The Lesson of 2022

I’m dusting off my blog today. I didn’t post since last December which probably broke a record.

A little over a year ago, I thought I was going to start blogging regularly again.

Obviously that didn’t happen!

Instead, I found that having twin toddlers is just as busy as having twin babies. I also starting online classes with the goal of getting a bachelors degree in psychology. This makes my life busy but fulfilling as well.

That brings us to here and now. December 2022. The time of year that has me thinking back over the year. Read on if you’re interested in what I learned this year!:)

Cognitive Dissonance

I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night. It was one of those dreams that was fading so fast that I couldn’t remember any of it except for one phrase ringing in my head, ‘Cognitive Dissonance.’

I knew God was saying something because I didn’t even know what this phrase means.

So, I googled it.

Yes, in the middle of the night.

The definition didn’t make much sense to me in the moment, so I took a screenshot for future reference and went back to sleep.

Cognitive dissonance is when we hold two conflicting pieces of information simultaneously, as truth.

This causes something akin to mental pain because it doesn’t make sense. Two opposing things cannot both be true. And yet they can. However, because our human minds cannot make sense of this, it causes cognitive dissonance.

I still didn’t understand what God was saying so I spent the next couple of weeks praying, processing and researching.

Here’s What I learned…

The culture of Redding CA is extremely different than the culture of Lancaster PA. Not better and not worse, just different.

Because of this, many of my ‘truths’ that I didn’t even really know I had were challenged. Living among these opinions and ways of life that were so contrary to the way I grew up with caused me to learn about the other side of the coin.

The more I learned and lived, the more I realized that each side holds truth. This is the point where my brain started to hurt because both cannot be true. And yet, they are.

Side note: It doesn’t help that I am an over thinker and I need things to make sense. Half truths and opinions without scientific or factual evidence give me high blood pressure, I’m pretty sure.

Here’s some examples of the cognitive dissonance in my life…

  1. How many kids is too many? Some people from our amish background consider stopping at just five as selfish, not allowing God to lead our lives etc. (This thought process is changing but does still exist.) The response from non-conservatives is quite different… Most people just freak out that we have so many kids, but on this side of the spectrum the belief leans toward having a lot of kids as selfish and irresponsible. (This isn’t something we’ve personally experienced but this belief system does exist.)

Too few kids is selfish + too many kids is selfish = cognitive dissonance.

Why? Because as mentioned before, I like hard truths.

There is none here.

It is true that sometimes people choose to have less kids for selfish reasons. It is also true that with large families, emotional needs aren’t always met.

Both hold truth.

There is no right or wrong. It is simply up to each individual person.

2. Too consume alcohol or not to consume alcohol? In our background, it’s a hard no. I’m not sure why exactly except the Bible talks about drunkenness being unacceptable, and I guess because of this it was easier to just do away with as a whole.

The non conservative world of Redding uses alcohol as a social drink. Alcohol in our friend group here is served the same way coffee is served at any Amish gathering. It is a drink to sip on while you socialize.

Again, there are no hard truths here.

Alcohol in the life of a christian is a grey area. You gotta simply do you.

3. Relationships. The amish culture is big on community and they do it well. It is undoubtedly their greatest strength and it is the thing I miss most about the culture. You cannot walk into and out of an amish church service without talking to people and it will be more than a passing hi. You can attend a non-conservative church for years without connecting.

Amish/mennonite people will look at you and smile or talk to you even if you’re just passing by each other. Non-conservatives will look at the ground, talk to their kids or simply not see you.

Honestly, this was the most bazaar thing to me at first and I could write a whole other blog post on it. To walk past someone as if they weren’t there, shuts down any chance of connection. To smile and acknowledge people makes them feel valued and it makes us seem approachable. It puts us on the same level. It actually is that simple.

The cognitive dissonance for me here was more of a rule following issue. I’m a rule follower by nature. This doesn’t mean I follow the rules, it just means I suffer internally when I break them. (winky face.) My goal for 2023 is to break a rule each month.

Notice that I said rules, not laws.

Also that was a joke.

Probably.

Back to the point, since I’m a rule follower I like to know what the standard operating procedure is so I can follow it. Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure often looks differently than I grew up with.

The Best Part…

My favorite part of our DTS with YWAM wasvthe fact that different speakers brought opposing opinions on certain ideas in the Christian world. This forced us to think for ourselves instead of following what we’ve always known.

The same is true here, when I can understand both sides of something it forces me to make a decision for myself. It forces me to dig deeper, to find clearer answers and to understand more completely.

In these grey areas with no hard truths to be found, it is also easier to learn what God is saying versus what humans are saying. This is a place where freedom is found as we learn how to connect to the Father’s heart, and to discern what he wants for us, and to live freely and fully in that context.

The hard part, but also the amazing part is that he leads people differently. While five kids is great for me, having one or two is also perfectly acceptable for the next person.

There is no hard rules and when there is, they are often steeped in religion.

He wants our hearts more than he wants our perfect performance.

As the stories of David, Noah, Moses and others in the Bible show us… our mistakes do not define our relationship with God. In the same way the Pharisees show us that neither does our perfect behavior.

There you have it. My revelation of 2022. Grey areas do exist. It is possible to simultaneously hold two opposing ideas as truth, (although it does cause your brain to hurt.) 🙂

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