I discuss this question with my son frequently.
I was raised outside of a religion per se, but as a child, I went to church anyway. In my hometown (in northern Indiana), the church bus came to my neighborhood on Sundays. The driver would hand out candy, and the word got around. It was his way of attracting children to the word of the Lord, and it worked. I was a kid. I liked candy. I was curious about where this bus would go. My mom didn't seem to mind. So I hopped on the church bus every Sunday morning. The bus driver, named Bill, got to bring children to church (It was Nazarene for a while, but he changed denominations a few times. So we did as well.), and we still got our Snickers bars. Everyone was happy.
Going to church meant I did, indeed, learn about the Christian faith. I learned Bible verses. I was given my very first Bible when I was in fourth grade--for learning a certain number of verses and reciting them out loud in Bible study class--and I believed. I did. I developed a deep sense of faith as a child. But the beauty, I think, of having switched churches a few times was that my faith was well-rounded. I learned how different churches used the word of the Lord. And I learned to distinguish those beliefs. I learned to accept what worked for me, and to reject what didn't. I learned to believe in a loving God and a God that really was everywhere I went.
When I had children and married a man who happened to be Lutheran, I learned that the Lutheran faith was not as flexible as my own beliefs. But I also understood I could still use my own free will and ability to think, and accept and reject what worked and didn't work for me. In my mind, God was still the same, Jesus was still the same. But I preferred to think of my Lord as a loving, forgiving presence. I didn't alway feel this Lutheran faith operated on that concept. Sometimes, I felt the pastor's sermons made God seem like a tyrant. But I was okay with that. Because I could still believe, still have faith, and still pray. And I still had a church that gave me the time and space to do that. So I raised my children to be Lutherans, mostly because I wanted them to have a connection to the God concept. I knew they would have to some day develop their own understanding about it.
And my son has since grown up and now questions his faith. Rather, he questions his religion. But he sometimes confuses the two. I do not think they are one and the same. I'm kind of sorry he didn't have the experience I had. I learned as a young child to distinguish faith from religion, but I didn't realize that till I'd grown up. He learned to believe only one way--the Lutheran way. The challenge there is that he's not a one-way kind of kid. He's more like his mom. He wants doors to open up. He wants to experience and see more than what one religion sometimes seems to allow. So he's exploring. He's been studying other religions. I think that's a good thing.
And so we've discussed this idea about having a spiritual life rather than a religious one. It seems to work for both of us best.
Whatever the case may be for you, I do believe we are spiritual. We all have a soul within us that speaks of a greater being than ourselves, something that is beyond our human body. And I think that's where your spiritual side resides. It is the part of you that cannot be seen, only felt. It is the part of you that believes and doesn't have to see. It is the part of you that knows there is some force working in your favor, if you let it. That's called faith.
If you haven't spent any time considering this for yourself, and if your troubling times are holding you back from something you are trying to achieve, maybe it's time to consider where you are on a spiritual level.
There is no one else who can determine that for you but you.
When I was riding my bike through my divorce, I spent a lot of time on that bike seat praying, believing and reconnecting with my faith. It's why I kept moving forward. It's why I live the best life I can possibly live. It's why I wake up most days with a smile on my face. It's why I approach the day's difficulities with creativity and excitement. It's why I know a challenge won't end me. Instead, I believe challenges make me who I am today.
Does your spiritual self do that for you? Do you need a spiritual navigation guide?
Just something to think about...