By Alecia Rice
Q: I was raised a Christian. I definitely don’t believe that way anymore but fear completely letting go. How do I move forward? —Un-Christian
A: Dear Un-Christian,
So many people have been in the same place. I know I have.
It can take a while to unravel oneself from long-held beliefs. The longer we’ve had them, potentially, the longer it takes to release them. In my personal experience, it’s a process.
Let me start by saying that I have great respect for Christianity. I also believe that everyone is entitled to believe what they believe. I’ve learned so many other things outside that; I believe things outside the realm of what most would call “Christian.” So, I dropped the label.
If raised on the more conservative side of the faith, it may take a while to come to grips with the conscious realization that it doesn’t fit anymore—especially with hell and all. The fear of going to hell or losing a social network often causes many to stay in the religion or take a lot longer to admit to themselves that they don’t believe anymore. Sometimes, the process takes many years…or even longer.
Be gentle with yourself during the unraveling of your beliefs. Many finer roots of a long-held belief system may take a while to release and heal. Pay more attention to what you’re consciously feeling inside for progress than you do to the fear of what others might think. Often, the most difficult of all is admitting out loud to someone else for the first time that you’re not a Christian—especially if they are Christian. I recommend finding a safe place to practice first. You can also practice a canned response should you be in receipt of a general rebuttal, (which often is wrapped in others’ fears).
If you haven’t gone to atheism, keep studying areas of faith that are interesting to you. You can edify yourself, learn more about what you now believe, (and what you don’t), and come to even more clarity on your journey.
We get to make our own choices as adults. We’re sovereign in our beliefs, which are ours alone. It’s not for anyone else to tell us what we should or shouldn’t believe.
Q: My estranged mother passed recently. I barely had a relationship with her, and when I did, she consistently took advantage, undermined me and verbally abused me. People keep telling me that I should be sad—when I’m not—and seem to be judging me for lack of emotion. How do I deal with them? —Not Mourning
A: Dear Not Mourning,
This comes down to labels and emotions. We’re quite entrenched and comfortable in our labels. It’s difficult for many to process when we don’t respond in the way that society expects us to. This is especially true with mother and child.
In relationships—no matter the label—if one of the parties abuses, neglects or takes advantage of the other, it undermines the relationship and the emotions that are typically expected. The label doesn’t automatically obligate us to stay in a relationship with toxic people, regardless of the label.
Emotions can be tricky. When we’ve had negative experiences with others, of course we’re going to have bad feelings. There’s no judgment on those feelings. They merely are. Our goal should be to try to work our inner world to find ways to heal and untangle the knots that these bad experiences often seed in us. If we don’t, the chaos inside hurts us more than it hurts them, not to mention the stress it puts our bodies through.
When someone transitions, who we’re “supposed to” have strong feelings for, and the relationship was never reconciled with good communication, truth, accountability, respect and love, it’s not unexpected that one might feel nothing—especially if the personal work has been done. One might even want to feel something, yet only anger comes. In that case, don’t judge. Merely see that the anger needs to be addressed and keep doing the work until you finally heal.
As for others, it’s none of their business what we feel, unless, of course, it’s damaging to ourselves or others. We can feel someone’s heart when they inquire or offer perspective. As suggested in the answer to this month’s first question, if we’re not interested in dealing with their response, it might be prudent to practice a balanced response ahead of time should someone blindside you with their opinion.
Alecia Rice is a Spiritual Alchemist and a personal advisor for those ready to unravel their issues with conscious choices. She offers grounded perspectives for energy management and sage insights in columns, videos, and podcasts. Visit www.AskAlecia.com for more information. Submit personal questions and quandaries to email@example.com.