Updated: Jul 30
What is spirit? It is the most central part of our personhood, and yet the most illusive. It is the thing we see through, yet cannot see. It is what we experience life through, and yet cannot experience except through how it moves.
We can understand our spiritual self in comparison to our physical self. Just as our physical body has needs and functions, so does our spiritual. We have spiritual eyes and ears, and spiritual needs too. We have a spiritual stomach which must be fed with spiritual food. Our spirit is, by nature, eternal, but only in connection to The Eternal. In God we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). The fact that we do not know how to feed our spirit is in large part why our spirit self is so dormant and out of touch.
We are not that aware of our spiritual self and its senses because they are numb, having been neglected and starved for too long. Part of the work of personal transformation is bringing this side of ourselves back to life in learning how to help it awaken, thrive, and come back into play as one third of our being. Because our spirit is invisible, it is also by nature much harder to get in touch with and understand. Even in my Christian upbringing, I can’t say I was taught all that much about my spiritual self, how it worked, and how to help it awaken and thrive. I was mostly taught a very physical, behavior-oriented religion, which talked a lot about what do with my body, feel in my heart, and think with my brain, but not how to get in tune with the spiritual through my spirit.
Just as our physical self is meant for interaction with the physical world, so our spiritual self is meant for interaction with the spiritual world. Understanding a bit about that world will help us understand our spirit.
The spiritual world is the arena in which our spirit interacts with other spirits, both human and divine. There is an order to the way this world works. We have spirits in order to connect with all life on a spiritual level. Remember my dog story, where I was able to sense his fearful energy and then speak back to the dog that I was there to love and not to harm. A lot of the energy I felt, though translated through my body, was spiritual energy.
Spiritual energy allows for a connection between beings that transcends their physicality. It's like the force in Star Wars. It is the invisible energy which surrounds us, and allows us to connect and know others in ways that defy the parameters of our physical self. But, unlike Star Wars, that energy has a personality; namely, the Holy Spirit. That's why Scripture calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Unity. We can have a sense of people and environments through our spirit beyond what we could through the physical. Getting more in tune with our own spiritual side opens the door for us to be more in tune with the spiritual energy flowing all around us. We all experience this energy on some level, whether we are in tune with it or not, and cannot help but react to it. Being in tune with it simply keeps us from being blindsided by it. When we can see, hear, and feel things with our spiritual self, then we can understand a lot more about the world in which we live, and thus be much healthier in our reactions to it.
Through my breakdown and recovery, God revealed that I am sensitive to spiritual energy. As a child and adult, I translated that sensitivity as anxiety and depression, and tried to numb myself to it. Through my breakdown, God pulled the lid off that numbness, and restored me back to the original intent of my sensitivity. It was painful to go through, but it has become a great strength as I’ve learned to walk in and understand it. As a result, I am able to sense what’s going on inside and around me. It’s given me the ability to understand a lot more about how this spiritual energy works and why. The why, I think, is the most important part of all.
The purpose of our spiritual self is affection and connection. Just as I was able to sense the energy of that dog, and understand what it was and what to do about it, being in tune with our spiritual self helps us connect with people and places in a more direct ways. That’s the point. We were made for connection. It's through our spirit connection that we have the most direct sense of the causality of community. When we can feel the effect we have on others, and their effect on us, we have the truest sense of what is right and wrong. That is why spiritual numbness is so detrimental.
The more numb we are to we effect the world around us, the more we are able to harm the world through our ignorance. I believe that numbness is the cause of most human problems in the world. The Christian ideas of the Fall and sin speak to this reality. In separation from God, we lost our spiritual sensitivity. Through that spiritual state of disconnection comes all the evil in the world. If I understand my true power and connectedness to all living things, then I will understand my true identity and place as a part of all things. Then I will no longer see myself as an individual acting only on my own for my own good. Then I will understand that I cannot harm anything without also harming myself, and that will change my life.
Getting more in tune with our spirit is vital. This is how we come back alive in the proper way. But we can't do that with out the help and guidance of God through the Holy Spirit. The two best methods for that are Scripture and Prayer. In Scripture we can learn what God is like. And through Prayer we can start learning what it's like to interact with God. These two things have led the way in my journey back to a greater sensitivity in my spirit, through the Holy Spirit, to the reality of the spiritual world.