I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I like playing on the edge of things: Riverbanks, mountain ledges, religious convention, the patience of others….But one place I enjoy the most is the edge of my own beliefs.
Flirting with the edge is exactly what got Project Conversion and my subsequent 180-degree transformation started in the first place. Once upon a time, I wanted religion in all its shapes, sizes, forms, and colors–along with its people–burnt to ashes. Now, well it’s complicated, but I no longer want to BBQ the faithful.
I like thinking about what makes my convictions stick. Why do I think/believe that? Has anything changed or come into my life to challenge those beliefs? If something has, and I’ve shunned it, why did I turn away?
Think of it as a spiritual self-analysis. If practiced correctly, you’ll discover just what your beliefs are made of.
One of my favorite daily challenges for myself is asking each morning,
“Is this it? Is there more to life than this? Is there a God(s), or an afterlife, etc.? If so, why do I believe that? Am I really meant for what I think I’m meant for?”
No I didn’t stutter. I do this–I doubt myself–every, single, day.
Why would someone of faith knowingly practice doubt every morning? Isn’t reason the enemy of faith? I mean, wouldn’t it be like a recovering alcoholic walking into a bar just to see if he can handle himself?
I can’t answer that, because your spiritual condition is unique, but I can say that like a good morning stretch or yoga routine, it’s extremely helpful.
“But Andrew, if you already believe that there is life after death, that there is a God(s), if you already believe that Tim Tebow is a prophet of Jesus, why question yourself? Doesn’t that mean you never really believed in the first place?”
First off, who said I believed in any of that?
What this practice does is stretches your faith, gets the blood flowing so that you not only believe it, but apply it in your daily life for the betterment of yourself and others. This is especially crucial for all you cradle believers out there, you know, the folks who’ve held the same beliefs you were raised in. In many cases you don’t even know why you believe, you simply do. Folks in this category hold the highest risk of taking their faith for granted and thus have a higher risk of growing stagnant (it’s a general statement. Not all are like this so don’t start crying if you aren’t one of them).
Of course the applications for this exercise far exceed the realm of faith. We should never hold a belief or position on something “just because.” Wrestle with your convictions, perform maintenance on them, test if there are any leaks. Don’t over react if one day you find that your faith needs an upgrade, newer model, brand replacement, or even stop using it altogether. If it’s not working for you, if something no longer meshes just right, there’s probably a reason and I advise caution when pitting tradition again our natural intuition.
Socrates once said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Are you living life unexamined, unchallenged, unknown or misunderstood?
As for the answers to the daily questions…gotta earn those on your own, folks. Jai Vita!