Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Ask about someone's beliefs and you are asking about the core of who she is. It's no wonder that religion is one of the most emotionally charged and personal conversations in which you can engage. For that reason, I typically refrain from posting or even commenting on posts via social media about political issues with religious implications or religious debates stemming from politics. Though I don't publically have those discussions, I am often grieved by how this country is becoming increasingly divided on public issues because of private beliefs. The visceral reactions that radiate from the monitor of my computer screen send me through a range of emotions and lead me to ask, "Yes, but what if you're wrong?"

Like most of my friends, I grew up attending religious services. Over the years, I came to understand every moment like a well-rehearsed play. I knew that depending on how the keyboardist played certain notes to a certain tempo whether we were going to sing for two more minutes or twenty. I knew exactly which scriptures would accompany specific messages. I knew what responses the pastor was seeking as s/he ended the sermon and whether that sermon had two closings or four. Part of that ritual and knowing it so well led me to challenge what I was taught and that was terrifying because what I was taught is what I believed.

While it was jarring for me to challenge my beliefs, I am now stronger, freer, and living a fuller life than I imagined. Asking hard questions brought clarity and peace. I considered those living the lifestyle I strived for. I learned lessons from spiritual leaders outside of the sources I was presented. I listened to what was within and realized that spirituality is much larger than the boundaries of religion.

Challenge yourself. If you are willing to base your entire life, and in some cases, demand that others do the same, on a system of beliefs why not ask some hard questions? How do you feel about the way your life expresses your beliefs? Even more important, does your life express your beliefs? Do you fully comprehend your beliefs? Are they truly yours or those of your parents, grandparents, pastor, preacher, bishop, or priest? Finally, here's the toughest question: what if you are wrong? How would you feel about the love and compassion (or lack thereof) you demonstrated? How would you feel about the way you responded to others who don't believe as you do? Would you need to reconcile with anyone? Would your life still be filled with everything you value? Would your life still have meaning? What do you truly believe?

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