When You Just Don’t Believe Anymore

Say you spend your life believing a thing. You live your life because you know this thing is true.

And, for this thing to remain true, your beliefs have to be supported by a brigade of other beliefs.

And at some point you realize that this core thing you have always believed…just isn’t.

What you were holding onto may not exactly be a lie, but it’s certainly not for you these days. It’s not a fit.

You have some sort of anti-Damascus moment or you turn into an REM song.

But habits die hard. You’ve built your habits around the things you believe. And so you sort of run on autopilot, still acting the same even though your belief has died or faded.

That’s my story of 2019. I spent my life–my whole life–believing things. And I stopped. But, since I hadn’t replaced my old beliefs, I still acted more or less the same way.

It would be an overstatement to say that I was dead inside. A little hollow maybe would have been more accurate. Adrift and distracted is closer to the mark.

Watching the wheels, was the John Lennon song.

The upside of a set of beliefs is that they give you strength and optimism and encouragement. You believe in a thing and that belief sustains you for a long time.

You ignore any evidence that contradicts it. It’s easier to be all-in. It simplifies life to a manageable set of variables.

The downside of belief?

You become apart from reality. Some Pollyanna or Don Quixote who spends a lifetime tilting at windmills.

The bigger downside? You act ungenerously and sometimes unkindly to people who don’t believe as you believe. You feel justified in doing this to them.

Because they are outsiders. Unbelievers. And present as threats to what you believe. So we have to minimize our contact.

We don’t have to minimize our sympathy, but do it anyway.

But then what happens after your grand deconversion?

It’s hard to share the gospel when there’s no scripture. 

And it takes a moment to process the way you were. Why did you act like that? You wonder for a while.

And then slowly you put it all together again.

You find your way to a life that works for you and that you can live. Hopefully, you can see your past self with a little kindness. And you can see the adherents of your past belief with a little compassion .  And it’s on we go.

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Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is writing this blog. He's a startup veteran, having built a company called Simplifilm. This blog is about things that he's starting to - but may not actually - think yet. It publishes irregularly.
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