True or false?
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.”
Definitely false. Words can and do often hurt us.
Our bodies and minds are more tied together than the saying implies. Ever gotten a stomachache over words said to you, or words said by you? I have.
But what about what we believe? Can beliefs hurt us, too?
For example: You notice a poisonous snake curled up only a foot away from your own feet. But if the snake is in a glass enclosure because you’re at the zoo, you’re not afraid. Your body doesn’t react. You accurately believe you’re safe.
But if you see the same snake while on a hike in the woods? Your body will react differently. It believes you’re in danger, and appropriately so.
Our beliefs about our safety or danger affects our feelings and our actions.
So what about our beliefs about God? Do they affect our feelings of danger or safety? And our actions?
Think about your own feelings toward God. Some feel anger toward God. Many feel afraid. Or shamed. Or simply disinterested. Others feel at peace.
How we feel about God is based on our beliefs about God.
If we imagine God as a stalker waiting to catch us in one wrong move then bang!, or if we think God doesn’t care anything about us or our lives, we’re more likely to avoid God.
Who wants a relationship with a God like that?
But if we believe God to be full of love and goodness and filling us with the same, we’re more likely to pursue God and treat others with love and goodness as well.
So how do we know which beliefs are accurate?
That’s our journey.
We each have to search for the truth about God.
How can we find the truth? We stay open to learning more. We listen to how God communicates with us and in us. We read the Bible about God. We encounter God in creation. We see God in others. We pay attention to others’ experiences with God.
I believe God encourages mindfulness, not ignorance.
Just as we dodge literal sticks and stones, we stay mindful to dodge untrue words and beliefs about God as well—they’re also painful.
We’ll still experience pain in this life. There is no escaping that.
But by eliminating as many untrue beliefs as we can, we’ll also eliminate a few unnecessary hurts.
Seek the truth. As Jesus said, truth will set us free.
We can’t assume we’ve arrived at full knowledge about God.
We still have growing to do.
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