While watching one of two The Best of The Oprah Winfrey Show episodes on OWN today, I was astounded by how small-minded we can be. This episode featured best-selling authors Betty Eadie and Sophy Burnham. The topic was spiritual beliefs, specifically how to get closer to God and what questions we would ask if God were physically here with us in this moment. When the discussion shifted to our path to God, some of the audience members adamantly believed that the only path to God was through Jesus. They could not fathom the notion that we all have different paths. And though different, these paths still lead us to the same place—to God. One part of me says, “Of course. How could you not believe this, especially if this is the only path you were exposed to?” But the other part of me says, “How small of you to think your way is the only way. There are multiple ways, multiple paths to get to the ultimate destination.”
When it comes to our beliefs, there’s a comfort in what’s familiar. There’s also a sense of complacency because we do not question anything. We don’t challenge ourselves. And we easily welcome those in who believe and feel the same way we do. When someone or something challenges what we believe, we get defensive and, often, are not as receptive or open to other possibilities (as was the case with a certain audience member on this best-of episode who tried to read—and I do mean READ—Oprah the riot act, but Oprah wasn’t having it).
In our lives, we all follow different paths to get to the ultimate destination (to God). Our life experiences are what can bring us closer to or take us away from God. While our paths may be different, we still get to the same destination. For me, the obvious example of this is the beltway. The beltway is composed of several different intercounty and interstate highways that connect at various junctions. These junctions help get us to our respective destinations. Often times, many of us are going to the same destination but we take a different route. Though the route taken and the time of arrival may be different, we all still reach the same destination. And as most who’ve traveled on the beltway will probably testify, it helps to know alternate routes to get to your destinations. We get into problems when we’re only open to taking one path. And if we can’t get beyond this one path, we don’t have to wonder why change and different results continue to elude us.
Spirituality tells us that we each have our own unique relationship with God. Let no man tell you different. The responsibility to maintain and nurture this relationship falls on us. Religion, on the other hand, is a tool that we can use to help manage our relationship with God. What we call God or what religion we follow is insignificant, since so many of our principles, values, and beliefs are universal. It’s about being connected to a spirit, a being greater than ourselves—and letting that spirit guide and direct us. But it’s our choice whether we want to accept it. We don’t have to. And that doesn’t make us any better or worse than the other. Just be flexible, open, and accepting of the fact that there are several paths available for us in this life. And remember, while our path or walk may be different—the ultimate destination is universal and always the same.