Many people find faith integral to be an integral part of their identity. Even non-religious individuals are surrounded by the influence of religion in society. A growing number of individuals identify themselves as spiritual but not religious. Regardless of your degree of spirituality or religious affiliation/disaffiliation, there are some good tips for learning how faith affects you. Here are a few ideas for exploring this dimension of your cultural identity.
Create a safe space for talking about faith with your parents and grandparents.
Depending on your family’s culture, faith may have permeated many activities and been a constant source of discussion, or it might have seldom been talked about. Talking with parents and grandparents about things that are important to them can be tricky, but if you create a safe space it is possible to have positive and constructive conversations about faith.
Let them know that you’re truly interested in understanding them and are open to hearing about what they believe. If you have differing beliefs or religious affiliations, you may want to set a boundary that your not asking them to convert you but are wanting to understand them. You can promise non-judgement and openness and ask for their candor.
Learn if your family celebrates special holy days (holidays).
Religious holidays usually have a specific meaning or purpose attached to them. In North America, Christian holidays are often given prominent status (just check out your favorite shopping center around Christmas time). Every faith tradition, whether Native American religion, Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, or another belief system, has special times of year. For example, Passover is celebrated by Jews to commemorate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, while Ramadan is a time of fasting and spiritual reflection for Muslims.
Explore a holy text or sacred music and dance.
It is important to understand the importance of sacred texts in your cultural heritage. There are a number of religions that venerate a sacred text as the source of their faith. For example:
- The Vedas are sacred to Hindus
- The Holy Bible is sacred to Christians
- The Guru Granth Sahib is sacred in Sikhism
- The Torah is sacred to Jews
- The Tao Te Ching is sacred to Taoists
- The Analects are sacred to Confucianists
Explore your culture’s sacred text. Some faith traditions incorporate an oral tradition rather than a written text. These are just as valuable as those written down. Reading, listening to, or watching sacred texts can help you understand why people in your cultural heritage believe what they do. It can also open your mind to the idea that other people believe differently than you do and perhaps expand your cultural outlook. Each sacred text
Attend a gathering of a faith community.
The simple act of attending a service or community gathering can help you understand faith better. In many cases, you will be able to see how faith affects different people. This can be particularly interesting if you are attending a service or gathering that is different from your own religious community.
Reflect on the big questions that faith seeks to explore.
It is important to reflect on what is at the heart of your faith. What is so compelling about your faith and why does it matter to you? It is important to get underneath the surface of your faith to understand why you believe what you believe. This can be a difficult topic for some families as they may not wish to share their faith with their children for several reasons. For example, some families may be ashamed of their beliefs or have experienced prejudice or even abuse because of their faith.
The impact of faith and spirituality on your identity can be significant. It can also help you connect the importance of other dimensions of their identity, such as family, cultural heritage, and community. Finding ways to explore your cultural identity with faith can be useful for building a stronger sense of self. Faith and spirituality can help an individual become more accepting of others, be more compassionate, and develop a greater sense of purpose. It can also help an individual better understand the meaning of life and appreciate the beauty around them. There are many ways to explore your cultural identity with faith. Hopefully the tips in this article can help you get started.