Being True to Ourselves Requires Openness. But, Do We Need to Tell People About Our Beliefs?

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Being True to Ourselves Requires Openness. But, Do We Need to Tell People About Our Beliefs?

I recently had new friend come for a visit for the first time. My whole space has become a temple. There are tools, art pieces, candles and offerings all over the place. I was faced with a dilemma. Do I explain what all this stuff is, or just wait and see if he asks?

We explored the apartment together when he arrived. Either he didn’t notice, or decided not to ask. He already has some idea about my shamanic leanings because of my tattoos. My beliefs sometimes feel like my sexuality. You wouldn’t look at me and assume I practice and ancient African tradition, or that I’m gay. That makes it even more important to talk about.

I think of coming out as a shaman much as I do about coming out gay. There are times when my beliefs are relevant and need to be put on the table. But, I get to choose when, and with whom I’m out about my faith. Making my beliefs a political statement isn’t important to me but, that could be a good reason to talk about them. If you feel that way, go for it.

There are two times that I feel compelled to discuss my religious practices. The first is when people ask. It’s only fair to offer them the opportunity to get to know me better if they’re interested. The second is when someone makes the assumption that ‘m Christian. Ifa practitioners share that experience with many people of faith. If I’m at someone’s house for dinner I calmly steel myself for the moment that grace is about to be recited.

I was raised Catholic so it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with the prayer. I just choose not to participate because I do not believe. I sometimes sit quietly. At other times I feel compelled to speak out and do so politely once the prayer is done. I remember dinner at a friend’s once. Her mother had done the cooking and started to say grace. When she finished, she looked at me puzzled. My husband and I hadn’t joined in. I asked her if she had considered that someone at the table might not be Christian. It opened a dialogue about my faith. It allowed her to understand my choice not to participate in the prayer. I was thankful that her evangelical leanings didn’t lead to an argument. We ended the evening with a deeper respect and understanding of one another.

Of course unlike our sexuality our faith is a choice. When I have these kinds of discussions I’m not only educating people about myself and my beliefs, but hopefully, also doing something to foster religious tolerance. Too many of our religions believe that they are the only path to God. From my perspective there is only one consciousness at the heart of creation. Regardless of what we may call that force it is one and the same and there are many paths to reaching it. That message is at the heart of being more open about our lives as Ifa practitioners.

I’ve been a full-time life coach, and mentor, since 2007. I’ve helped clients: find new careers or enrich the ones they’re in; discover new love or renew a fading relationship; deal with the stresses of day to day living, and of course deepen into the spiritual dimension of life..