Ready for some testing?
Everyone has beliefs. Everyone believes something. Our beliefs inform our daily living…how we live and how we act, and how we view who we are and the world we live in. This all contributes to forming what is referred to as our worldview.
Our worldview is shaped by things we believe to be true. Believing (also called faith) contributes to the very fabric of who we are. Beliefs attract related beliefs. Overarching beliefs attract many smaller beliefs that play out in daily life.
All of our thoughts, words, and actions of everyday find their source in what we believe.
Sometimes it’s suggested that we keep our beliefs to ourselves or at home. But this is not possible. The very fabric of who we are (including our beliefs), goes with us. If someone says ‘you should keep your beliefs to yourself or at home’, they’ve just proven they don’t live out their own belief by attempting to impose what they believe on you and wanting you to abide by it. Their action conflicts with their own statement of belief. Inconsistency results and further reflection is needed.
Besides, and maybe more importantly, would you want me to show up as ‘less than’ who I am? Would you want me to show up as partially real — as only part of me? No. I don’t think it’s even possible. And this would be letting you and me down. It would be inconsistent, likened to lying about who we are. And I wouldn’t want you to show up less than who you fully are either — beliefs and all.
You see, everyone has beliefs. They go everywhere with us and shape our daily living; they contribute to the very fabric of who we are. Our beliefs show up when we do.
Another interesting thing with beliefs… maybe you’ve noticed this. People will claim things like ‘being inclusive’. By that, they mean “inclusive” until bumping up against others who don’t agree with them. All of a sudden, backs go up, opinions are launched, and people are excluded. We must ponder, are we inclusively inclusive or exclusively inclusive? Do we really include all or not? Maintaining a stance and belief claim of ‘inclusivity’ must be clear. Again, there seems to be conflict with stated beliefs and a living out those beliefs.
And we are all guilty of wrestling with living out what we say we believe. It’s not always easy. Our beliefs may be challenged. It takes regular check-ins with ourselves, and with those who know us.
Beliefs must not be just stated, but embraced, lived out, and a grounding for us. Not only for how we live, but for how we ought to live. And if we fail, how does our belief system deal with failure?
It’s wise then to test what we believe… to test the source, the validity, and the truth…and even the grace… of what we believe.
What informs my beliefs? How do my beliefs show up everyday? Is there grace?
And after some testing, it’s always wise to further evaluate if we ourselves live consistently into and out of what believe…and what we say we believe.
Here are numerous questions that might be helpful to test and evaluate your beliefs.
Where do the things I believe come from?
What makes them true? Are they true?
Who says so?
Is it just me claiming a truth or do others say it’s true…and for how long…months? Years? Decades? Centuries? Millenia?
What is the evidence?
Do the things I observe around me substantiate what I believe?
Are the things I believe tested or ‘just accepted’? How do they stand up to testing?
How have previous generations viewed what I believe?
Does what I believe accurately answer questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny?
How does what I believe shape my identity? How does what I believe shape others?
Who am I? Who do others say I am?
What do my beliefs say about who I am? And who I becoming? Where do I belong?
What do others around me believe? What and where are the conflicts with what others believe?
How do their beliefs impact their life? Am I missing something? Am I wrong somewhere?
What’s my purpose? Why am I here? Why are we here?
Is there greater purpose?
How did this world and this universe come about? Where did we come from?
What do my beliefs say about how to conduct myself? And how are we to conduct life together, as family, community, or society?
Are my beliefs consistent with how I live?
Where and how does justice, mercy, and grace fit in?
How do my beliefs inform me about the difficult things in life like pain, shame, guilt, suffering, and evil? And how do I deal with these things as a result of what I believe?
How does love, beauty, joy, peace, and forgiveness fit into what I believe?
In the bigger picture, where are we all headed? Is there a bigger story? If so, what is it?
What happens when I die?
Does what I believe give me hope? Comfort? In life…and death?
What hope do I experience now?
Who can I talk with if I’m wrestling with what I believe?
When you’ve tested and evaluated what you believe and why, your confidence strengthens. When you meet others who may disagree, you will stand firmly on your well-assessed beliefs and be open to potential blind spots.
But remember, we all have beliefs and they go everywhere with us. They deeply shape the very fabric of who we are. If someone tells you differently, engage with them; they are living out their beliefs and may not realize it.
And knowing how much beliefs inform and shape us, be sure to ask some questions and test what you believe together. If what you believe doesn’t hold up under testing, maybe it’s time to dig deeper and seek out beliefs which do.