What do you believe in?
In 2001, I ventured on my very first youth mission trip (I write briefly about mission trips in this memoir). I was one of nine leaders. Mary, one of our veteran leaders, gave all the other leaders a hard-covered book called, “I Believe” by Allan Stark. This book is one of my favorite reflection journals to this day.
Mary gave us a copy of this book at the closure of the mission week in West Virginia. She inscribed the front cover with heartfelt sentiments (see photo below). I recall reading those lovely words while tears of happiness trickled down my cheeks. It had been such an incredible mission week, and I had so much joy in my heart that I was bursting at the seams. This gift was icing on the cake.
I immediately fanned the pages of the book and couldn’t wait to write down what I “believe” on each page. For this particular mission trip, we rented mini-vans, and we were divided into groups. As a leader, I was one of the drivers. Therefore, my entries into this new book would have to wait until I got home.
The book is a reflection journal and gives you space on each page to write what you believe based on the page topic. The topics are wide-ranging, such as, ‘Family, Personal Religion Beliefs, Priorities, and Dreams.’ At the bottom of every page is a belief shared by the Author that is meant to be idea starters.
After returning home and unpacking from the long drive to Wisconsin from West Virginia, I poured a glass of wine and began combing through all my treasures from the mission week. Sorting through the piles of paper, I uncovered my new book and got a tinge of inspiration.
I went to a desk drawer and pulled out a fancy pen. At the time, “gel” pens were new and came in drastic colors. I chose a gold-colored gel pen. A regular “Bic” pen would not do justice for these special pages. As a regimented person, I started on the first page, “Family” and wrote the below words. After that, I skipped around and landed on whatever page fancied me at the time.
I believe family is a gift from God. That they are who and what you came from. Sometimes you hate them while growing up – but when you mature, you always love them.
Your family is what life is all about. They are a blessing from God, and I am so grateful for them.
Your family should be there for you when you need them. You should always be able to count on your family.
After writing down what I believed about family, I paged through to the next topic that pulled at my heart.
I believe that love is the most wonderful, perfect, precious and awesome gift that God gave to us. I am so blessed because of the love I have from my husband, children, family and friends. Love keeps me going and the love I have for my husband, children, family and friends makes my life feel secure and endless. When the day is done and I close my eyes at night, knowing I am loved and have love in my heart, makes all the bad things seem unimportant.
I wish we had peace in all the world, that there was no pain or suffering in all the world, for ALL children to be loved and cherished by their parents. I wish that people never had to go hungry and that people would be responsible.
I believe that if I had a lot of money, I would build a home for children who have no home, who are abused or have no family. I would create a loving and caring shelter for them and help give them the spiritual gifts and tools needed to succeed. Money should always be used to advance toward God’s Kingdom, not to build the biggest house or to have the best car and clothes. Money doesn’t go to Heaven with you.
In the Author’s Introduction, he writes, “The I Believe journal is designed to help you think about your beliefs…writing down your beliefs is an interesting, challenging, fun, and important process.” I agree. For every page I have explored, I have gained a better understanding of who I am and what I stand for.
Though my writing is a bit different today than it was in 2001, it is interesting to go back and read what I wrote so long ago. Do I still believe the same things? Has time and experience changed the way I feel about certain topics?
The answer is, yes and no, for the most part. I still believe in most everything I have written down. Time and experience have not changed my belief system much. I have core values that navigate my decisions and continuously shape me into the person I believe God wants me to be.
I’ve never stop reflecting on my beliefs. I continue to use the I Believe book to add additional thoughts and beliefs. There are other reflective journals that I use as well. Self-discovery is a journey, not something that can be attained when you reach a certain age.
Taking the time to work through all that you believe, feel, care about, and love is time not wasted. It is time well rewarded because it gives you confidence in who you are at the core and validates how you choose to live your life.