About three years ago around this time I considered myself a ‘questioning Adventist.’ I’d just completed ten weeks as an urban missionary, colporteuring in the Philly metro area with an outreach team comprised of nearly thirty people. I wore the Seventh-day Adventist label publicly because I hadn’t found anywhere better to go, but I knew even then I was moving away from church, and three years later I call myself all kinds of things but ultimately I am a Humanist.
Massive changes in belief systems have phases. First you have to spend time disentangling yourself from your old belief system. This can involve a period of bitterness or confrontationalism in which you spend your time debunking everything you used to believe over and over again. (I think this is why fresh converts to any new way of thinking are often quite evangelical about their newly acquired ideas and thus can be super annoying.) Then you have to spend time reveling in your new found belief system, which often looks like a superiority complex to those on the outside. (“And that’s another reason why everyone should read Ayn Rand…”) After this second phase many people simply mellow out, coming to a more moderate version of their belief system; but ideally, the next step is to start living it out in everyday life. At least, that’s my ideal. I want to spend some time on this ideal over the next few posts. My writing will spotlight my perspective on the belief systems I hold dear, or a way in which I am living out these beliefs in a continual and tangible way.
I’m starting this series in part because there is a version of myself that I fantasize about: a woman who is fun, crafty, educated, and lives out her ideals on a day-to-day basis. This woman is active, thoughtful, and actively changing the world for the better. She strives to earn a place among the activists on her Pinterest wall, but isn’t as concerned with being them as with the transformative process of becoming them. I realize that I can begin the process of becoming this woman–this ideal self–any time I choose.
Writing about the ways in which I am living out my ideals requires that I start living out my ideals. The writing creates the accountability, and the accountability augments the motivation. It will also encourage me to reflect on what I claim to believe now, instead of wallowing–gleefully or bitterly–in the past.