The Search for Spiritual Identity in Adolescents

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The Search for Spiritual Identity in Adolescents and Young Adults

Minister Ejane Ellis

For

Dr. Gloria Thomas

Spring Arbor University

Master of Arts in Family Studies
Detroit 07
November 6, 2012

Life is a journey from birth to death. It’s a puzzle with us trying to find the right fit, size and shape where the pieces will fit to make us whole. So we begin by growing, and developing, and learning and moving, and thinking and tasting, and touching and testing, and hugging and loving! We go through different stages of growth and growing, and learning and maturing and changing and aging and ultimately death. This writer believes we are searching for our spiritual identity. The NIV Bible says that the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. Man’s spiritual identity comes from God!

Jesus was about twelve years old according to the NIV Bible when he began his quest for spiritual identity. Luke 2:49 reads: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" After a female egg becomes fertilized by a male sperm it becomes a zygote. This living organism is a product of each parent’s chromosomes. This zygote begins a two week period of rapid cell division which eventually becomes an embryo. Eventually, this embryo will become a living being which was produced and created by its two parents. This child’s physical identity comes from his parents!

I use the term parent’s very loosely because I am aware that his identity comes from his bloodline or his genes. I am making a point.
By far the most provocative theory of identity development is Erik Erikson’s. It was Erikson who first understood how central questions about identity are to understanding adolescent development. Erikson’s fifth developmental stage (identity versus identity confusion) says during this time adolescents (between the ages of eleven to young adult hood) are faced with who they are, what they are all about and where they are going. Erikson framed the best of maturity in the ego identity of what he called the moral-ethical, spiritual human. This human is one with a horizontal, earthly identity and a vertical, transcendent identity, meaning an identity both religious and spiritual that embraces non-physical manifestation.

As adolescents search for their spiritual identity researchers have found that various aspects of religion are linked to positive outcomes in adolescents. Religion has been proven to play a role in adolescent’s health and whether or not they engage in problem behaviors (Cotton & others, 2006). For example, in a recent national random sample of 2000 11-18 year olds, those who were higher in religiosity were less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use marijuana, not be truant in school, not engage in delinquent behavior and not be depressed as compared to their counterparts with lower religiosity (Sinha, Cnaan, & Gelles, 2006). The initiator of the Baha”i movement, Baha””u “llah in 1863 believed that there were seven mystical stages to human development and he believed as does most Muslims today that human development is closely linked to religious development. He referred to those stages as “The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys”. They are: * The Valley of Search

* The Valley of Love
* The Valley of Knowledge
* The Valley of Unity
* The Valley of Contentment
* The Valley of Wonderment
* The Valley of the True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness He believed that one has not truly developed unless he has entered in or experienced each of these stages.
During my years of adolescence I was considered somewhat of a spoiled child. My mother sent me to a modeling school to become a trained runway model. By the time I was 13 I have performed in more than 100 different fashion shows in and around Michigan, Illinois and New York. Needless to say my environment consisted...
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