To the Person Questioning Everything They Believe

To the person questioning everything you believe:

I know how scary life might seem right now.

I don’t know what’s led you to this moment of doubting it all, or what exactly “it all” is for you. Maybe “it all” is the idea of God you’ve had since childhood. Maybe it’s the set of beliefs you’ve built your life and faith around. Maybe it’s your understanding of who you are and what your purpose is in this world.

It doesn’t matter what started your questioning. It might have been something small that caused a crack to form in the foundation of your worldview. Or perhaps it was a catastrophic event that left you trying to piece your faith back together from the rubble in the aftermath.

Whatever the questions or whatever the cause, you need to know this:

You are okay.

You are allowed to ask the hard questions.

You are not alone.

In my experience as a formerly very religious person, it seemed as if there were “normal” doubts and questions to have, and then there were those questions. Those questions crossed a line. They were too taboo to openly talk about. They threatened to label you a heretic.

If you are reading this, I’m guessing the kinds of questions you’re asking are those kinds. You may not feel like you have a safe space to ask them, or you may feel immense shame for even wanting to ask them at all. When you’re asking these kinds of questions, it’s easy to find yourself wondering, “What is wrong with me?”

I don’t have to know the exact thoughts you’re wrestling with to know a few things about who you are. You’re not a heretic, nor is there anything wrong with you. You are brave for asking questions outside the norm. You’re reasonable for engaging in critical thinking. You are practicing open-mindedness by considering if there are other viewpoints. You’re growing as a person and not staying stagnant.

Whether you’ve only just anxiously acknowledged the doubts mounting inside you or you’ve shouted your questions out loud for all to hear, I admire you for letting that inner voice speak–even if right now it’s only to yourself.

When I began rethinking it all in 2017 and listening to my inner voice of truth, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either run back into the comfort of familiarity (therefore choosing a life of inauthenticity), or I could step forward into the unknown and choose to be true to myself. Either way, the choice would cost me something. But the cost of choosing to live a lie was just too high.

Our beliefs don’t just tell us where we’ll go after we die; for many, our beliefs are woven deeply into our identities and are what give our lives meaning. Tweaking your theology is one thing, but rethinking ideas that inform who you are at your core and why you’re here? That’s no easy task. Hear me:

You have every right to feel whatever difficult emotions come up in this process.

I know it might feel like you’re playing with fire. It doesn’t feel safe or familiar at all to open yourself to new perspectives and own up to the reality that there might be flaws in your ideologies. It’s freaking scary territory when the ground no longer feels stable to stand on, especially when you’re the only one you know asking if the ground beneath you is splitting apart.

You may feel alone right now, but I can promise you that you are not. When I first began rethinking everything I believed, I had never heard of someone going through what I was. Isolated from my community of faith, I had no one to process my questions with. That is, until I started knocking on the right doors around the internet. Since then, I’ve pieced together a list of resources and began building a new community of spiritual misfits and religious outcasts traveling on the same road. You’re not alone on this journey.

To the person questioning everything you believe, I’m here in your corner. You have nothing to feel ashamed of because what you are going through is as normal to the human experience as breathing. Nothing may feel safe or certain anymore, but I believe that is where real freedom starts.

You are okay. You are allowed to ask the tough questions. You are not alone.

You have a safe place to question everything here, because questioning everything in pursuit of authenticity is the very reason why this place exists.

to the person questioning everything they believe

1 thought on “To the Person Questioning Everything They Believe”

  1. Hi Sara! Really enjoyed this blog! You are a really great writer! Gave me lots to think about! :))

    So, you said you’ve decided to live a life outside of Christianity in pursuit of an “authentic” you; that is, this someone who asks and struggles to answer some hard hitting questions about who you “really” are, who you really should be. So, my question is about what might this “authenticity” look like, what it might feel like, this very thing at the heart of your struggle. I suspect, it is the struggle itself. Feeling of self-doubts, of uncertainty, of fear, and feeling even of trauma – maybe, just maybe, those very feelings “are” who we ultimately are, the authentic “us”, in its purest form.

    You’ve majored in psychology. So let’s use insights from that. Let’s imagine a baby girl in its earliest development of self-consciousness. It has no self-consciousness to speak of. So it doesn’t really struggle with self-doubts and trauma either. But imagine this baby girl turning 4-5 years of age when it begins to feel something is amiss. When she looks herself in a mirror, she sees herself, of course, but she also begins to wonder what “the others” see in her “image”, just there, reflecting straight back at her.

    This image is most “troubling” to the girl and shakes her whatever feelings she might have had about who she is to the very core. For she’s been told all along that she’s beautiful, she’s very precious, and been even told that she’s out of this world. Yet, this image, this strange “me”, not at all pretty and made obviously of pure flesh and blood. Nothing “out of this world” about it at all! So she wonders: have people around me told all these nice things to this “Imaginary” me because they really meant it or did they say those things simply to please my “Real” me, this “feeling” of mine that is lying deep, deep behind and beyond this image, my “Ego”. The long journey of self-doubt, uncertainty, and fear thus begins.

    But, as much as those troubling feelings are as “real” and as “true” to the girl as they can be, the girl struggles to come to terms with the distance between this Imaginary and the Real me/girl. The distance between what the people around the girl think and say she is and what the girl knows to be her Real self seems to grow and grow, year on year. It is uncomfortable; it is unsettling. Oft observed “teenage rebellion” is always just around the corner, hiding, just waiting for a trigger to be unleashed.

    But she doesn’t want to be a rebel, letting her feelings go completely wild. More and more, the girl instead wants to understand this indescribable feelings of self-doubt, of fear and even of trauma. It is simply too much to lock them up hidden inside her. So she writes and writes and writes. Mind journals and self journals mount and mount. Yet, words, sounds, and imagery – or the “symbolic” – are all she’s got to express those feelings that are, by definition, strictly not physically observable things like words and images. They are instead “subjective” feelings. There appears to be simply no end for the feelings of fear and insecurity to stop. But she’s determined. She commit herself to come to terms with these feelings and make the best of it. She shares with others the sense of enormous struggle she went through, she is on right now – her “adulting” has begun, in earnest.

    So, what is our “authentic” self, the “Real” me, you, and every one of us? I would say it’s the never-ending attempts at bridging the unbridgeable distance between the “Imaginary”, the “Real” and the “Symbolic”. It is the impossible condition that prevents “me” to be myself.

    But, this impossible condition could also be considered the very condition of possibility of subjective feelings themselves, something that is truly and universally sharable among the entirety of the world population. Something which has the potential to bring us all together and closer, for the dream of a happier and a brighter future for those religious and non-religious, for those in health and in sickness, and for those who are rich or poor.

    Amen! 😀

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