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Divorcing Tradition

How to Deal with Changing Mindsets- and why that is OK.

Often we feel like our traditions and the ways in which we were raised are as much a part of us as some physical features on our body. We feel as though they are woven throughout the DNA strands that create our own person. Although that isn't the case, tradition is a part of our mental makeup. It filters the way in which we see the world, the way in which we view ourselves, and molds our thought processes when it comes to what we understand as important, valuable, respectful, etc.

I remember when I moved to Australia, and the moment I personally understood the term "culture-shock" for the first time. The difference in culture not only shocked me and made me unable to understand certain things, it also made me feel wrong, afraid, abandoned, and uneasy. The things that I had made as a foundation for life, as I had seen it for years, were now being shaken. I began questioning everything, including my traditions, wondering why I believed what I had for so long. What was once firm truth to me, now seemed like one of "many ways" of doing something, saying something, acting on a given emotion.

It is unnerving to feel like a part of you has been lost or challenged, especially when we equate it so much with our identity. Tradition, however, isn't always healthy. The way in which we've been raised to think may sometimes have flaws. It doesn't mean we disrespect the way others thought before us, however, as humankind, we learn new things everyday. We see advancements around us, and the internet opens so many more portals to foreign thought and foreign understanding. Some tradition is great, for sure. But we must be careful that it doesn't stop us from moving forward as the world around us is constantly growing and adapting. Knowing "why" you believe what you believe is so important.

When I was a kid, I wore my Sunday best to church, along with everyone else. It wasn't something you had to think about- it was just what you did! My new clothes, that were dedicated to that one day of the week, were washed and pressed- ready for me each time Sunday came around (usually khakis, dress shoes, and a collared shirt). It was a part of the tradition I had been raised in. It was the norm, it was right.

Many weekends, I remember staying with my grandparents, and waking up early Sunday morning to see my grandmother at the iron. My grandfather was the preacher, and we were right next door to the church in the parsonage. We would get ready and then just walk right over, Bible in hand.

However, one Sunday, as a child, I remember my father being at my grandparent's house. I asked him if he were coming to church with us, and I remember him telling me that he wouldn't be joining us. When I asked why, his reason was that he "didn't bring any clothes to wear." As I mentioned earlier, I had never questioned why we dressed differently on Sundays- but that one statement made me. It made me question the tradition. I realized that a tradition, a mindset, was stopping someone from entering a place of worship.

From that day forward, as much as I liked dressing up in my fancy clothes for church, I made a commitment to not dress up on Sunday anymore. Of course people had things to say, and I had to argue with my mother on multiple occasions. I made this decision not because I thought everyone else was wrong, but because I decided I wanted to be that one person that someone could relate to. I wanted to show others that your clothes had nothing to do with church, or God. It was merely a tradition of vanity in my opinion, and had become an expectation that didn't follow what the Bible taught as "come just as you are."

That story is a little example of a bigger picture. It's the story of a child realizing the power of tradition, and how easily we can forget the meaning behind what we do. (Even as an adult and a Pastor, I still bucked the system when it came to dressing better that my norm on Sundays). When our traditions equate to exclusion, stagnation, and pride- it is no longer about growth and what is best for humankind.

We have to change our mindsets in order for good. We have get rid of the racism, sexism, egotism, xenophobia, homophobia, and baises, because even if it is steeped in tradition, that doesn't make it right- and we know better now.

Always take one step forward.

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