How do you distinguish what you believe from what you are told you believe?
I could tell you exactly how it all went down. If I really understood that. I don’t really claim to understand.
I am not even really sure I am completely sure where I stand on some aspects of it.
I was raised in really what you would classify a christian family. We went to church, sometimes. We were more like on again off again but always on holidays Christians.
So it came as a surprise to me when a friend of mine who happens to be Buddhist said that she was constantly having to either shield her kids or confirm their beliefs after a lot of really standard activities. Well what I considered standard. Even people, well meaning and good intention-ed people, just saying “we will pray for you” would throw her kids on how to respond to that. It had not even occurred to me to think about that.
It made me think of what we were doing as parents. Were we giving our daughter the choice, or were we just telling her how to believe. It was one of the reasons we left the Baptist church not the only reason but one of them.
I started looking at how I particularly believed. I have posted it before but I found Beliefnet.com’s Belief-o-matic very helpful. It broke it down into twenty questions that I could take one at a time and really reflect on how I felt.
Its also not one thing I took and then was done with. I often go back through and answer the questions without looking at or trying to think too closely about how I answered it last time. I get pretty much the same results. It has turned into a way to assure myself I am being true to who I am personally and not who others want me to be. That my thoughts are my own and not spoon fed to me.
It was one of the reasons the Unitarian Universalist Church appealed to us. The kids are not just taught about one way of thinking. They are encouraged to explore all paths and all religions. To not pass judgement on anyone’s way of thinking as wrong.
For some people they never question what they believe or how they believe. That is completely and totally okay. I am not saying that is wrong. In fact I did that for many many years. The world would like us to believe that we fit in nice neat little boxes. That if we classify ourselves as Christian, Buddhist, Muslim whatever that we all believe exactly the same things. When if you take the time to analyze it and read the texts and go over the history very rarely does that actually happen.
The more my eyes have been opened the more I realize how blind I was. It is astounding to me as I had always considered myself very open minded. So it appalled me to realize some of these things.
The longer I have been exploring how I believe the more I realize I will probably never stop adjusting exactly how I believe. The more I have explored the more my curiosity has been awakened. The more you explore the more you grow. So for me, I will keep exploring, I will keep asking myself the hard questions of how I believe ,making myself squirm in my seat if I have to. Not many people will go there. Will say I am going to keep exploring things that make me uncomfortable to find out exactly how I feel about it and why it makes me uncomfortable.