With Halloween just around the corner, it seems appropriate to talk about things that scare us. We usually think of ghost and goblins but we are looking at some emotional fears that affect important aspects of our lives. Today we are discussing how Faith can bring up fear.
Many people have different viewpoints on faith. Even people who agree on a common faith have different beliefs within their religion. Religion. Even that word can bring up different fears for people. Usually this fear creates withdraw or anger. In some way, they have been hurt or wounded by someone or something within a particular faith. Sadly we see this all the time as we help people work through their issues around Faith and God.
So what fears does it bring up for you? I'm going to address this thru the lens of Christianity, which is the most common Faith I work with and hear these questions being raised. I often hear the fears saying Will I be judged? Don't I have to be perfect to be a Christian? What if I mess up? Will people think I'm judgmental if I become a Christian?
These are all common questions and unfortunately fears that have been created by judgmental, less than perfect people of Faith. And the answer to all of this in a nutshell is this: Christianity is made up of imperfect people (like all groups are made up of) and sometimes they say and do things that are imperfect. And it hurts. But this doesn't mean the FAITH or dare I say the "religion" is bad. This truly exists in all religions. Everyone cannot follow every exact thing to perfection within a religion and they shouldn't be judged by it. Grace is for everyone. That's one thing I love about Christianity is it is built on grace- the grace Jesus gave when He died for the world's sins.
How do we overcome our fears of Faith?
1. Spend time with multiple types of people within a particular Faith. Different churches will see things different ways. Find one where you feel challenged to grow in your faith but not judged or condemned. We all need to grow and learn, and we need room and grace to do so.
2. Read the Bible to see how much God loved imperfect people. He was surrounded by the most imperfect and messy people of that time! They were His best friends. Yet they became loving, compassionate, bold people of Faith that would be martyred for their Faith because they were so strong in it!
3. Don't focus on the "rules" of your Faith and abiding by them to get your salvation or to not be punished. Focus on doing them to live a life that is pleasing to God (not men or women) and in turn it will bring you more joy and peace in your life. Think of it like a parental relationship. We don't tell our kids how to be safe because we will love them if they follow the rules. We don't give them boundaries to live by so they can belong to our family. We guide them on how to live and give them boundaries so they can grow to be healthy, safe, and hopefully happy! This is what our Faith does for us.
If you have found yourself in a place of fear when it comes to your Faith, we hope you will consider talking through it with someone you can trust. Our hope is to help people understand their wounds from their Faith to help them develop a healthy relationship with God.
Thank you for reading this week. Tomorrow Joleen will talk about fears in family.
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC LCAC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville