Recently I began experimenting by eating more vegetarian or vegan meals than meals that include meat. While there are a variety of reasons why, I realized the journey I took to get to this place mentally. What is funny is that I can remember, even as a teenager, my family joking around that I would probably be a vegetarian as an adult. Yet it wasn’t until just recently that I began experimenting with eating this way. As I began to wonder why I had continued cooking and eating meat, even though there are aspects that I dislike, I realized it was just habit and what had always been. My family was one that most of the time dinner was centered around a meat, and so I had begun to continue this way of thinking even though I could choose differently. First it had to get to the point where I hated preparing meat each evening for dinner, then I began to just leave the meat out, and finally realized that I needed to experiment with vegetarianism and veganism so that I was still getting enough protein.
All of this made me think about how much the way we are raised, what we are taught, and how we are trained to think impacts us. We are conditioned, not necessarily purposely, to think and act a certain way. Our upbringing, our families, our culture, and our experiences all play a part. How often do we just take it on as our own and not even question if it is right for us, or in some cases even truth?
I have heard so many stories recently from people who have come from very tough family situations and very hard places. I don’t even want to begin to compare my upbringing to the stories I have heard. While my family was and is far from perfect, I was blessed. But to know these people, and some of their story that led them to where they are today, it is amazing to see how resilient God created us to be. It is awe-inspiring to think that out of trauma and struggles Christ can show us truth, heal us, and pick us up and place us on a different path.
Much like my continuing to eat in the same ways my family did, I can see other areas of life where I just took on what influential people in my life thought and how they acted. I can step back and see negative things that were said to me that I took on as truth. I can see opinions that were formed on issues that I had never actually taken the time to research the facts surrounding them. There were issues that I was influenced to believe were black and white, and other issues that were grey with no right or wrong. We absorb the thoughts, actions, opinions, and influences of those in our lives as we grow up and are formulating our way of thinking.
One example is my identity in Christ, which has been a struggle for me since placing my faith in Christ. I had taken what everyone had said about me my entire life, good and bad, and internalized it and formed my own “truth”. Christ has shown me His truth and who He says I am, but I still default to the old way of thinking at times. Christ has brought others into my life that have been in the midst of an issue, that I was taught was black and white, and has shown me how it is not about the issue but is about the humanity of each person and what are their individual needs. He has shown me His truth and the black and white of issues that previously were grey. He has taught me that even when the majority of voices in my life say something is right or expected, it is wrong if it goes against what He says. As well as times that He has placed me on a path that had the majority of people around me telling me how wrong it is and reminding me of all the reasons why I should not or cannot do it.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8
“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:2-7
I want to be someone who lives with passion and conviction, not complacency. I want to take things I have accepted as truth and size them up to the Word of God, and hide His truth in my heart forgetting that which is false. I do not want to carelessly accept that which society or others preach as truth any longer. I want to recognize truth and see the world through His eyes and with His heart.