For many of us, honoring our gods in our respective faiths is something we’re very passionate about. Obviously we should be, otherwise why else would we be here?
But there are times when we have to take a step back and think to ourselves, “Are we getting a little too carried away? Is this becoming something that is ultimately unhealthy for me and possibly those around me?” Newbie convert syndrome is all too common, and the occasional minor mistakes and gaffes can be made. However there are moments when it’s clear that it’s become something that is over the top and must be rethought.
What sort of sanity checks are needed? Here are a few good ones:
- Do you find yourself preoccupied with how other people are doing things versus your own practice? Take a good look at your conversations and social media posts. How often do you spend ranting about what other people are doing, and whether or not they are “wrong”? If you find yourself a bit too concerned with other people, it’s time to take a step back and think about how you are honoring the gods in your daily practice, not others.
- Do you spend an awful lot of time arguing with other people online about what is “correct” versus not? Helping people new to the tradition is one thing, but standing up on a soapbox and berating total strangers for how you perceive their practices to be is another. It’s not important to be right all the time; what’s important is what you’re doing on your own to live a good life and be a good example to others as to what that means. Anything else is your own ego getting in the way of worship.
- Is your religion taking up a good chunk of your life, and are you finding yourself spending less time doing other things which you enjoy? Your faith is supposed to be an integral part of your life, not a replacement for it. You may also want to start reflecting on what you may be trying to escape from or compensate for. Being well-rounded is a good thing, not a bad thing, regardless of what your faith is.
- Do you find yourself shunning other people’s company now that you’re an active member of your faith? It’s one thing if your family and friends are not supportive, but if you’re actively excluding people from your life who don’t have the same spiritual beliefs you do, it’s time to rethink your attitude towards yourself and other people.
- Is your faith causing you to have a lot more stress and anxiety than usual? Are you worried about practicing things “wrong” or otherwise worried about “not getting it right” all the time? Is your worry taking up so much mental headspace that you’re finding it difficult to even actively practice your faith because of your concerns about its legitimacy? Ultimately, the gods aren’t that picky; humans are. If you approach them with sincerity that’s all that’s required, and doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
Healthy relationships with our religion need to happen as much as they need to happen with other people. After all, they impact your relationship with yourself, with the gods, and with the people in your inner and outer communities. Faith is supposed to be something that helps us grow as individuals and become better than who we are today, not as a contest of right versus wrong. Nothing should be so needlessly complicated as if it were some sort of new trials of Herakles for you to overcome in order to be “worthy” of the gods. That’s not how this works!
Worry less about what other people think, and be more concerned with your own mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Breathe. Honor the gods. Be happy.