Rethinking Our Faith and Beliefs
Each January, I enjoy selecting a word for the year. I have chosen words that encourage, inspire, or challenge me. This year’s word fits in the category of challenging me. With the popularity of people rethinking their faith, I chose the word RETHINK. I wanted to delve deeply into the beliefs that have influenced my life, guided my choices, and hindered my capacity to forge enduring bonds of love with those around me. By rethinking our faith and beliefs, we can mature and grow in our relationships.
I had to swallow my pride and admit that my existing ideas might not be as solid as I had thought they were before I took on this task. What if, even more worrisomely, my faith and convictions were precisely what gave me pride in my life? To sort through more than fifty years’ worth of lessons and indoctrination, a precise procedure and plan were required.
I have a strong passion for using words creatively as a writer. I like acrostics, alliterations, and learning new words to expand my vocabulary. I came up with an acrostic for the word “RETHINK.” These words provide a path to consider when digging into our faith or beliefs.
RETHINK Our Faith and Beliefs:
Deep reflection on how our existing beliefs affect how we see ourselves and those around us is part of the first step. Do these views make it more difficult to go through life, communicate with others around us, refrain from passing judgment on others, or respect their faith and beliefs?
We must be prepared to tear down the barriers we’ve built between us and individuals who have different opinions if we want to reexamine our convictions. We can learn so much by having honest and open conversations. We can see their humanity andzeal for their ideas, and we are aware that their beliefs make it difficult for them to interact with us as well.
Examining how different ideas affect our lives is the next step we may take to reconsider our beliefs. What effects would a belief’s removal or modification have on the way we currently make decisions? Would it relieve us of guilt or pressure? Would it enable us to love and accept others more fully than we do now?
After much reassessing, engaging, and testing of our beliefs, we can begin to refine or hone them. Are there beliefs that don’t matter? In other words, whether or not we believed it, they wouldn’t change anything about our life. Are there beliefs that, whether or not they are true, wouldn’t change the way we go about life?
We may start to delve thoroughly into the ideas we currently believe could have a substantial impact on our lives once we have eliminated the beliefs that have no real bearing on life. We can start to delve deeper into why people hold diverse beliefs. We can look for evidence to prove or disprove our beliefs.
Note the beliefs we have because we grew up in the country, community, or family we did. If we had lived anywhere else, would we still have the same beliefs we do today? We can note discrepancies in the teachings we received as a child and compare them to other teachings. We can look for scientific evidence that contradicts our beliefs.
Part of my faith teaching was that we had to “know that we know that we know.” It sounds like a safe place to be. If faith is trusting in something we can’t know for sure, it seems like an arrogant place to put ourselves. Part of rethinking involves knowing that we don’t know everything. It opens up a vulnerable place inside ourselves requiring humility and a willingness to admit wrong thinking.
Rethinking Our Faith and Beliefs is Not Easy
It is difficult to reconsider our religion and convictions. Many of us link our identity to our beliefs. What happens to us if our faith is found to be false? It requires bravery. Many people think that reevaluating theology results from a rebellious mindset. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a couple of different places rethinking our faith may come from.
Some come from the standpoint of pain or disillusionment. They have been hurt by their faith community or have watched leaders act in opposition to what they teach. Feelings of shame or condescension push them towards discovering answers about the things they’ve been taught.
Others enter a realm of rethinking their faith from a position of believing the pursuit won’t cause them to change their minds. Their faith is so strong, they feel they’re ready to put it to the test. This group can segue into two camps – those who only look for evidence to support their view and those who look for evidence to disprove their view.
Those who look for evidence to support their view will find it. However, are they looking to rethink their viewpoint or affirm it? For those who are willing to look for inconsistencies and various points of view, those will also be found in abundance. But, when they are found, are we willing to consider we may be wrong?
In my quest to rethink my faith this year, I have found that every issue can be proven and disproven. However, there are “factual” claims made that don’t stand up to further investigation. Ideas, thoughts, and opinions are just that. We are free to rethink and make up our minds and hopefully live a much richer, happier, and loving life because of it.