Most Australians would say they belong to a faith and have spiritual beliefs.
Frequently a person’s beliefs may differ from those of their family, or the religious group or church that they belong to. Having a spiritual belief and a family or church to belong to is an important part of most people’s community and social support.
Faith can Change
Inevitably we change as individuals over time; families change; and churches change too. When change occurs sometimes it is a good thing and other times it causes rifts or disunity. It is a normal part of life to go through stages of feeling really involved, and other stages where you feel like you are fence-sitters or in the minority or want to leave.
Becoming disillusioned with your faith can happen when a traumatic event occurs like the death of a loved one, when you feel marginalised, when leaders change things. Often church goers will not realise that they idolise the church leaders, and this places pressure on those people to be perfect. Pressure and stress leaves leaders with less choices in ways to cope, due to their fears of being caught out failing. It is much easier to feel that your leaders let you down when you believe there is a perfect way to do things. Many people believe their way is the correct way. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a perfectly correct way to do most things.
I believe you can make decisions to be involved in church activities without becoming disillusioned with your faith when things don’t go as you planned. The ideals you believe in are just that – “ideals” – and are not to be confused with the idea that human beings are not ideal and always to trying to do better and often not succeeding at that task.
Are your Ideals Realistic?
What you can do is analyse your own motivations and actions, review your ideals and ensure that YOUR actual behaviour and YOUR ideals are compatible. Focus less on everyone else and more on yourself. If your ideals are “pie in the sky”, then change your ideals to what is realistic.
You will find that you feel less disillusioned when you realise each member in a church has the same struggles as you and most don’t get it right most of the time. If you see someone who does, then just remember that you are only seeing part of their life. Only God sees it all and we should stop trying to be God. Judge others less and motivate yourself to do your best. This will help you feel in control and not disillusioned with others or God.
It’s okay to take a break from church or church activities to rejuvenate and refresh your outlook. It’s okay to spend time with your family if church activities have caused your life to become out of balance.
Author: Vivian Jarrett, B Psych (Hons), MAPS, MAICD.