Of course there are WAY more than five signs that you’re doing well spiritually. But I wanted to at least start the conversation.
1. You are not plagued by fear. A New Testament phrase says it plainly: perfect love casts out fear. When you have an ongoing sense of God’s love for you, sooner or later you will let go of fear and hold on to trust. Of course this is a lifelong engagement. But fearfulness, especially chronic and obsessive fearfulness, points to an unhealthy perception of God and God’s relationship with you. Even ordinary and reasonable fears—the ones that motivate you to think clearly and use caution—are tempered by the belief that God’s love undergirds all of life.
2. You do not judge yourself or others harshly. A person who is healthy spiritually shows empathy and compassion. She does not see life in terms of “us” and “them”; she understands that the black/white, good/bad distinctions we make can be arbitrary and flawed; she looks for ways to reconcile and increase understanding and cooperation. A spiritually healthy person is more interested in restoration than in punishment; she recognizes the difference because she is convinced of God’s mercy and desire to help and heal us. This applies not only to how she views others but how she deals with her own life.
3. You experience and express a hopeful outlook. You see God’s fingerprint on the lives of people everywhere. You “see God in all things,” as St. Ignatius of Loyola would put it. You practice gratitude and expect the best from people. You are not interested in predicting awful things to come. You look for redemption in hard situations because you believe that Divine love has filled life with purpose and possibility.
4. You can dwell comfortably with shadow and mystery. A spiritually healthy person does not have to have all the answers, does not have to be right all the time, can live with ambiguity, and appreciates the mysteries of faith and life. He is able to face his own weaknesses and sins, taking responsibility for his choices and seeking forgiveness when appropriate. He understands that the shadow side of life—hurts and trials, mistakes and wounds—can not only teach us wisdom but also lead us to the grace of God.
5. You approach life creatively and openly. You don’t have to be in control because you trust that life can go many different ways and offer many new experiences and views. You are happy to learn and are willing to leave your comfort zone for the sake of your own growth and others’ good. You’re not afraid of problems because you have confidence that solutions can be found. You understand God to be far beyond your or anyone else’s descriptions, and that gives you a sense of freedom. This same freedom allows you to participate intentionally in spiritual practices and traditions because you recognize that God meets us where we are and works through faith communities, ordinary situations, and daily work.
This is just a list to get us started! What would you add to it, in describing the healthy spiritual life?