5 Books and Podcasts to Help You Build Your Spiritual Connection

Whoa. I have had a hell of a week.

 My husband and I had one of those arguments where you are feel like you are underwater and then you hear yourself saying these terrible things like I AM DONE WITH YOU and I AM GIVING UP ON YOU and you feel like WAIT – WHAT AM I SAYING?

And then I hear him saying, “I just really needed to tell you that,” and I’m thinking WAIT? WHAT? I MISSED IT but I don’t want to say that because it seems like it will prove every bad thing he seems to be thinking about me.

That I am selfish, and I don’t listen. That I am a bad mother and a worse wife. I get it into my head that he thinks that if I just did whatever he wanted all the time, then we would be happy.

I know that’s not true. That’s not what he thinks. He has been the kindest person to me, the most reliable, the most supportive.

But I am cracking under the weight of this conflict.

 And what folly, what folly, what folly, for us to try to talk to each other when we are like this.

 Nothing feels safe.  

This voice starts in my head that says I’m so stupid I’m so stupid I’m so stupid. Relentless. I plunge into an old trauma behavior: I ball up my fists and start smashing myself in the head, and have a headache that lasts for days. Now it hurts to wear my glasses, because I have bruises behind my ear, and I can’t lay on one side because my head is bruised. In this self-attack, I hurt my wrist somehow.

And here we are.

A week later.

The fight is still going.

I am still crying every day. I am looking for a way to stay married until I go to Hawaii. (Not really, but that’s how it feels.) I think we should probably cancel (not really, but that’s how it feels.) How stupid, how much hubris did we have planning that trip? Some suspicious, old, desperate part of me emerges that thinks, Did I cause this, by being optimistic? Did I ruin everything by thinking we were ok? I felt SO GOOD about that trip. Man. What was it, like two weeks ago?

But cancelling our trip to Hawaii isn’t the most obvious choice for helping this argument or taking good care of this marriage.  

So, what is?

Truthfully, I have no idea. My strategy is writing angry letters to God, demanding help. To even tell you that is embarrassing. It seems like it will prove terrible things about me. But I really do think I can SAY ANYTHING to God. That God can take it.

Yes, God can take it, another part of me says, but can I?  

Where to go when you have got nothing? When you are at the bottom of the barrel and are looking for some spiritual connection?

Here are some authors, books, and podcasts for tough times, or places to start if you are looking to grow your spiritual connection.

1. Anne Lamott

Any list like this should probably begin with Anne Lamott. While decidedly Christian in orientation, Anne Lamott writes about spirituality from a place of deep imperfection, humility, and humor. Her writings on self-loathing and loathing of others, of working toward justice in this world, while being driven to despair by institutional racism, sexism, and wealth inequality, are words that many of us can relate to only too well.

Some of Anne Lamott’s best-loved books include Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Grace, and her latest, Hallelujah, Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

 2. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton’s writing comes from a Christian perspective, though as a recovering bulimic and alcoholic, who just recently married a woman (soccer star Abby Wambach), she is likely nothing like what you’ve come to expect from people who call themselves Christian. She writes about her spiritual journey with candor, openness, and humor in a way that makes me feel like I know her and that she is someone I could really be honest with. See more about Carry On, Warrior or check out her latest, Love Warrior

Glennon Doyle Melton posts writing and videos on her blog, Momastery.

3. Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a tattooed, recovering alcoholic Lutheran minister of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She talks about her own mistakes and her own struggles to be in community with the true community -- everyone, meaning the people she loves and the people she doesn’t. She writes about this in her book of essays Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People

You can check out Nadia Bolz-Weber's sermons or learn more about House for All Sinners and Saints on her website

I was introduced to her work on Krista Tippett’s amazing podcast On Being. You can listen to Tippett's interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber here.

4. On Being

Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being has been a remarkable resource looking at spiritual connection, modern life, and what it means to be human. Her program includes scientists, theologians, artists, musicians, poets.  Some amazing episodes include interviews about:

Outlandish Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Weber, leader of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Co.

Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk’s work on trauma. 

Black Lives Matter co-founder and artist Patrice Cullors and physician and philanthropist Dr. Robert Ross on the spiritual foundations of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Joy Ladin’s experience of being transgender within the Orthodox Jewish community.

 Writer Eula Biss addresses issues of whiteness.

Harvard Professor of Psychology Ellen Langer on the practice and benefits of mindfulness. 

 Neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda, on generational trauma.

5. Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa

This classic of modern buddhism by the founder of the Shambhala school of Buddhism, which is primarily a secular Buddhist practice, cuts against the idea that spiritual practice is one of “self-improvement” and takes the attitude that spiritual practice is “good” on its own, without having any other aim. Read more about it here.

To see more about Shambhala, the secular Buddhist practice Chogyam Trungpa established, click here.

Ok. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do, and prayer. And a nap. And a snack. I’m going to be ok. We’re going to get through this. Wow. Marriage is a trip, you guys. Ouch. I need to take better care of myself.

I need God. Obviously. I need God.