There are a number of equally valid pathways for finding spiritual fulfillment. Not everyone sees or relates to God in the same way. In fact, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to spiritual intimacy in marriage is a failure to understand and appreciate the other’s spiritual language.
Don’t expect everyone else’s spiritual walk to be equal to yours. Spirituality isn’t carbon copied to fit everyone identically. There are a wonderful variety of ways to relate to God that are equally compelling.
Today, we are discussing nine common spiritual pathways. We have adapted and adjusted these pathways for couples with inspiration from our friend Gary Thomas’s Sacred Pathways. Our prayer for you as you read through these is that you reflect on how your partner might use one (or more) of these pathways, and how you can better understand and learn from them.
Those who walk the path of tradition love God through rituals, sacraments and symbols. Their life of faith is usually marked through structure and discipline. Routines such as prayer time, devotional time and regular church attendance happen weekly. Spiritual rituals of traditionalists are often passed down through generations.
Visionary people love God by dreaming a great dream. They are future oriented people who focus on what can be. Missions energize them, and they love to be a part of something bigger. Visionaries are not content to sit still – they prefer to gather others and point them in a better direction.
When you walk the pathway of relationships, you love God best by being around other people. These people struggle to pray on their own in quiet, and flourish in prayer with a group who shares their same spiritual journey. They are energized by the socialization that happens at a church gatherings and feel closest to God when they are with others who love God, too.
4. INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT
Intellectual path walkers seek God with their minds and delight in studying new ideas and models that bring them closer to God. Faith is something to be analyzed and understood as much as experienced. Books that bring a fresh understanding help these intellectual path-goers feel closest to God.
These people love God by loving others. By meeting the needs of others, they become the most energized. You will often find people who walk the pathway of service busy helping others; the hungry, the ill, and the forgotten. These “caregivers” feel closest to God when they are helping those who need it most.
Near and quiet are two words to describe those who walk the path of contemplation. These people are seeking ways to be close to God in a quiet pursuit. Contemplators listen to God through private meditation and prayers and rest in God’s presence. They are not wanting to explain God with intellectual concepts as much as they are seeking to be near Him.
Activists feel closest to God when they are fighting for a cause. They are at war with injustice and feel comfortable with confrontation. Activists are often energized by tough situations as they take their stand against evil in the world. They resonate with Jesus when he cleansed the temple, and they aspire to change the world with heartfelt convictions.
Those who walk the pathway of nature feel closest to God when they are outdoors. These believers are moved by creation. A walk through the woods, hiking, or enjoying an open meadow spiritually inspire these naturalists. After all, naturalists see God best by surrounding themselves with His beautiful creation.
Are you inspired by joyful celebration? Then you likely walk the path of worship. Worshipers are enthusiastic supporters of God and show this by singing, dancing, clapping their hands and shouting “Amen!” They don’t need rituals as much as they need to celebrate the glory of God.
Understanding your partner’s spiritual language is an important lesson in your relationship. When you recognize the different pathways to God, you better equip yourself to speak your spouse’s spiritual language. Let your spouse be who God created them to be, and learn from each other.