Today I received a letter from a young woman needing some advice. (She will remain anonymous, but you need to know I receive letters like this almost every day.) She had decided that she was no longer a believer but an agnostic. She’s getting a lot of resistance from her family and friends. Some of them are saying she is now going to Hell and needs to turn back around. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know if she was doing the right thing, or if she was, if she was doing it right, and if she was doing the right thing and doing it right, how to handle those who are worried about her. This is a letter I wrote her:
First of all, thanks for taking the risk and writing to me. That takes a lot of guts and most people don’t do it. So… good for you. It shows that you are serious about your journey and want to do it well.
Secondly, you have to be honest with yourself. You can’t be forced to believe something you don’t believe. You have to be true to YOU! No one else. You’ve taken a very courageous step and I applaud you for that. The step isn’t necessarily into a certain belief or not, but the step into being able to choose what you want to believe or not. Everyone has that choice. Most don’t take advantage of it. You have. Don’t back down. You have the right to believe or disbelieve what you want. You have the right to question. You have the right to doubt. Again… everyone has that right, but few people use it. Stand up for your own rights, as you already are.
Thirdly, once you make this choice to believe or disbelieve for yourself, then you have also automatically made the decision to allow people to be challenged by you. You have learned that when you separate yourself from the herd, you are going to upset other people and they will do everything in their power to get you to return. This is life and everyone’s life challenge. It starts as children in the playground, and it will stay with you for the rest of your life. You can’t have both your right to believe for yourself as well as everyone happy with you. It’s either spiritual independence or compliance. You’ve made the right choice because it is for yourself!
So, having said all that, this is what I do. I make sure I am confident in my own right to believe or not, to doubt, to question and to take my own stand apart from others. Then I be as nice, polite, patient, gentle, kind and wise to others as possible. I avoid arguments but invite discussions. If something looks too challenging or beyond what I’m capable of answering, I simply say something like, “You know, I really don’t think I can talk about that right now. No disrespect. I love you. But I’m not clear enough to say anything about that.” Or, “I love you. I know you love me. I just need some space right now. Don’t worry about me. I’m doing fine. Really. I just need to find out for myself. Okay?” Or, “I am just going through a time of searching right now. I need to find my own answers. Thanks for caring though.” Something like that.
I hope that helps. Maintain courage! Stand your ground. You’re destined for some great discoveries. Just wait and see!
Maybe this applies to you. Be spiritually independent! Maybe you know someone this could help. Share it. Send it on. Email it. Help others become spiritually independent!
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