“The greatest leaders teach you how to think not what to think”
I grew up in a very traditional, Christian home. We went to church several days a week, listened to prophets on T.V., and gave 10% of everything we made. I never challenged what I was taught and believed all of it to be true. I still do. However, when I was in my early twenties I began to ask myself- “What do I believe?”
So many people have a belief system that has never been challenged. We go to church every Sunday, don’t have sex before marriage, say our prayers, and give to the poor. All of those things are good but shouldn’t we know why and what we believe instead of just going through the motions of the faith we were taught by someone else?
I started challenging the assumption that everything I learned was true. My marriage was crumbling. I was a young mother. We had little to no money in our bank account. Pastors had affairs and people were mean and hateful to each other all while professing to love Jesus. Was God present? Did He care? I just couldn’t understand or wrap my brain around the contradictions. If I really believed, should I even be questioning what it is I say I believe?
These are the same questions I asked myself those many years ago:
- What do I believe?
- Why do I believe that?
- How do I connect with God?
- What keeps me distanced from God?
- What has my faith been based on?
- How do I grow in my faith?
- Does what this particular person say about faith and God resonate with me?
- Do I have to hate certain people because they believe and act differently from me?
- Must I stay away from a person because they believe different from me? Why?
- Am I open to the thoughts and feelings of others while still be able to hold close to my own personal beliefs?
- Am I following a certain set of rules because it feel comfortable?
- What pulls me away from the church?
- What draws me to church?
While my foundational beliefs have never changed for the negative they have matured. I have faith instead of religion. My questioning drew me closer to the source of my faith. I owned my faith instead of blindly following what I was told throughout my childhood. Instead of being afraid of people who were different from me I began to seek out conversations that helped me grow in my faith while loving others who saw things differently from me.
We all share a common need: to know that what happens in this life has purpose. To feel connected to something greater than ourselves. Life is chaotic, messy, and ever-changing. We crave stability. These questions will lead to more questions. It may feel uncomfortable. Stay where that feeling resides and work through it. Ask for support from someone who will listen. Write, paint, or walk. Whatever outlet helps you to process the tangled thoughts in your head.
“Through thick and thin, keep you hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.” 1 Peter 3:15
How can you give an answer to someone else if you don’t first know what your answer is?