Whether you identify with a small collective of spiritualists, conform to a world-wide, highly recognized religion, or openly denounce the reality of any omnipresent deity, being proud of your beliefs is paramount in developing a strong sense of self. You likely derive much of your self-esteem, worth and value in the world from your beliefs, particularly your spiritual stance.
It is important to meet any challenge to your beliefs not with aggression or stubbornness, but with grace and open arms. Having your beliefs challenged can feel utterly violating and offensive. You may have removed yourself from the presence or lives of people who not only do not value what you value, but ostracize and shame you for holding and practicing your beliefs. But this isn't necessary. In fact, it can be very valuable in learning about yourself, and your personal relationship with your higher power, or lack thereof.
Define and focus
I have found that challenges to what I believe lead me to define and refine what I believe in significant terms throughout my spiritual journey. I was lucky enough to be raised in a household and community that allowed me to experience and learn about many cultures and spiritualities. The one I settled on, as an adult, is based in being willing to be challenged. In fact, I welcome it. Understanding my emotional being and knowing that feelings are a human experience I am meant to embrace, helps me deal with any feelings of shame, guilt or even judgment for following these beliefs.
When I first stepped onto my current spiritual path and began writing about my experiences, I ran my revelations past my mother. She expressed confusion and concern over the new values I had adopted, and resisted many of the insights I had discovered about life - especially when she came to me to discuss issues she had in life. However, lately she has come across supporting information that softened her response to what I had told her years ago. She even called me to tell me Brian Greene, a leading quantum-mechanics, physics and mathematics expert was discussing other-worldly topics in a scientific manner on national television. And essentially saying the same things I was saying to her. This was a major turning point in our relationship.
I am not here to proselytize for any particular belief system. Nor is it my job to convince anyone to rethink or reevaluate their belief system with the intent to change it. If anything, I aim to help you deepen your experience and connection with your higher power. It may not be in the same way as it was in the past. But your personal relationship with your source of infinite power, wisdom and love is a journey. And it is natural for your understanding of and relationship with this source to evolve as you evolve.
If you come across an experience or person who elicits feelings of shame, guilt or judgment over what you believe, remember:
Your relationship with your source is personal. You don't need to prove it or justify it to anyone.
What you believe is valid. Just as valid as who you are. And what you think, feel, say and do.
Change your beliefs only if you feel motivated by love or natural progression. Never change because of fear or pressure.
Go to your source. It will guide you on how to respond, what to do and say and not do and say.
Be open to whatever you experience. It has come across your path for a reason. Learn and grow from it.
There is no need to feel ashamed of what or how you believe or don't believe, about anything. Don't let other people shake your faith or denounce it. Let them raise as many questions as they please, and challenge as they please. This has nothing to do with you. The only thing that truly matters is your relationship with spirit, however you identify it. Focus on that. And remember to love your difficult experiences, and difficult people, as you love your source.