Have you been going through the motions of spirituality? For many of us, spirituality and religion are deeply intertwined, but spirituality is much harder to define and build, especially when it comes to connection. Building spiritual connection and growing closer to God doesn’t have to be a struggle and, the best part is, there isn’t one way to do it. In fact, it’s a pretty individual experience, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone in your journey.
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What is Spiritual Connection?
Most of us recognize connections to our partners, our families, our communities, and our friends. In part, our ability to recognize these connections is due to the tangible or observable. But what about spiritual connection? How do we recognize something we cannot see?
Swedenborgian theology notes that spiritual connection to God is, largely, not that different to the connections we feel with the people we’re close to. Those connections are about strong relationships, feeling known and seen, and about closeness. When it comes to a spiritual connection, whether to God, our church community or spouse for example, it is still about an intimate relationship between the divine and the human soul.
In other words, Swedenborgian theology recognizes that individuals can establish a direct and personal connection with the spiritual realm, outside of and beyond traditional religious structures. More specifically, spiritual connection is about increased awareness of the divine presence within oneself and in the world, and this awareness either creates or fosters a sense of unity with the divine.
If you think back, it is very likely that you recognize this feeling, though it may be hard to put into words, as it’s a feeling of connection to everything around you; it is often joyful or peaceful.
Why Do You Need a Spiritual Connection to God?
There is, of course, an argument to be made that any relationship with God is a spiritual connection, but we’re talking about something more than that.
According to Swedenborg, a spiritual connection is a transformative and ongoing process of enlightenment where we work to align our lives with higher spiritual principles. From this effort, this practice, we often come to a deeper understanding of the divine and a more fulfilling and purposeful existence. In other words, our spiritual connection to God can lead us to finding our purpose, strengthening our commitments as part of spiritual practice, and truly experiencing the love God wants for us.
As the source of infinite love and wisdom, a spiritual connection with God provides us with a direct line to that divine love and wisdom, enabling us to be open to guidance and inspiration from God which then plays out in our lives. And, it’s important to note that, when it comes to the afterlife, this spiritual connection continues to grow and strengthen, helping us to continue our growth and move through the afterlife experiencing divine love.
How Do You Build a Spiritual Connection to God?
As mentioned above, spiritual connections often occur “outside of and beyond traditional religious structures” which means that building a spiritual connection isn’t about physically walking into a church every Sunday. It isn’t always about the traditions, trappings, and expectations of organized religion (though that can and is often part of it). Afterall, many of us have felt intense spiritual connections to God while out in the wilderness, while standing atop mountains, gazing across oceans or lakes, or even catching snowflakes on our tongues.
We have undoubtedly felt those connections as we participated in acts of service, as we have felt, in our core, gratitude for our blessings and bounty, and as we have been comforted by our spiritual connection in times of grief or hardship.
While spiritual connection is often a deeply personal experience, online churches have also enabled people from all over the world to find their spiritual communities and make the human connections that can help them grow closer to God.
Thankfully, there are any number of ways to nurture a spiritual connection to God. In some cases, online churches can help us make connections to facilitate building that connection, but for many people, the path to spiritual connection is anything but linear. It is, at its essence, a journey of discovery and exploration as we move toward alignment on principles such as love, gratitude, patience, community, and spiritual growth.
That doesn’t, however, mean there aren’t some specific ways you can grow closer to God through spiritual connection.
- Personal Reflection
Developing a spiritual connection to God requires introspection. Deep self-reflection and increased awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions can help you identify areas where you are in alignment with God’s values and where you may need to put more effort.Further, self-awareness can lead to a deeper understanding of one’s relationship with God and a recognition of the divine presence in daily life. For example, it is in recognizing a lack of connection that leads many to seek out church communities. For others, recognizing deep connections to God may guide them towards leadership in those same church communities.
- Prayer and Meditation
Much like self-reflection, engaging in a prayer or meditation practice can help foster a spiritual connection. These practices which carve out dedicated time prioritize your spiritual connections. During these times you may express gratitude, seek guidance, and, in opening up your thoughts and feelings to God, help establish intimacy with God which strengthens that connection.
- Seeking Meaning and Purpose
As we noted above, spiritual connections can help us identify our life’s purpose as we align with the ideals we value. Any activities we engage in to help us find that meaning, to better understand that purpose, are working towards helping us build a spiritual connection. In other words, through actions in alignment with spiritual principles, we gain purpose which brings us closer to God.
- Connecting with Others
Across the world, many spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of gathering with community and connecting with others. Shared spiritual practices, whether religious ceremonies, participation in spiritual communities, or collective acts of service can strengthen the sense connection to God through shared experiences.
- Practicing Gratitude
Staying mindful and practicing gratitude can help individuals recognize and appreciate the beauty and goodness in the world around them. Remember that mountain? That stream? The snowflakes? In appreciating the beauty of those places, we also appreciate not only the divine, but the others who have shared a place or experience – we feel connected. Through this awareness we can deepen our sense of connection to God’s creations.
- Living in Alignment with Spiritual Principles
We often hear, “Practice what you preach” but perhaps we’re focusing on the wrong part? Often, this phrase is used to point out hypocrisy. What if, instead, we focused on the practice part? Living in alignment with spiritual principles doesn’t mean being perfect, it means Integrating spiritual principles into one’s daily life. This means practicing compassion, forgiveness, and love. Striving to embody these principles in actions and relationships reflects a commitment to spiritual growth and God.
- Read the Bible
The Bible is designed to serve as a guide for spiritual seekers. Reading and reflecting on the story can deepen our understanding of our values, provide insights into the nature of God, and strengthen the spiritual connection.
- Acts of Service
Acts of service are a physical manifestation of one’s faith and commitment to living a life in alignment with religious principles. Selfless service, kindness, and helping others are a concrete way to express one’s love for God and fulfill spiritual obligations. They help us connect with the community and strengthen our collective connections to one another and to God. This could include helping the less fortunate, caring for the sick, providing for the needy, or simply being there for someone in times of difficulty. By serving others, individuals demonstrate compassion and empathy, reflecting the teachings of love and kindness found in Swedenborgian theology.
- Get out in nature
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this one as, for many, the natural world is a very physical reminder of God’s creation. Experiencing and witnessing this creation is a tangible reminder that we are here because of God. Similarly, for many of us, this is among the physical ways we can experience our spiritual connection to the divine.
10. Do your own thing
We provide this list not as a directive, but as a way of searching and exploring. It’s not prescriptive. As we mentioned above, building a spiritual connection and growing closer to God is a very personal experience. We may find that one of these methods or strategies is more impactful than another and that’s largely an individual experience. Some feel a spiritual connection to God when they play, hear, or experience music or when they create art. For others, endurance sports like running or cross-country skiing elicit the same feeling. It’s up to you.
However you decide to build your connection to God is largely up to you, but Swedenborgian theology certainly stresses that nurturing that connection is an essential and eternal process. Finding what works for you is paramount.
If you’re looking for a church community to help you explore building your spiritual connection and growing closer to God, we encourage you to reach out – regardless of where you are in the process. NewChurch Live, as an online church community, understands that spirituality is an individual journey and process, but a community can certainly help guide you.
Get in touch or get involved with us today and let’s put spirituality into practice!