Monday, May 21, 2012

How is Faith Real

            I want to clarify a bit on last week’s post before I segue way into this week’s topic, which is related anyway. When I discussed people changing for the people they are with, I meant on a personal level. I understand that you are not going to act at work the way you do at home. This is a given and it is probably a good thing. A lot of people would probably get fired if they talked to their boss the way they do their spouse. You can be honest.
            I have known people who it is a question of who they really are. I tell my friends that I want them to be honest with me, to be who they are, and I have had friends admit that it is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve spent most of your life feeling like you have to change because the real you is just not good enough. It is a tricky thing, I admit, when there is a past history. But the thing is that when you are an adult, we all have to learn how to work through those things at some point or another. It’s just like when we have to learn to think past our initial reactions to someone different from us. It’s not easy, I recognize that, but whoever said anything about being human was easy, especially when you throw religion into the mix.
            This is not especially kind on my part, but I’ve always thought that a lot of the people I grew up around were Christian just because that was what everyone else was. It was just what was expected and what you did. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t people I grew up around who honestly believe because of how they feel, but is that the only validation of faith, how you feel? I don’t know. How do we know that where we put our beliefs is right? What makes it real to us? And does it really matter in the grand scheme of life that we ask questions and dig deeper? Some people go their entire lives without questioning their faith, without discussing it, and they seem perfectly happy. At one point, I frowned at people like that, but now, I look at them and think that not everyone can be so inquisitive. It’s not a bad thing. I believe that where you go in the afterlife is determined by the kind of person you were, not what god you believed in or how deep you dug in your  examination of your faith.
            Are we just on this earth to determine our afterlife? There is no one reason why we are here, and I think a lot of people would agree with me, regardless of faith, that our creator is a vast entity, bigger than we can comprehend and their reasons may be more than we will ever understand, even in death.
            So, to cut to the chase, it is a bad assumption but I do think I know of at least a handful of people who just identify as Christian because everyone else does and they do not know any other way. Fine, there’s nothing wrong with that I suppose because you cannot tell that person they need to dig deeper. That’s for them to decide and if they are content with life, given how short it can be, who is anyone to tell them they are wrong. Now, throw alternative religions into this mix. Yeah, you saw this coming didn’t you? I don’t disappoint.
            I know people who left Christianity because either they did not like what was being said or they just didn’t feel like it was the path for them. There are more reasons, but for the sake of time and simplicity and because I don’t want a headache either, let’s not go there. Of course, I say that and what is coming next is more reasons why people jump ship, but this relates to the blog topic, so we’re both just going to have to suck it up. One of the things that a lot of Pagans in particular are aware of is the fact that some people identify as Pagan just out of plain rebellion against established customs or because they are following a trend set. Yes, some people think of Paganism as a trend. An entire book could probably be written on the subject, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that there are cases like that out there, and some Pagans are ever on guard against them. Then there are people like me who really won’t say much on the subject, until now that is.
            As I said last week, for me it comes down to motive and in all honesty, the only one who can know your motives, in most cases, is you. The rest of us can only speculate and then we should go back to that judge none thing we need to live by. Even so, and here I’m going to go strictly opinion, faith is such a precious and individual thing that it should not be altered to meet superficial needs. If you were born into a certain faith and do not feel the need to question and just want to go with the flow, that is fine. But if you change just to meet others’ requirements, and this applies to everyone, that is when I feel that you have crossed a line. Be honest with yourself and be not ashamed of who you really are. And if you have to spend a few years searching for what is your truth, so be it. It’s a scary thing, to be without a path, but if that’s what it takes, then it is really for the best.
            One final thought to leave you with this week. I think people change themselves and deny their true natures to fit in for many reasons. People change because they want to, because it is who they want to be, and that is absolutely positively fine. It’s a fine line, between the two, and the only way to know which side you’re on is to be honest with yourself, and even then it can get cloudy. However, here is a truth I believe in that I want to share. It is simply that you are never alone. Whether in friends or in a higher power, there is always someone there. If nothing else, let that be the thought that comforts you on long, doubt filled nights.

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