Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Beliefs & Behavior

A friend of mine Susan Vannice, who is the Pastor of Tree of Life Fellowship, posted this on Facebook.

I write and talk a lot about beliefs, but it is important to remember if we do not put those beliefs into action then they are little more than window dressing to impress our family, friends, and co-workers.

But I’m also curious about another aspect of this…can our behavior be independent of our beliefs? If our behavior falls short of what we believe, then do we really believe? Or is this a place where that tension exists that I wrote about in a reply to someone a few days ago? The tension I am referring to isn’t related to stress. This is the tension that exists in how we live our lives. If we lean too far one way then we tend to run off track, same results if we get too carried away going the opposite direction. The ideal sweet spot is when we are able to occupy the middle way.

I know what I believe…and I am comfortable with that. But I also know my behavior falls far short at times of optimizing how I think. In fact, most of my life I have known one way, but lived something far removed from it. Only over the last two decades have made a considerable effort to close the gap.

But there is still a gap.

So maybe this is what grace is all about. When we and those around us fall short of our stated beliefs, then perhaps this is an opportunity for us to exercise forgiveness and compassion. Realizing that none of us are perfect and all we really need to do in life is get up one more time than we fall down.

Today let us try to exercise some grace.

Be encouraged!

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45 thoughts on “Beliefs & Behavior

  1. wonderful post stephen : it inspire me this

    sorry it is in french but i think google translate will help you …i know a coach in paris , former actor, fan of Emile Coué and his methode , emile coué in the twenties was welcome as a star in the united states, maby you will finf someting in your google page…his method is exactly yours 🙂 be encouraged to help this inspiring man to be on the light again , the coach in paris is Luc Teyssier d’Orfeuil , he s got a communication society called pygmalion communication. he is a member of The International coaching association. Maby it could be a great idea to connect with him 🙂
    have a beautiful day !!!!!

  2. A gripping life on said:

    I love this, Stephen. It does seem the older a person gets the more they become aware of the gap and the more opportunity they have to learn about and practice forgiveness, grace and mercy. Obviously, some never take that opportunity. I don’t remember if it was Plato or Aristotle that said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” How many people do you suppose have not examined their own life in this way? This is just a hunch… MANY! Haha!

    • Lisa, let me do this gingerly…I think you know my heart, but I always want to tread lightly…I think most people examine their lives…I think they stop and take stock of what and how they believe…I’ve had some truly remarkable conversations with addicts, alcoholics, welders, pipe fitters, hobos, scam artists, drug dealers, prostitutes, dog fighting trainers, child molesters, rapists, CEOs, lawyers, bankers, doctors, druggists, priests, monks, house wives, teenagers, retirees, nurses, polygamists, and whole host and cross section of society and culture…they all think about their beliefs, actions, and consequences…but they all struggle with fear and failure…I’m no psychologists as you know…and I’m a rotten philosopher…and even a worse theologian…but the one connecting thread I have discovered in peoples lives is fear and failure…not to mention my own volumes of personal experience with those twin demons.

      Gee I didn’t quite mean for this to get so long winded…but maybe this is why I lean so heavily toward love, compassion, and grace.

      When we look at the caterpillar there isn’t a shred of evidence that one day it will become a butterfly…nothing in its demeanor…or its attitude…or its looks…but it does…of course if this were an accurate analogy, then every person would become a loving and understanding individual capable of creating utopia…but obviously it doesn’t quite work out that way…but still…we just can’t tell who might.

      Be encouraged!

  3. This is a great point! I always find myself coming up short of what my mind is telling me. I have great faith and know how to make good choices, but sometimes life gets in the way, I take the easy route and don’t do my best. It’s a constant struggle that I think most people have. But as long as we are conscious of what we’re doing, we can strive to do better and have our actions reflect what’s in our hearts.

    • Lily, I think it is in our striving and struggling that the real transformation takes place. Trees grow strong due to the wind and loads they bear during the winter snow and ice accumulations on their limbs. I think we might be a little bit like that. We develop integrity and character when we are tested.

      Be encouraged!

  4. I think that the reason why there’s a gap is that we sometimes change our beliefs to justify our actions. Maybe not change them completely, but alter them enough to make us feel better about our inaction. I know I’ve been guilty of selectively choosing what I believe so that I don’t have to hold myself accountable for certain things.

  5. Very true. Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) says that you’re judged by what you do every day, not once in a while. It’s a useful thing to remember, especially as I start my new and ambitious workout regimen.

  6. Wow, this should be a mantra for all human life forms. 🙂

  7. You always got it right.

  8. Behaviors are a reflection of your true beliefs. You can’t act contrary to your true beliefs. What most people don’t realize is that you can change/choose your believes. Beliefs are only thoughts that you have practiced a lot.Behaviors are a reflection of your true belief. You can’t act contrary to your true believes.

    • “You can’t act contrary to your true believes”
      “You can’t act contrary to your true beliefs.”

      So you can’t fall short of what you truly believe? The religious person who believes in the holiness of a Divine Being and is trying to be “holy as He is holy” can’t fall short of that ideal? Or if they do then what? Did they not really believe in the first place?

      The business leader who believes it is important to lead by example and seeks to be transparent and compassionate with all, makes a bad decision resulting in the loss of trust between him and those he leads. Did not he not really believe in the philosophical underpinnings of his leadership?

      Or is it more likely that in the above examples the individuals are simply human and frail. Unable to be “perfect” at all times. It doesn’t keep them from accepting responsibilities for their short comings, but neither will they abandon their stated beliefs because of their own deficiencies.

      This is where grace comes in. Grace recognizes that although a person may well believe in a certain ordered structure of thought, they may fail at different points in it’s execution. Grace does not forgive carelessness nor is it an excuse to fail at will, but it is the salve to heal the occasional wounds and provides the lift to restore one’s self to wholeness.

      I don’t know what happens in your scenario when people fail to follow through exactly with their stated beliefs. did they simply not really believe, or believe enough, in the first place?

      Be encouraged!

      • I wrote the first comment just after you posted your blog. It sat here for two days before I hit the send button. To my surprise I was not the first reply anymore.

        Most researchers agree that by age six, a person’s belief system is fairly well formed. By age six, some say by age two, youngsters have a pretty solid idea of what they believe to be right and wrong, fair and unfair, good and bad. Amazingly, these beliefs, formed so early, are not likely to change much throughout life unless, of course, problems arise.

        Nearly every waking moment, information is streaming into the human brain. The brain is busy organizing and categorizing this information, constantly scanning the ever-growing collection of information to guide subsequent thinking, decision-making and behavior. “What did I do the last time this thought registered?” “What should I do next?” This “systematic” way of developing a method for making sense of our world is known as a belief system.

        By having the past information from our childhood we actually keep ourselves alive. We know if we pull something from the back of the refrigerator out everything in front of it might fall out. We know if we are not careful with a knife we might cut ourselves. The past information can also out serve us such as a child that is told over and over not to talk to strangers, as an adult they have a hard time talking to and relating to people. A person who has been a victim of crime may walk around with suspicion and keep their guard up with everyone around.

        Think of a belief system as a “filter” through which incoming information is filtered. Much like a red filter in a camera lens would alter all objects being photographed to come out with a red hue. Our belief systems alter information to fit the “hue” of what we have come to know as the absolute truth. Filters can be very useful – but what if there is a subtle flaw in the filter. This inherent flaw will be imbued on all information passed through the filter. Your beliefs are not based on if something is right or wrong, it is based on what you observed or parents taught you when you were young.

        We should not beat ourselves up when we do something that we believe is wrong. We should just blame our parents… kidding. We should learn from our mistake and there are ways to change your core beliefs. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is only one way.

      • Thank you and well said…I greatly appreciate the time and thought you expend in creating your comments. Your thoughts always get me to thinking.

        Be encouraged!

  9. livvy1234 on said:

    Emotional honesty takes risk. Our personal truth is not someone elses, but at least we can risk speaking our truth or value honestly, without demeaning another. The word “No,” is a complete sentence. How many of us are “Yes” people when we really want to say know to a situation in our lives? I vote for emotional honesty.

  10. Sadly, some think they are exempt from etiquette…..Many years, ago (about this many) my grandmother felt she could get away with some behaviors that even a child could be embarrassed. I know. I was.

    As I approach further advancement as an adult, I realize she taught me old age, in and of itself is no excuse for bad behavior, lack of character.

    If anything, more than any other time in my life,my character should be reaching to its’ highest point as an example of experience.

    I am most assuredly, encouraged!

  11. yazrooney on said:

    I kind of think the same…that behaviour is a reflection of our beliefs. I think your religious minister, or your businessman WANT to believe what they think they should believe, but that their behaviours reveals the true belief. It’s not about being humanly frail, its about not believing. You either believe or you don’t. I feel that human frailty is just a symptom that reveals that we don’t actually believe something. I think that’s why we encounter such difficult things in life; bad experiences show us up for who we are. So many of us say we believe in God, for instance, and would swear to ourselves that we do. I mean, we really really believe it. But then something unbelievably bad happens, and all that goes. The truth comes out.

    Thanks for the discussion! You certainly made me have a good think.

    • This post has kind of started the Chicken or the Egg discussion. Do we fail because we lack belief or does our failures cause us to doubt our beliefs?

      While the cases you described do indeed support your thinking, I believe in my heart we can honestly and truly believe in our soul, yet fall short in at least some of our daily interactions. If we never feel short then we would be perfect. All our interactions would be exactly as we wished…I don’t know about you but I definitely fall short…forget daily, but many times even moment by moment…yet I still believe. I know how I should act, and the gap has definitely narrowed, but had it closed? No way.

      As I’ve written before I think this is where we need to exercise grace. It does not give us a right to fall short, but does extend a helping hand when we honestly fall short. And the important word in that last sentence is “honestly.” We can not give up, give in, or otherwise negate our beliefs because we know we will be forgiven. That is lazy. It is cheating. It is lying. It is hypocritical. It is wrong. It is many things, except honest and truthful.

      Thanks for the input…you’ve obviously sparked some thought on this side…hope you and yours have a great week.

      Be encouraged!

      • yazrooney on said:

        I hear what you’re saying, and I’m going to ponder it these next few days. Right now I really feel that behaviours can only take place because a belief drives them. All action takes place because of a thought, and a belief is a collection of thoughts. I don’t feel that we ‘sin’ or ‘fall from grace’. I imagine that we are just directed by hidden beliefs. Could we have two beliefs that completely oppose each other, sitting comfortably side by side..I don’t think so…But I’m going to look at my own positives and negatives to see how your opinion fits. You really do have a point.

        Take care! I’ll get back to you if I have an aha moment!

      • I look forward to your imminent return.

        Be encouraged!

  12. None of us are perfect. So true. Getting to a place where we are non judgemental would be a good start. 🙂 Lovely post.

    • It is in the struggle to get there that we learn, grow, and change.

      Be encouraged!

    • livvy1234 on said:

      Non judgemental behavior is not a fixed destination. Being of the human species, the best I can do is personal self observation which is hard work. I must pay attention to whether I am acting on a cultural belief, is that belief valuable in a specific situation in present moment flashing of time. Sometimes, we react instead of act. So there is the gap. The gap or space before we react or act might be less than a second. Sometimes I get off the exit and react; and sometimes I stay in the gap and step back. Doing the best I can humanly possible.

      • I believe you are doing a fine job…and I’m honored you are following my blog.

        Be encouraged!

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes on said:

        That gap of space, react or act – I get what you’re saying, Livvy. You seem very mindful, which is so way better than mindless… N.

      • I’ve been given to mindless in my life far more than is good and healthy…over the last two decades I have devoted myself to studying the other end of the stick…mindful. It seems to be working out much better for me.

        Be encouraged!

  13. Stephen, thank you so much for following my blog, and your continued support. And I love this post re: grace. You are right.

  14. WordsFallFromMyEyes on said:

    Another good piece, Stephen 🙂 Love the quote too, indeed.

  15. I saw Anggun C Sasmi posted this on her Tweeter. And then I retweeted it. I thought the quote was from her, but apparently it’s been around for quite some time. Anyway, thank you for this, Stephen. Great stuff, as usual. 🙂

    Subhan Zein

  16. I love the quote. Thanks for sharing inspiration and I appreiate you liking posts at My Journal of Praise. God Bless You.

  17. This is such a thought provoking post, and we really do need to pause and evaluate our positions on a regular basis. I liken awareness of the gap with walking in the light. Thank you for sharing this.


  18. Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article.
    Many thanks for supplying these details.

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