Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Importance of Un-Belief

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How well do you see the world?

Can you hear or see a thing or a person or an idea for what it truly is? Or does everything you perceive pass through a filter? And does that filter change what you see, like light that is refracted after passing through a lens?

Does the world, or at least your perception of it, pass through a filter of your own beliefs?

I and Love and You

Beliefs are good. They help us to make sense of our world. They help us to interpret and respond to what happens around us.

Sometimes our beliefs, though, determine what it is we see. Sometimes are beliefs determine what it is we hear. Sometimes our beliefs get in the way.

Does anyone ever tell you that they love you? Maybe a spouse or significant other. Maybe a friend or a parent or a child. The three words are the same. I and love and you. But they don’t always means the same to you.

How those words affect you depends on what you believe about that person. Have they ever failed you? Do they seem to say those words all the time but act like it isn’ true? How long have you know them? Do they show up only when  they need something from you?

Or do they even mean it more than the words express? Did you know they love you before they even said the words?

Are You Afraid to Un-Believe?

While beliefs are good, they aren’t always helpful. While beliefs sometimes help you see, sometimes they make it harder. Sometimes they mask what is really there. Sometimes they blind you.

When we interact with people, whether we know them well or not, we have a belief about them. And sadly, most of our beliefs are based on what we see on the outside of them. We like people who are attractive more than we like people who aren’t. We think good thoughts about people that fit the stereotype of what we think a person should be. And negative thoughts about those that do not.

We have beliefs about people that are likely to be untrue, if we could see past those beliefs.

We have beliefs about books and ideas that keep us from seeing how that idea is helpful and good.

We have beliefs about God that keep us from seeing more.

Sometimes, in order to see more clearly, we need to let go of our beliefs. We need to un-believe.

My Un-belief

I once believed that I couldn’t possibly do any more. I believed that there wasn’t room for another in our family. I believed that I couldn’t afford it. I believed that it was too much too ask. But then i stopped believing.

I stopped believing that I couldn’t do more. And asked the question again. And in my un-belief, I found a different answer. I bought a bigger van. I said yes.

In my un-belief, I learned that we could adopt again.

I once believed that building my dream house was a good idea. I believed that beautiful pine logs set in five acres in the middle of the woods was a better story. And then I stopped believing.

I stopped believing that my home would make me happy. That beauty is built in the log beams. In my un-belief, I learned to see something different and I put my house up for sale, to chase a different dream.

I used to believe that dancing in the rain was fun when I was a child. But then I un-believed and decided it only got me wet. And possibly sick.

Maybe, I can un-believe again.

The Fear of Un-Belief

I hyphenated the word unbelief for a reason. The word probably scares you. It makes you afraid of what might happen to you without your beliefs. It makes you afraid of what you might start believing if you let go of what you believe right now.

You already believe something about the world.

Un-believing can be frightening. Un-belief creates a sense of uncertainty. We afraid of what could happen to us if we let go.

Would the world fall apart? Would “truth” become relative? Would your life feel like it were based on nothing substantial?

But the only way to see past or through or beyond your beliefs, is to let them go.

While it can be scary, letting go of your beliefs might be the one way you see something new, even while looking at the same things. Letting of your beliefs can let you see if there is anything beyond what you already believe. Letting go of your beliefs can let you experience the world differently.

Through unbelief, you can know if something is worth believing or not.

Have you ever un-believed something? Did it help you to see the world differently?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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3 Replies

  1. DanKnight

    When I was a child, I used to sing all the time. I loved music! Love playing with the piano (I saw “with” because we couldn’t afford either a piano or lessons), but I loved making the “noise/music” whenever we visited folks who had a piano. In my pre-teens years, I played the “tennis racket” guitar (think air guitar with a tennis racket). Then one Christmas my parents gave me a guitar and lessons. I was thrilled, until the day some “friends” mocked me for being “johnny cash”. I stopped practicing and taking the lessons. I began to un-believe I could play music and began believing I couldn’t.

    As my voice was changing, a friend in our choir, told me I couldn’t sing. One comment and I began to un-believe I could sing and began believing that my voice sounded bad. That was 40 years ago!

    Then three years ago, my wife bought me a guitar for Christmas…and I began to un-believe I couldn’t learn to play. Three weeks ago, I led worship at our church for the first time…playing guitar AND singing.

    I believe in un-belief!

  2. I heard a message at church recently that said instead of asking “What do I believe” We need to ask “What is the Truth?” Our beliefs are often skewed. Truth isn’t. Good post.

  3. Such a great perspective to have! It’s hard to let go of what we know and believe, but doing so can bring about a better story.

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