Practices From the Inside Out: When Spiritual Life Falls to Pieces

Practices From the Inside Out: When Spiritual Life Falls to Pieces October 14, 2017


When Spiritual Life Falls to Pieces

There are times when everything seems to just fall apart.

We were trying to put all the pieces in place and hold them together. If only we worked as fast as we could and solved the puzzle, everything would be alright. We almost had it together when it all fell apart and nothing was the way it was supposed to be.

This is not the way we expected things to happen. Spiritual life was going to fill us with joy and celebration. We would be living in abundance, in harmony with all the sacred truths in the universe.

Our beautiful vision of spiritual life has come apart and crashed to the ground. Rather than joy and beauty we are left with broken pieces and failure.

Who could believe this might be worth the effort? Why would anyone trust spiritual life?

We look at the pieces of spiritual life and see just another set of broken promises.

People who care about spiritual life often try hard to make it work. They want to experience strong spiritual life and feel the way they think spiritual life makes them feel. Spiritual life becomes an important part of how they see themselves and want other people to see them.

It is easy to assume spiritual life grows because they are trying so intentionally to make it grow. If only they could focus more or practice more diligently, spiritual life might be stronger within them.

The people who care about spiritual life take it very seriously when it does not feel right. They may see themselves as responsible for doing something wrong or poorly. It is not unusual for them to blame themselves or feel guilty. They may feel they have not earned or do not deserve strong, healthy spiritual life.

What Happens When Spiritual Life Falls to Pieces

Many people experience spiritual life collapsing when things they did not expect happen.

They may see spiritual life as a linear progression, each step following the last. It may be they were taught there is a checklist or a prescribed path of spiritual development.

Some people set out to make as much progress in spiritual life as quickly as they can. They look at it like education, one grade following another toward graduation. There are people who would like to skip a few grades and finish early.

Spiritual life may not behave like the set of rules or code of conduct we believe it is. Our understanding of spiritual life could be rigid or brittle and not able to accept change.

When we experience spiritual life in ways which do not fit our preconceptions it can fell like it is collapsing.

Our experiences tell us what we believed spiritual life to be is falling to pieces.

When spiritual life falls to pieces we are left without a framework to support us. It can feel as though we have nothing left to hold onto, nothing to hold us up.

Many of us believe we have done something wrong to destabilize spiritual life. If only we had behaved differently spiritual life would not be crumbling around us.

People may receive certain ideas when they learn about spiritual life as children. Some people do not question cultural assumptions about spiritual life.

When we accept our concept of spiritual life from others we may need to test our assumptions. If our experience does not match what we have heard from others our understanding may be hazy.

When our understanding is weak it may fall down in pieces.

Picking Up the Pieces

When it feels like spiritual life falls to pieces around us we may not be eager to rebuild. It can be a particularly painful or depressing experience for us. Even seeing the pieces scattered on the ground might overwhelm us.

It is important for us to take things in our own time. It may be a relief for people who have been subjected to spiritual abuse to knock the pieces down.

People who have valued spiritual life often come back to pick the pieces up off the ground. Without being rushed, they are interested in understanding what happened to them. Some want to experience spiritual life again in new ways. Others hope to make sure nothing like that ever happens to them again. Some look for missing pieces.

For a variety of reasons people have lessons to learn when spiritual life falls to pieces.

Finding lessons in the broken pieces takes time and effort, patience and perseverance. It is significant to have the help of someone you trust.

People who set out to build a new relationship to spiritual life often find new ways to fit pieces together. It can be a challenging lifelong process.

It is important for us to remember it is not usually spiritual life which has broken. We are more likely to be sifting through the broken pieces of our own perspectives. As we examine them we may find a way to live spiritual life more authentically.

We make conscious decisions about what we believe and what we do not. Spiritual life is not limited to how we experience it.

Space for the Extra Pieces

The more open we are to spiritual life, the more we understand there is more than we can see.

Our new relationship to spiritual life may be significantly different from the one we left behind. We may choose some of the same pieces, but we will probably make room for new ones. There may be other pieces left.

It is not surprising when how we relate to spiritual life grows over time. We may begin with ideas from childhood or people around us, but we put those concepts to the test.

If what we think we believe cannot survive everyday life, is it really spiritual life?

How does what you believe, your understanding of spiritual life, fit together?

What will we learn this week which will change how spiritual life lives in us?

[Image by PragmaticFix]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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