Sometimes the religious beliefs we were taught as children no longer seem to provide the comfort and spiritual answers that we seek. We mistakenly believe that we have lost our faith.
But if you think about it, just as we grow up in stages – from an infant to a toddler or an adolescent to a young adult and beyond – we actually experience a similar and natural growth process in our faith. Our faith grows through stages as we age.
In the first stage as preschool children, we are developing our ideas about God. We take these ideas from our parents, the religious beliefs they may follow, and/or society.
As we grow up to become school-age children, we move into the second stage where we start to understand the world around us more logically. We typically accept and understand the stories our parents and faith communities teach us, but we tend to understand them very literally.
In this next stage as teenagers, we have several different social circles in our lives. Most of us have a need to pull together all the various messages we have learned from our family, friends, and faith communities in order to make sense of it all. So, we usually adopt an all-encompassing belief system. We find comfort and become attached to our beliefs, and have a difficult time understanding other beliefs besides our own.
Often as young adults, we start to realize that there are other beliefs outside our own. In this stage, some of us may begin to ask questions about our own spiritual understandings and sometimes start to question the faith of our childhood. Questioning our faith, having doubts about what we have always believed is a difficult stage. But make no mistake: it is quite natural, and spiritual exploration is often helpful in this time. It is often when people reach out to a chaplain to discuss their questions and doubts. Sharing your new thoughts and feelings with a chaplain can help guide you.
If we move to the next stage in the middle of our lives, we begin to realize and understand that life is really a mystery. We may be much more flexible in what we believe, but also more comfortable in our faith. Some of us may return to some traditions of our past, but we feel free to pick and choose them. We may also adopt new practices and rituals that bring us a sense of wellbeing.
Explore What Your Soul Needs
We hope you can give yourself permission to ask and seek answers to your spiritual questions. It is natural to actively explore new religious and faith communities – be it Christian, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, or any other you find.
Don’t be ashamed to try an alternative path – in fact, fearlessly embrace new experiences. Explore different faiths to find one that not only feels comfortable, but also helps you to heal your painful feelings.
Realize that your willingness to venture out and explore new faith communities may have implications for you and your family. It may be that your family members don’t feel the need to seek other spiritual, faith or religious options. Be open and communicate to your loved ones about your need for spiritual exploration and growth. While it may be difficult for them at first to understand your choices, know that they, most likely, only want the best for you.
We are here to help you find what you seek. Consider using some of the Spiritual Assessment Tools included on this site or perhaps seek the interactive spiritual support through Chat with a Chaplain.