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Essays by Karen Anderson: Questioning

Illustration by Kacie Brown

A young friend told me recently that she was questioning her faith and it made her very uncomfortable. “It’s good to examine what you believe,” I said, “whether it’s your faith or anything else.”

We all grow up with a set of beliefs that come from many places, including family, school, church. For a while we assume that everyone shares these beliefs but eventually we bump up against quite different ideas—which may make us doubt our own.

There was a lot of judgment in my family, especially by my father who was critical of everyone who wasn’t just like us—which (I realized) was just about everyone! The same message came from my church which believed itself to be the only source of truth.

On my way to adulthood, however, I encountered a larger vision—one which embraced differences and rejected prejudice. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” Jesus said and it gave me courage to challenge my father’s bigotry. I thought carefully about my faith, too. And although Jesus was a wise man, he wasn’t the only one. There were wise women, too.

“It’s healthy to question your beliefs,” I told my young friend, “You may decide to keep them, but it will be your choice.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.