I’ve been trying to become Traditional for a few months, but it is hard because part of my family follows Christianity. I don’t want to disappoint my family.
I think it’s pretty wonderful that you are seeking help and guidance for this question and I hope that you continue to do this with the people you meet along the way. I find different belief systems and different spiritual awareness fascinating, particularly from backgrounds that are completely different than my own. This subject in particular is one that I think will be something you look at and reconsider for as long as you live. And, I have found that to be ever comforting knowing that I’m open to that change and growth.
Liz, you are certainly not alone in fearing the disappointment you might bring to your family by choosing another spiritual path. But forming your spiritual foundation is something that cannot sacrificed because you are afraid of hurting your parents feelings. Ultimately, it is you who will have this relationship with your faith for the rest of your life.
From your question, it sounds like you have done a lot of reflection on how you feel about your belief system and are aware that it conflicts with what the rest of your family believes. So, how do you bring this up to your family, and how will you chose to participate in family events, or not?
Traditionally, Native communities are not outwardly confrontational when it comes to personal matters. This of course is different from family to family. One thing to consider when broaching this subject with your family is that you want to show respect for your families values. Your parents are just people, the same as you. No one has all the answers and we try to do the best we can. We don’t know with certainty that one way is better than the other, but you have to figure out what way is best for you. If you choose to talk to them, do it in a way that mirrors the type of respect that you would like to receive from your family about your faith choices.
That being said, how do you go about talking to your family? I am a firm believer in organizing your thoughts before any major event. I do this a couple different ways. I find a place where I can be alone with my thoughts. When you’ve found this place, think carefully about what the important things are that you want to communicate with your family. Why is this important to you? What does this mean for the future? What things are you okay participating in with your family, what things are you not okay doing? Moving forwards, how will you deepen your faith? You don’t have to figure this all out in one step, by once you’ve had some time to think about, write it down, put it in a song, make yourself a video…something that will help you organize your thoughts to reflect on later.
You may or may not choose to talk directly with your parents. You may choose to explore your thoughts and feelings on your own time, but it is important to be prepared to have a conversation about what you believe in, if not with your family, it’s important to have these conversations with yourself. Try it out on your siblings, cousins, or friends.
Liz, I wish you the best of luck. Thinking critically about who you are, what you believe in, and how to make you better and stronger is pretty amazing. Continue to keep an open mind and heart. I can see them both growing from here.
Love to you,