_Spiritual_GuidanceCollege permitted me even more of a look into other ideas, yet I clung to the religion I was raised in. I still felt that it was important enough for me to maintain. Not long after college, I went on a trip to New Orleans, a city rooted in both mysticism and tradition. One of my traveling companions was exploring her own spirituality, which included some curiosity about Louisiana Voodoo. From the little that I knew about it, I felt a bit put off and I didn’t feel comfortable engaging in activities with that lean. I know now that I was guilty of exactly what I had complained about before: passing judgment over something I wasn’t entirely educated about.

A few years later, I came to the realization that I didn’t feel a heartfelt connection to the religion I was raised in. During those formative adult years, there came a time where I would sit in church services and not feel anything but boredom. My mind would continuously wander, and I found myself dawdling, staring at the opulent décor until it was time to head over to coffee hour. I felt like I was simply going through the motions. I was just a body in the pew, sitting and standing when necessary, waiting (im)patiently for the closing prayer to be recited. I pondered why certain things occurred in the world, why some suffered tragedy and loss and others didn’t. Did I blame a deity for those mistakes and tragedies of life? Did I feel that they were listening to me? Then, the million dollar question came up. What, if any, deity did I believe in? Did I consider myself an atheist? An agnostic? Spiritual, but not religious? Was there another religion for me?  I needed answers.

Personal-Spiritual-Path

Fast forward to my early thirties. After a series of particularly difficult events, I finally made that conscious decision to find my place in the spiritual world. The first step was an important one: to educate myself, through reading different texts, learning about certain practices, and watching documentaries and television specials (including one about Vodon, the West African religion that shares qualities with Louisiana Voodoo). I began to seek others to find out about their experiences, why they chose the path that they did, whether it resonated with me, and I realized that my true path is in Paganism. This positive spiritual system that I have followed for almost ten years embraces many of my personal beliefs and encouraged me to discover traditions in other types of spirituality, so I now have quite an eclectic mix of practices. It was as if the skies opened and poured out what I wished for.  I have had friends and colleagues of many different faiths; across all lines of race, sexual orientation, age, and gender. No matter what types of discussions we may have regarding spirituality, I try very hard to keep my mind open to different experiences and points of view, and I always have respect.  We may not agree in certain areas, but I respect their beliefs and I hope that they respect mine.  

Regardless of what spiritual path you follow, the journey is yours to make. No one can make it for you.

Mine ultimately led me to my personal spiritual practice, and I find it rewarding that my independent thinking brought me there, as well as the support I’ve gotten along the way.  It brought me to a place of serenity, confidence, peace, and harmony. I feel no doubt that it was the right choice for me, even if some don’t quite understand it. I am still perfectly comfortable attending special rites and events of various faiths (including my former one) as an observer or guest, usually weddings, baptisms, and funerals.  Just because that isn’t my personal path, that doesn’t mean I will stay away.

If there’s anything that I learned in my many years of life, it’s to never be afraid to question what I feel I need to question. How else do you learn and grow if you don’t question what’s in front of you? Whether you’re 25 or 75, the drive to become a well-rounded individual never ends, and shouldn’t.  It’s a continuous cycle that persists for as long as life itself. What kind of voyage is that without twists and turns?

 

 

Katy KostakisBIO: Katy Kostakis’  loquacious nature and lifelong love of performing led to her training for a broadcast career, yet her distinctive voice and style, with its conversational and highly descriptive tone, helped her to find her calling in written media. That love of words has produced a vast body of work, including content and concepts for marketing and advertising campaigns, product descriptions, lifestyle and entertainment articles, film reviews, opinion pieces, columns, and commentary. Her expertise and interests include Consumer Goods and Retail, Restaurants, Foodservice and Culinary, Arts and Entertainment, Cosmetics and Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel, Culture, Health and Wellness, History, and Literature. When she isn’t working, writing, or talking everyone’s ears off, Katy enjoys ‘80’s, rock, techno, and industrial music, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, art museums, Renaissance and Medieval history, Britcoms, and knows Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow will co-rule the Seven Kingdoms. To view her work, please visit her website at katykostakis.com.