Last week, the world went to church – black Baptist style – during the funeral of Whitney Houston. For many, it was the first time they’d experience a “homegoing” in that manner. For me, it was what I expected from Whitney’s family and I thought it was pitch perfect, just like her. It did, however, raise a debate on spiritual practices among many circles. It made me wonder whether people question their spiritual compatibility when entering into a new relationship.
To be clear, I’m not merely speaking about religion, because I don’t consider myself religious although I go to church regularly. Over the years, I’ve met many “religious” people who needed to work on their spirits. I think we all can relate. Many of those religious people give religion a bad name by doing evil and injustice in the name of religion. No, I’m talking about spirituality, which is a different and loftier concept.
Last year, I had one of my sister-friends over who’d recently started dating a guy who practiced Buddhism. She is a devout and faithful Christian, which made her wrestle with the idea of getting into a serious relationship with a Buddhist. It troubled her because it was really her only concern. Otherwise, the guy she was dating was exceptional.
“Well, are you spiritually compatible?” I asked. She replied, “Clearly we’re not.” She misunderstood my question. I wasn’t asking if they follow the same religion or religious practices, but rather when it came down to the way they both looked at the world — their spirituality and faith — were those beliefs congruent? It made her think beyond mere nomenclature and look to the root of true spirituality.
My pastor often cites that many of the world’s religions, taken at their core, believe the same fundamental things about life and the way you live it. Jesus isn’t much different than Buddha, and so forth. The golden rule runs throughout most of the world’s religions. I encouraged her to have a talk with him about his faith, why he practices Buddhism and the fundamentals of the practice.
Personally, I’d been in relationships with people who would deem themselves Christians, but spiritually we weren’t compatible. Our life views were diametrically different, and we didn’t speak the same spiritual language, although we shared the same religion. From my experience, I knew that there was more to the story than the surface of a religious title. Plus, I’d encountered many Buddhists along the way and found myself agreeing with the great majority of what they had to say about life.
My sister-friend took my advice and they shared a month-long education on Christianity and Buddhism. He wanted to experience Christianity from her perspective, as his previous encounters had not been good. In turn, she learned more about Buddhism and accompanied him to see his practice. They both discovered that there were more similarities than differences in their beliefs and spiritual language. The exercise actually bonded them even further and I’m happy to report that they’ll be getting married this fall.
It worked out for my sister-friend because ultimately she and her fiancé are spiritually compatible. However, it could go the other way if you’re not, especially if spirituality and/or religion are important to one person and not the other. Along with questions about kids, finances, and sex, I encourage you to also ask, “Are [we] spiritually compatible?”
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy. Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.