PARKVILLE, MD---A month into 2014, people are shedding a few pounds, hitting the exercise bikes and doing financial planning as paths to self-improvement.
But what about spiritual growth as a goal for a new year?
Jim Truitt offers perspective on this question. He is the Senior Community Resources Manager for the Pastoral Ministries Department at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living retirement community.
"The spiritual journey is not a popular resolution because we've become an entertainment and consumer society. People are typically influenced by what is reflected around them," stated Mr. Truitt. "Those cultural influences rarely tout inward deliberation."
Seeking spiritual growth is a unique experience. As a commitment, though, it can follow a familiar path to committing to other resolutions, such as starting a fitness regimen.
Mr. Truitt offers a road map:
Many people are inspired by their religion's liturgical calendar, which contain built-in opportunities for spirituality. For everyone, a quiet time of reflection helps establish spiritual goals for the year.
Turning inward to ask thought-provoking questions offers a start to setting goals:
• What is it that nurtures my soul?
• What keeps me connected to the world and provides meaning?
Similarly, religious traditions have markers to encourage tangible action, such as the Lenten season. Beyond those, there are three steps to consider in spurring achievement:
• Growth through learning: Take time to travel or read books to stretch your understanding of other faiths and opportunities in the world.
• Growth through community: Connecting via shared interests such as a hiking group or a bridge club, etc. is common. But what kind of spiritual fellowship do you enjoy?
• Growth through service: When you give to other people, you are really giving a gift to yourself. Consider volunteering as a reading tutor or donating time at a homeless shelter to make a difference for those in need.
Like having a "workout buddy," sharing personal goals with a trusted family member or friend increases accountability. Keep a journal that chronicles activity, reflection and moments of learning. It can provide motivation if you are falling behind or encouragement that you are on the right path.
At the end of the year, success is always in the eye of the beholder. Spiritual growth defies tangibility, but one way to measure it is through the lens of balance. Put all of your goals on the table, such as career and fitness, and see if you've integrated the spiritual aspect into your life.
Geri Larkin said that "spiritual growth is like learning to walk. We stand up, fall, stand up, fall, take a step, fall, take a couple of steps, fall, walk a little better, wobble a bit, fall, run, and finally, eventually fly."
"In the context of self-improvement, the spiritual side often takes a backseat to other valuable goals. However, as with other resolutions, setting priorities, acting upon them and tracking results is a great way to enhance your spiritual journey," described Mr. Truitt.
Jim Truitt has served as the Senior Community Resources Manager in the Pastoral Ministries Department of Oak Crest, the Erickson Living retirement community, for fourteen years. The department serves residents of all faiths by facilitating worship services, offering counseling and coordinating activities that foster spiritual growth. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Oak Crest: Oak Crest is one of seventeen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living. Located in Parkville, Maryland, the scenic 87-acre campus is home to more than 2,100 residents. Oak Crest is the ideal greater Baltimore retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure.