Each person’s faith is personal to them, whether that is faith in God, the universe, destiny, or themselves. I believe that faith, although often connected to, is separate to religion.
Our faith is what drives what we value in life, how we conduct ourselves and how we make decisions. How we choose to express our faith may come from our upbringing, experiences in life, what we read, or who we admire. Our beliefs are being formed and shaped throughout our lives.
One source of emotional suffering can be when something shatters, or questions, our faith or belief system. When I work therapeutically with someone I see the importance of understanding their faith/value system. I want to know what is fundamentally important to them and what drives them in life.
Sometimes when there is conflict or confusion in our values this leads to anxiety, depression or anger. For example, I might value honesty in relationships but also value being kind/ loving. If a friend, or family member, wants to do something that I don’t agree with will I be honest with them, or be kind? Maybe sometimes I can be both, but sometimes we may have to live to one value at the expense of another. Helping someone to identify what their values are, and which they prioritize, can be a step towards being content in life and at peace with themselves.
For me personally my faith is in God. My faith determines how I make decisions, how I relate to others and how I live my life. For other people it may be faith in other things or other people that motivates them, and guides their decisions. Either way I believe our faith is always evolving, being shaped and challenged by our experiences, relationships and knowledge we gain.
Whether we use the word ‘faith’ or another word to express this concept the idea remains the same: what are the beliefs, moral standards, values, or ‘rules’ that we live to? What motivates our behaviours? What underlies who we are? I believe our faith is at the core of who we are, and honouring another’s faith, and chosen expression of that, is respecting and loving that person for who they are. It’s not judging them, or expecting them to change their faith, but helping them to truly understand what their faith is, and how that effects their attitudes, behaviour and identity.
When any of us have another honour our faith it gives us freedom to learn and understand more of what our faith is, whether that leads to strengthening our current beliefs or choosing for them to be shaped.