Confessions of an Unbeliever
I have a confession to make.
For the longest time I held on to this crazy belief. When I say it out loud it sounds crazy, foolish even and quite baseless, but in my head it sounded perfectly feasible and so I held on to it for a very long time. The problem with holding on to this crazy belief, is that my arms were then too occupied to embrace new opportunities and my mind was too deceived to see and recognise truth. This week’s post is about damaging beliefs that we have, which sound perfectly reasonable in our heads, but do not hold up under scrutiny.
First, some background.
When I started out at my first job, I was payed quite little compared to my colleagues, especially those who were graduating from my department and set to make six figure salaries. It was fine for me because I was going to live in India and my salary was good by Indian standards anyway. Besides, it was my first job and the learning experience was more important to me than my salary, or so I thought. When I got to the real world, and had to pay bills and do adult things, I realised that perhaps the money does matter, and it is not just a nice to have. So I complained, a lot, about how much I was paid, and swore that my next job would be higher paying and more in line with my very expensive and mentally challenging education.
Only it was not, it was worse. However, this time, I rationalised it and said - you know what, it’s fine. I want to learn these data skills and break into the world of data. So I will take this additional pay cut for the sake of learning. And even though my sister tried, in so many different ways, to tell me “you learn on the job”, I remained unconvinced that my abilities were sufficient and made a foolish mistake. In India, it was fine, because my salary was high by local standards. In London, it was not because my salary was low considering my experience, my education and the city in which I lived, but again - training I told myself. It’ll be worth it. In my case it wasn’t (in some others’, it is).
However, the point of this is not to talk about willingly limiting myself to roles that perhaps didn’t use as much of my abilities as they could have, but to illustrate the genesis of the crazy belief I had in my head.
So after working, leaving these two jobs and being faced with the position of having to find another job, I begin to think in this way:
You know what? Maybe I am just not meant to have a job that pays well. Maybe that is just what God wants for me. Perhaps it will make me humble, or remind me that mine is a life of service …
And so on and so forth the thoughts went. I held on to this belief and in every job I’d apply to, that offered a remotely decent salary, I would harbour this fear - this job is not for me. It pays too much. And I would use my imagined will of God to justify this fear, over and over and over again until it just became a hopeless situation.
Imagine you are trying to get a great job- one that you enjoy, but equally compensates your efforts. However, there is this strongly held belief in your head that a well-paying job is not meant for you. It is the most depressing thing ever because you are limiting your own self and while you definitely do not want to work for peanuts, you have made yourself believe that no matter how good or talented you are - you will only get jobs that pay peanuts.
It is so ridiculously preposterous. But these were actual thoughts in my head.
That is, until one day while I was in the shower (I do my best thinking in the shower while I am talking to myself - anyone standing outside would definitely label me a crazy), I realised some things.
The first is that I had, as I have done in the past, used God as a way to justify a lie that I had told myself. This is such a dangerous thing that many people do. We lie to ourselves and we use God to cover it up. I had to stop and ask myself - “when did God - or any other person on the face of this planet, for that matter- tell you that you have to work for next to nothing? Or that you should be a charity for corporations?”
It was just a lie I had made up in my head and I let it go unchecked to the point where it was blocking me from freely taking the opportunities that were open to me.
Secondly, I realised that apart from the lies I was telling myself about God and what not, I was the one who had made the decision to take those jobs. I was the one who saw those salaries and said - “yup, I am still going to go for it.” I was the one that agreed to be paid that much and then proceeded to complain about it to everyone that would listen. Nobody forced me. I made those decisions all by myself. Yet, I caged myself and I lied that God had put me in the prison cell.
When they say religion is the opiate of the masses. It is not a lie. It is a truth that is based on the fact that if care is not taken, religion, like any other thing in life, can be used as a tool to perpetuate lies because there is the idea that God requires blind faith. He does not. God requires that we know and believe the truth about Him and on that basis, trust and obey. We often ignore the part about knowing the truth. That is what most of our problems stem from in life - we believe all the lies and we know none of the truth.
We create these walls and barriers out of fear and we place the blame on some authority, refusing to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions. Because that is what I did. I did not stop to acknowledge the simple truth that I had limited myself to low-paying jobs. Instead, I blamed someone else, only this someone else I blamed was the version of God I created in my head - one that is limiting and restrictive and quite frankly, an enemy of progress. But that isn’t who God is and that is not the way in which I should be experiencing Him.
We lie to ourselves all the time because we don’t want to face responsibility or we are too afraid of the truth. Whereas there is nothing scary about the truth. It is the most freeing thing we can embrace because it requires that we open ourselves wide to receive the constant stream of opportunities that arrive to each of us every single day.
What lies have you been telling yourself? Perhaps it is time to have that conversation with yourself, hold up all your beliefs to the light and see which ones are truthful and which ones are not.
Be patient, the truth always reveals itself. Just don’t give up on looking for it.
Don’t let yourself live a life of lies … it is painful, hopeless and full of despair, trust me.