(approx 4 min. read)
I am not a religious guy. Aside from brushing my teeth and thinking about my goals daily, I don't really do anything religiously. Spiritual-minded? Absolutely. But my approach and stance on all things spiritual has grown since I first was awakened.
In past years, I've openly shared my spiritual beliefs. At the time, I looked at it as a way of spreading "good" and potentially helping someone in spiritual need. However, eventually I found myself with an amazing pressure to explain myself (and/or deal with crippling guilt) whenever I did something contradictory to those beliefs, which was often. Hell, everyone mistakes. It's no secret. But I soon felt I had to be perfect if I was going to share holy stuff.
One reason I felt that way was because many people, knowingly or unknowingly, judge a person based solely on their beliefs. Wait...though that's true, the greater truth is I let the expectations get to me. Nevertheless, I've had folks (ones close to me too) question why I thought the way I thought and did some of the things I did if I claimed to be with a certain spiritual category. I began feeling scrutinized. I felt that it put me in a box. And 'baby don't like being put in the corner'. I didn't like the feeling.
I mean, when I did something outside of the "system", I knew it and I wasn't necessarily comfortable with it. Growing up, being a good kid with bad tendencies, I knew the difference between right and wrong. So what I really didn't like was the feeling I got when people (of similar beliefs) would mumble because of some of my missteps. And one way or another, the gossip would find its way back to me. I imagine it to feel like someone who had shart* during a college lecture: Uncomfortable, exposed, and embarrassed. Further worse, a week later hearing "Hey aren't you the one who sharted last week in Business Ethics?!"
Life began to happen and my beliefs began to evolve. With that, I began to change and some people weren't comfortable with that. I was no longer the guy shouting his beliefs from the mountaintops. And thank God I'm not that same guy anymore. That guy was naive and yet to have been battle-tested. I grew. That's the goal, right? It should be, if it's not, in my opinion. If you're not growing, you're dying. And if you're neither growing nor dying, you're stagnant, which to me is just as weak.
Everyone should have a certain set of beliefs to align themselves to and re-align to when life gets testy (and life always does). But everyone is absolutely different. Everyone has a unique background that shaped the way they see life. Telling them they should be seeing life how millions of others are seeing life otherwise they're not living right, to me, isn't right. And that's how I was made to feel. If I wasn't living up to the standard and fitting the mold projected onto me, I wasn't right. Smh. It took a lot of time, patience, and self-examination to recover what I had allowed to be taken from my self: -peace, -assurance, -worth, and -belief. It's important to note that I ALLOWED those pressures to bring me down. I allowed the whispers to rattle me. None of those things had the power to affect me until I GAVE them the power.
So when people ask me now what my beliefs are, it's simply none of their business. And not because I'm afraid of the scrutiny. I no longer give that power to anyone anyway. But because my spiritual beliefs are between me and God. My beliefs are what keep ME on the path that I choose to go down and are helping ME become the best version of myself. If a person wants to judge my being, they should learn my life, read my book & find out what I've been through, watch how I treat people, witness how I treat my body. At the least, follow me on social media to get the slightest idea of who I am. But they should kindly refrain from pegging me (or anyone) based on a single aspect of life.
Allowing anyone to put us in a box is unacceptable. And we shall no longer give anyone or anything the power to bring us down. Your personal beliefs are personal to you. If they're different from your friends or your parents, so what? It's okay. If those beliefs play a role in keeping YOU on the right path, helping you reach YOUR goals, and growing YOU into a better person everyday, do you, boo boo.
We are more.
*you really don't know what it means to "shart" though?