Exploring other beliefs can be helpful


“The mind is like a parachute—it only works when it’s open.” —Lily Tomlin

 

How many times have you had it all figured out and then realized you didn’t? Instead of having everything spelled out for us from the get-go, we sometimes have to learn it the hard way, or at least the slow way.

It’s the reason movies like “Big” and “17 Again” are made. “If I had only known then what I know now….” we would have done things differently. Who wouldn’t!

But it doesn’t work that way. We all have people and experiences that move in and out of our lives leaving new tidbits of knowledge. It’s the processing of getting older, maturing.

The truest things I’ve learned have come from being tested against my will. I don’t particularly like being blindsided, but when the dust settles, in some way, I come out with a new clue.

When I got married I thought I knew everything about marriage. Turns out, I knew everything a 20-year-old could know about marriage. (That’s not much).

After I had my first baby and made my way through the infant stage, I started feeling comfortable. On the good days, I thought I knew everything about raising the kid. I’ve since realized that I only know what I’ve been through—and that leaves everything that’s going to happen a complete mystery to me. (That’s a lot.)

But all the challenges didn’t steer me away from my initial beliefs. I still know what it means to be a wife and I know what it means to be a mom. The details find their way in and the most challenging parts help create a more “whole” person.

Knowing this much is true got me thinking about books, which I’m lucky to think a lot about as part of a book club, and how avoiding certain subjects does more harm than good.

Spiritual books are a popular genre that’s gone more mainstream. This includes a big spectrum of subjects, from traditional Christian themes to the new-age Oprah stuff.

So, with all of the controversy surrounding certain books, am I better off passing over the ones that are labeled “non-Christian” or stuffing them into my bag alongside my Karen Kingsbury’s?

Can a novel about wizards turn me off of Christianity? How about a memoir by a woman who searched for peace by chanting at an Indian ashram? Or a love story with a vampire hero?

I’ve read “Harry Potter,” “Left Behind,” “The Shack,” “Eat Pray Love” and “Twilight.” They are all controversial, depending on who’s talking. I liked them all. So I have to say that, no, they didn’t convert me or confuse me. And not a single one corrupted my thinking—but they all caused it.

Exploring other beliefs and views is more helpful than avoiding them. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can still respect them.

That goes for both faith and knowledge. They’re meant to be tested. Being proactive in challenging your beliefs is how discussions start and knowledge, confidence—and faith—grow.


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