photo of Amy Julia's three teenagers sitting on a stone wall with their arms around each other and looking away from the camera out at the ocean in front of them

Using Our Spiritual Imaginations to Envision a Good and Possible Future

I get overwhelmed easily when I think about the future, especially as Penny is about to turn 18. We need to make decisions with her about guardianship and transition planning and housing and employment. I also get overwhelmed when I think about all the institutional change I would like to see and how impossible it seems.

That’s where the spiritual imagination comes in. I don’t mean imagining fantasy worlds. I mean envisioning a good future within both the constraints and possibilities God gives us. But how do we use our spiritual imaginations to envision a good and possible future? 

  1. Together with other people of faith.
    Pray together, envision together, ask for the Spirit of God to direct your imaginations. 

  2. Use Scripture as a guide.
    When it comes to imagining a different world for people with disabilities, use a story like Luke 14, where Jesus describes the kingdom of God as a place where disabled people come to the table first and there is still room for everyone else. Read this story and ask: What would that actually look like in our context today? Who would that include? Who are the people who we would be compelling to come in? And can we imagine that?

  3. Once you have a vision for the future, notice resistance to that future.
    What are the reasons you say, “Well, that could never happen”? Then ask, “What if we pushed past that resistance with our imagination? What if we brought 1 Corinthians 13 in and we believed that love was actually strong enough to always persevere and always hope and always trust?” 

  4. Look for current and literal images to help your imagination.
    Look for the real, lived experiences of people who are a little bit ahead of you in time or experience, whether that’s an individual, a family, or a whole community that, however many years ago, started doing X, Y, or Z. Ask yourself, “Okay, could we imagine that? 

I still get scared about our future. But coming back to prayer, Scripture, and the lived experiences of people who are a few steps ahead of us helps me use my spiritual imagination to move forward with hope for a good future.

More with Amy Julia:

Using the Spiritual Imagination as a Vehicle for Hope
Reshaping Our Cultural Imagination
COGNOSCENTI | The future I imagine for my daughter

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