Seniors: Exercising Changes in Your Faith Perspective

Sep 23rd, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Everything changes.  Now, that is a profound observaton!  One of the interesting facets of that fact of life is how often it is refused and ignored.  Particularly among older persons.  If, as you age, you have observed attitudes, your own and others, of resistance to change, then you are among the “typical” older person. 

Resistance to change is driven by the desire for predictability, safety, the need for presumed comfort and security.  W hen change is introduced, adjustments in life style and attitudes, behaviors and expectations are required.  If  changes are not met with some acquiescence ,  the results often carry negative impacts.  Lack of acceptance of change, in whatever of life’s shifts, says a great deal about one’s own refusal to be flexible and open to good change.

The same is true for Faith.  Those whose lives have included a faith perspective have often done so on the agreed basis, that is built on an unchanging set of principles and premises.  That, of course, is not real faith.  That is better described as dogmatic.  Unchanging principles of faith may seem to offer strength in the face of hard times.  On the other hand they may also introduce an intransigent, unyelding spirit that refuses the dynamics of healthy change in perspective.  

Faith is an individual quality that comes from the background, experience and influence of one’s early life.  It is often given great latitude in its influence.  Some choose not to include it as a framework to develop life style choices as they age.  That is a choice.  It deserves to be a choice without judgment.  One of the threatening and evelasting facts of existence has been the continuing human struggle to prove, often by serious conflict, the superiority of one’ s system (translate that faith) over another.   

Persons who choose to find faith in traditional, ecclesiastical, orthodox faith systems often do so deciding that it is good for them.  It well may be.  Having faith and exercising that faith in authentic serving ways is a choice for authenticity in one’s personhood.  However, choosing faith as a means to an end, i.e. “demonstrating your own piety,”  “earning points to get into heaven,”   ”proving that you are a part of the ‘chosen,’” etc. is largely hypocritcal and inauthentic. These motivations damage faith, deter its potential value in relationships and one’s own spirit.

Religious faith is best translated as a choice to be a servant, to demonstrate care and compassion to others, whoever they are, whatever faith perspective or tradition they hold.  Religious faith can be a description of depth of character, but often ends up being identified as a set of rules  to follow.  When it does, it is a mockery, a sham and lacking in the depth of behaviors that demonstrate genuine and authentic behaviors to others in the race to be human. 

Just as it is critical to exercise physically, it is crucial to exercise spiritually.  Expanding one’s own system of “faith,” however that looks and feels is as important to daily healthy living as diet, exercise, rest, hygiene, and all the other factors that are contributors to having a healthy world view. Being open to change in your own perspective regarding faith is as essential as doing so in every other facet of life’s challenges.



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