Article: A journey of questioning

Newry Cathedral News

A journey of questioning and challenging, building personal authenticity in religious belief

Listening to the radio recently I heard a phrase that resonated with me. The narrator stated ‘having belief feels like failure not having one feels like betrayal.’

I thought about this and how it captures the new modern world we find ourselves in. Many are raised, educated and taught within a Christian family setting, one where belief in religion was central to the family itself. This belief has been handed down from generation to generation, from generation to generation. An intergenerational belief, strong, vibrant and visual.

Now the younger generations (and sone of the older ones as well) find themselves adrift from this teaching. They are inundated with modern teachings, social media, adverts, and culture where religion is viewed as an old fad, out of touch, it is not chic and as such you shouldn’t express your beliefs in any fashion if you want to fit in.

How many out there are caught in this world where you want to fit in and be seen as one of the crowds but are challenged by the deep-set beliefs you were brought up with?  How many don’t want to be seen as a ‘failure’ because of their beliefs and at the same time don’t want to ‘betray’ their core beliefs, the foundations of their lives laid down many years ago?

Our beliefs are deep set, they invoke strong emotions and perceptions. To many our religious beliefs are deeply personal and vary greatly from individual to individual. They are our spiritual DNA, unique, different to anyone else in the world but at the same time linked through a chain of belief to Jesus.

We all will and have at times periods in our lives where we find ourselves challenging our beliefs. The very act of questioning our religious belief may create a short-term feeling of failure of uncertainty. It is only natural to feel a sense of loss or confusion when our beliefs that provide the very structure and meaning to our lives is called into question. This is a very unsettling process that leads to an inner questioning. However, the very fact of going through this process as a Christian and seeking our answers tour questions is a very therapeutic journey and leads to immense personal growth and self- discovery. 

This journey of questioning and challenging leads to building personal authenticity in your belief. It is crucial that we honour and respect our personal journey of belief and not blindly follow the crowd to a position of general acceptance and blandness. It is not a failure to continually re-evaluate your beliefs, it builds strength and security of character. Being true to yourself and living your life of authenticity will involve periods of reflection and exploration. The very core of our Christian belief is founded on reflection helping the believer to form a true sense of personal integrity and alignment with true Christian values at the core.

Emotions are also at the heart of our very being and it is no different when dealing with our beliefs. Emotions surrounding our beliefs can be complex and multifaceted. Emotions sit at the heart of our every day lives and it’s possible to experience a mix of emotions, including doubt, guilt, liberation, or even relief in respect of our religious belief. Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, and it’s okay to have conflicting or evolving feelings as you navigate your beliefs. Belief and life are intertwined and cannot be separated.

Having a strong ever evolving belief helps provide us with a sense of purpose, meaning, and community. It’s important to recognize that meaning and purpose can be found in various ways, whether through personal values, relationships, interests, or through our individual contributions to society. Our beliefs help us all to lead a more fulfilling and purposeful life without full of meaning, purpose and Christian vision.

Ultimately, the path of religious belief for all is a deeply personal one. There is no single right or wrong way to have, hold, share or express your belief. It’s important to be compassionate with yourself and others as you navigate these complex emotions and find what resonates with you personally. Seeking support from trusted individuals or engaging in open and respectful discussions can help you navigate your pathway as a Christian, one who understands that having a belief should never be judged as failure.