As part of the Vennly team’s search to better understand how people express their spirituality, we found ourselves facing some interesting questions. We started to wonder about the impacts of feeling spiritually engaged, but not expressing it by identifying with organized religion. Personally, I started to think more about what it meant to identify as spiritual but not religious (SBNR).
I wondered if I was missing out. Was I missing out on opportunities to volunteer? To give back and be a better ally for those who need support? Was I cutting myself off from the support and wisdom of leaders in my community? Would I be better equipped to face life’s challenges with a greater sense of community behind me?
I didn’t know for sure, but at a minimum it seemed like my friends who are also SBNR didn’t know where to turn when facing big questions or challenges in life. Sure, there’s family and friends, and that super inspirational instructor from spin class always had an encouraging word…but something felt missing.
I dug into proprietary research Vennly conducted to better understand how people seek guidance and support along religious and spiritual lines. Our research backed up what I was hearing from friends and family, that us SBNRs have less access to support. We found that less than 28% of SBNRs feel that it’s easy to find support and guidance when facing big life decisions, compared to nearly 40% of religious people.
Our research also found that people that identify as either religious, or spiritual and religious, are nearly 60% more likely to have a personal relationship with a religious or spiritual leader – including life coaches, yoga instructors, and the like – than people who identify as SBNR. Overall, the research seems to indicate that it’s harder for SBNR people to find meaningful spiritual support and guidance than it is for their religious peers.
For me, the beauty of being SBNR was that I could choose my own adventure, spiritually. It was like the RL Stine books I grew up on – instead of one, strict path, I could explore and try different ones. Dope, right? I could draw on elements of Taoism and Judaism one day, then Humanism and Islam the next. But as I grew older, and the challenges that I faced in life grew as well, that “something missing” kept creeping up. Choosing my own adventure didn’t help me cope with losing my mom to a tough battle with cancer just after my 27th birthday. It didn’t help me resolve conflicts between once-inseparable friends. And it didn’t help me find purpose in my career.
So the findings of our research jived with how I felt personally. But as I reviewed the data that confirmed my feelings, I was a little down. Even if there was something missing for us SBNRs, there had to be a way to fill that void. There had to be a way to ensure that I was as spiritually healthy as possible while still doing it in a way that’s authentic to me.
This is a big reason why we’re building Vennly. To help fill that gap and create a platform that can help provide some of the support, guidance, and wisdom that at times can feel missing. To ensure there’s a safe, inclusive space for people to turn to when seeking perspective on their challenges, big and small. And to provide that experience wherever you are, whenever you need it. There’s still work ahead to make this goal a reality, but we at Vennly are determined to make it happen. And we couldn’t be more grateful for your support along this journey.