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Why Bother Unlearning?

As an educator I am responsible for instructing, not destructing. I teach students how to solve math equations, write complete sentences, and how to use a text to support their opinions. Teaching is my livelihood, so why would I want anyone to unlearn anything?                                      

  Parents Do Their Best

Someone once shared with me that much of our adult lives are spent unlearning concepts and ideas from our childhood. I agreed with them and here’s why.

My parents did their best to raise me with what they knew and I grew into adulthood with the best of what they had to give me. Respecting adults, remembering my manners, always doing my best at whatever I was doing and having an awareness of God were a few of the lessons I learned from them. These foundational skills have served me well and I’ve hung onto them. 

But not everything I learned as a kid is worth keeping. For instance, as a child of an alcoholic I learned to survive by adhering to the code of conduct that included three main behaviors; don’t talk, don’t feel and don’t trust. Though that mantra helped me to survive the childhood tragedy of my father’s suicide, those behaviors had to be replaced in order for my life to thrive later on as an adult. 

I’d like to take this idea of unlearning a little further along and into the religious realm. I am grateful my parents did not allow me to be feral concerning faith. They took all of us to church, made sure we attended catechism classes and proudly watched as we took our first communion and later, were confirmed into the church. 

My parents’ religion was important to them and they passed onto each of their offspring the importance of knowing God. 

But when I began to unpack the box marked “religion” I’d brought along with me into adulthood, I took a closer look at what I was taught. I discovered three underpinnings to my religious upbringing; I can do it, I must do it, and I will do it. 

The religion of my parents included a lot of doing empowered by personal will power. And for a while I believed that I could actually please God by being good, and that I had the power to be good. As long as I could produce goodness in my life, God was pleased. In other words, I strove for perfection in all that I said and in all that I did. To say the least, it was exhausting. 

I traded in those childhood ideas when I began reading the Bible for myself. My mantra for my religious life now is; be still and know that I am God. 

Why bother unlearning? When we find that old ideas are no longer serving us well, it might be time to let go of them for something new. No matter what age or stage we are in life we have the capacity to  grasp and grow, absorb and assimilate, comprehend and acquire something better.

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A heart's journey to forgiveness book by Terese Luikens