Monday, July 13, 2009

Challenged Beliefs

Have you ever stood up for what you believe even when it was very hard? Tell about it.
     Years ago, about 1974 to be more accurate, I had been a stay at home mother of three for about ten years. I was about to embark on a new experience, returning to college to finish my teaching degree. I had had three years prior to starting my family and was returning to finish my last year which by now had turned into two years because of added requirements for graduation that had occurred in that interium of time. Upon entering, the first classes I was required to take were sociology and anthropology.  In the early 70's life in our world had changed a lot since I had last been a college student. Life at the liberal University of Utah and my conservative Mormon values and beliefs were about to hit a  collision like no other I had ever experienced. My first class was an Anthropology class. the Professor was a very intelligent man with a broad vocabulary and very liberal views. One time I had missed a test and had to make it up. I was to meet the professor and take the test. After completing the test we walked across campus together to eat lunch at the cafeteria.  As we walked, our discussion turned to A description of God. My professor stated: "Who said God is a He? Maybe God is a she or an it. I was shocked to say the least. I attempted a discussion with him on why I couldn't agree with his view, and became extremely frustrated when I was no match for his debating skills and broad vocabulary. I returned home that day discouraged that I was not prepared to defend my own beliefs. Upon discussing it with my husband, he reassured me that I had done the best I could and I shouldn't argue religion anyway. I knew that, but couldn't be at peace about that conversation. I felt I was weak and inadequate at standing up for my beliefs. 
     A few days later, I was sitting in class taking notes for a test. The words that were being spoken by the professor were outrageous to me. Somehow being silent about what he was saying seemed like agreement. I knew that speaking out on my beliefs on the subject would cause me a great deal of discomfort and most assuredly would create a debate in class and I knew I was no match for his vocabulary and speaking skills. You needed a dictionary just to know what he was saying. However, my conscience whispered to me, Dare to stand for what you believe. I raised my hand and as politely and clearly as I could, I said, I just want you to know that though I'm taking these notes for the test and will use my notes to answer the test,  I just have to let you know that with all due respect for your beliefs I cannot believe a word you are saying. I feel a need to let you know that I cannot in good conscience agree with you. Well, what I thought would happen did. I became the object of ridicule. I however felt wonderful. As class drew to an end I stated, "While I respect your right to your beliefs, they are not mine. You are entitled  to your beliefs and I mine. Yes, I passed the class. But if I hadn't it would have been okay, because the feeling within was worth it!  

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