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Excerpt from:

The Journey Upward
Defining Moments in the Life of a Spiritual Psychologist
by Marilyn C. Barrick, Ph.D.

Chapter 9
Accelerating the Spiritual Journey

The best gifts are the ones given from the heart,
gifts that infuse our rituals with feelings and values.
They’re the ones that bring joy to the recipient and the giver.
–-Frances Lefkowitz

         Over the years many of my clients have asked me, “How do I accelerate my spiritual journey? And how do I know when I pray and get an answer that it’s higher guidance? Sometimes I think the thoughts that come to me are just my own ideas.”
         I tell them what I have learned from my life experiences and spiritual practices. I know that God always answers our prayers, not necessarily through words that are spoken but through the experiences we have when we attune to our Holy Christ Self and I AM Presence, and sometimes through a change in our life circumstances.

Heeding the Voice of God

         I do not hear God speaking to me as the prophets of old did, but on several occasions I have been awakened by a voice that is giving me spiritual direction. As I think about these experiences, realize that they are not a figment of my imagination but a spiritual direction from my I AM Presence and Holy Christ Self.
         Sometimes the direction is a simple reminder to do what I know Jesus or another ascended master would do, and at other times the direction is to take an action that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to me. There are also times when the guidance comes as an inner prompting to think about the possibilities inherent in a problematic situation and to choose the one that is most in keeping with the will of God. Whether or not we understand and follow the inner guidance is up to us.
         I am reminded of a client of mine who earnestly desired to accelerate her spiritual awareness. Rebecca knew enough to pray about it, but she didn’t know exactly what steps to take to become more spiritually aware in her daily life. We had several conversations about it over time, and one in particular began a life-changing process for her.

Rebecca’s Dilemma

         In this session Rebecca was telling me, in a rather puzzled tone of voice, that she wanted to be more spiritual but didn’t know exactly how to do it. As she put it, “I don’t like the fact that I hardly ever pray anymore even though I used to pray a lot when I was a kid. Somehow it slips my mind most of the time unless I’m in big trouble. And then I’m kind of embarrassed to pray for help because I know what’s happening is my own fault!”
         I asked, “What do you mean when you say it slips your mind? Do you mean it doesn’t occur to you to pray or that you kind of push the urge to pray to one side and forget about it?”
         “I guess it’s more like I push it to one side, but I don’t do that on purpose—it just seems to happen,” she replied.
         “Okay,” I continued. “There has to be a reason that you are doing that. Let’s take a moment to talk about that and I’ll ask you some questions. First of all, tell me what is going in your mind when you push something aside?”
         Rebecca was quiet for a few minutes as she pondered an answer. Then she responded, “It’s usually something I don’t want to think about, like something that scares me or something I’ve done wrong.”
         “Okay,” I said. “Give me an example and maybe that will help us figure out what is going on.”
         “All right,” Rebecca answered softly. “Something is coming to mind, but I definitely don’t like to think about it. I’m remembering how as a child I always got spanked when I did something wrong, so I would try to forget whatever I’d done and hope that nobody else would find out.
         “What would happen is that my brother would tell on me anyway and I’d get in big trouble—not only for what I’d done but for not owning up to it in the first place!”
          “Okay,” I responded. “It’s a big step forward for you to remember those childhood experiences because it means you are getting ready to resolve them. As we keep going here, I suggest you ask yourself why these memories are coming to mind at this particular time in your life. Is there anything happening right now that is somehow similar to what happened to you as a child? Think about that for a few moments and tell me what comes to mind.”

Exploring Rebecca’s Distress

          Rebecca reflected on my questions and responded, “Well, I hadn’t really thought about it this way but my relationship with my boyfriend is kind of similar. We’ve been going together for a long time but he hasn’t asked me to marry him. And that upsets me. I don’t want to have any more casual relationships. I’ve had enough of those in my life!”
          Rebecca became visibly upset as she began to tell me more about her relationship with her boyfriend. She said with a mix of temper and distress, “Stan seems to be out for whatever good time he can have at the moment. But he never talks about wanting to get engaged or married, and if I try to bring it up he says I’m nagging him.”
          She paused for a moment and, with some hesitancy, began to tell me exactly how she felt about the situation, “This is kind of embarrassing to talk about, but I think the problem is that I got tired of waiting for Stan to ask me to marry him. So I started dated other guys without telling him. You might say that the inevitable eventually happened. He found out I was dating other guys and got really ticked off!”
          “What did he say,” I asked.
          “Well,” she said with a sigh, “he told me that if I was going to sleep around, he didn’t want to have anything to do with me. And I hadn’t slept with anybody! He just jumped to conclusions. That’s how much trust he has in me.”
          “Did you tell him that he was jumping to conclusions that weren’t true?” I asked.
          “No!” she responded with a grimace. “I was too mad at him for assuming I’d be the kind of girl who would sleep around. He should know me better than that!”
          “I can understand your feelings,” I responded, “but in all fairness, you kind of set that one up, right?”
          “Oh, I suppose so,” Rebecca replied with a sigh. “And I know that’s why I’ve been feeling so terrible. I’m embarrassed because I didn’t tell Stan the truth in the first place. But I’m afraid if I tell him now, I’ll get yelled at all over again. I guess I’m not being very spiritual, am I?” she added with a sigh.

The Price of Not Being Honest

          “I believe the biggest problem you have is not being honest with Stan,” I responded. “You love this guy. But as far as I can tell, you haven’t let him know that you do. Maybe it’s time for you to come clean and tell him how much you love him along with apologizing for the way you misled him.”
          “I’m afraid if I do, he’ll never speak to me again,” Rebecca moaned.
          "Why don’t you give it a try?” I replied. “If you tell him how you really feel about him, I think you’ll feel better inside yourself—and maybe he’ll surprise you. It seems to me that no matter how he takes it, you will be letting him know that you really do love him and that’s why you’re so upset.”
          Rebecca was silent and obviously thinking about what I had said to her. After a few moments, she responded with a sigh of resignation, “I suppose you’re right. I don’t even like myself when I act this way. I suppose the worst thing that can happen is that he gets really mad at me and dumps me for good,  but I guess that’s better than him believing I cheated on him.”

Renewing the Love Relationship

          Rebecca followed through, and at first Stan did exactly what she was afraid he would do—he got upset and yelled at her. However, after a few days he called her and said he wanted to talk it over. They talked it through and prayed about it, and the end result was that Stan realized that Rebecca loved him as much as he loved her. They made a pledge to be up-front with each other, which began the process of restoring their relationship.
          Several months later, Rebecca called to tell me that Stan had asked her to marry him and she had accepted. She told me they both realized that no matter what mistakes they had made, they deeply loved each other. And they agreed together that no matter what happened from that time on, they would talk it through until they resolved the problem.
          Rebecca told me that she believed it was her therapy along with their fervent prayers that brought about this miraculous resolution. She said she would always be grateful to God for helping her and Stan to renew their love for one another.
          She came in one more time for a follow-up session and shared with me how much she loved Stan and how right they were for each other. She also told me that in addition to their personal prayers, she and Stan were praying together and she knew the prayers were helping them to rebuild trust in one another. Several months later, I received their wedding announcement, which was a happy conclusion to their
drama. ...


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