I think the most insulting accusation a person could make against me would be to say that I'm easily influenced. At a young age, I had a pretty keen sense of self-awareness that most of my peers seemed to lack. Justice and truth were important precepts to me, though I wouldn't have been able to articulate it in that way early in my life.
This sense of self-awareness has forced me to be honest with myself about my own motives; it became extremely important for me to ask questions and to pay attention when things didn't quite add up or make sense. I wanted to know the truth; not simply believe what I'd been told to believe. I wanted to discover the answers to my questions on my own because, if someone else has the capacity to "search out a matter" and come to conclusions on their own, what was stopping me? Why was I not qualified to acquire these alleged truths without help? I couldn't see why anyone had a better grasp of reality than I did.
Also, I was (and am) highly suspicious of other people's motives. Maybe no one else will trust that I've come to certain conclusions based solely on objectivity, but that doesn't worry me. I know that my goal is to accept the truth in whatever shape it takes. I know that this is a process of elimination and an honest examination of the evidence available. If others choose to disregard the facts that present themselves, I cannot stop them. I may be alone in the end, but I will know that I was honest with myself and not a victim of "Satan's temptation".
My goal is to find the Truth.
What good is a belief if held only out of ignorance? Belief is not a choice, despite the popular claim. Any "belief" held despite evidence against the assertion is simply delusion. I will not live my life in a haze of half-truths and superstition. I will not refrain from asking questions because I'm afraid of the answers. If faith equates fear of consequences for doubting, then faith is no virtue but a hindrance to genuine understanding. I will no longer be told that I am too weak-minded to stand under the weight of knowledge. That LIE is what has held us all under the powers that would subdue us.
The truth is: we are being subdued. From the time we were born, we have been told we are sinners and sheep; that we are worthless, pathetic wretches that cannot control ourselves. We have been told that we are depraved and incapable of morality if left to our own devices. We have been told that we are inferior, deficient, defective, base, disobedient, shameful, and wicked. Has anyone ever heard the saying that you get what you expect from people? If we are any of these things, it is because this message has been beaten into our skulls from the moment we took our first breath.
If you had a child, and everyday you told him or her that they were stupid, what would the result be? Some children would be strong enough to overcome this negative message, but most would succumb and live their life as though they really were stupid. Everyone knows this if they've been exposed to any psychology whatsoever. Even Dr. Phil would agree that, if a child is raised to believe it's worthless, it will behave accordingly throughout its entire life.
Why, then, are we told these things? Could it be that, if were to live up to our actual potential, we could all be formidable threats to those that would control us; a threat to the established system? Has it never occurred to anyone that religion is the very tool used to control us?
Obviously, this thought has occurred to many, but there are those who automatically recoil away from even the suggestion. Why?
When I first began my search, I believed all of my doubts would be assuaged and my convictions reaffirmed. I had faith that, if God were truly what He claimed to be, He would lead me to the answers that had been so elusive. I believed, really and truly, that He could not be disproved, so what had I to fear of asking questions? I thought He would encourage it. After all, Proverbs 25:2 states, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." I felt that it was my responsibility to have a full understanding of what I claimed I believed.
Isn't it common sense to expect someone who claims they believe something to know why they believe it? If a news reporter said they believed the stocks were going to rise next week, we would want to know why he believed that; we would want to know what his sources were and what he knew about the topic at hand to begin with. Was he a mathematician? Did he have some connection to Wall Street that no one else did? Bottom line, we would want to know his credentials for making such a claim. If he just "had a hunch" no one would take him seriously, and no one would put their stocks on the line.
Unless you have some vested interest in stocks, you might not insist that those making claims are credible. You may simply watch the news rather disinterestedly, feeling it's unimportant to know anything about stocks. The news reporter may have blatantly lied in an attempt to mislead investors, but you would never know it because it doesn't necessarily affect you. If asked, you would say you believed the reporter; you may even tell your friends that stocks are going to rise next week because you heard it on the news. But, the fact is, you know nothing about stocks and never researched your source of information.
I guess I'm rambling on like this to say that I've been researching my sources; I've been learning about what I claim(ed) to believe. I want(ed) to have a full understanding of the claims I was making and why. In order to feel I had an authentic faith, I had to search it out fully.
My goal is be authentic.