When I first discovered NPR’s This I Believe, I had just gone through a distressing process of realizing what I didn’t believe. Since then, it’s been easier to pinpoint what I don’t believe than what I do. But listening to the segment helps me realize I don’t want to define myself by my unbelief; I want to define myself according to what I do believe. In asking myself what I believe, I’ve come to see that the very exploration of belief is the important thing.
I believe that asking questions can be more important than having the answers.
Until I was in my mid-20’s, I believed very strongly in the version of God I had been raised to believe in. This God was one that had already provided all the answers to life’s great questions; how could one resist believing in such a God? When I reevaluated my belief system, I realized I simply could not be a part of something so religiously chauvinistic and so omniscient.
Leaving my belief system, letting go of that God and all his answers, was frightening and enlightening at the same time. When my world view came crashing down around me, everything I had ever believed, and everything I had thought I knew, came into question. Beyond all the dust and rubble of my old life, I saw a new life. It was as if light touched my skin for the first time, and there was a whole new world before me to discover. I began asking questions like I never had before in order to explore my new world and my new self.
I realized that I had never asked some of the most important questions in life, because they had been answered for me before I even knew what the questions were. Is there a God? What is the purpose of life? What is my role to play in life? Is there consciousness after death? The questions are simple, complex, and universal. I know they’ve been asked before, probably billions of times. But this time, they are my questions. I may be asking these same questions my entire life, and I’m okay with that. I have found more peace and exhilaration in asking my questions than I had in having "all the answers."