“Would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I remember hearing this question once, and it has consistently remained at the back of my mind since I heard it. The person asking the question was in a church setting, and they had said “if someone accused you of being a member of this church, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
While the question was asked in application to a particular church, it struck me in how much it applies to what I believe. When I ask myself if there would be enough evidence to convict me of the things I believe in, it forces me to consider whether any of my actions, efforts, or things I say in life are in line with that I believe. What from my life could serve as evidence in a court of law to prove what I believe? If a person were to try and guess at what I believed from a daily log of how I spent my time, what would that daily log show?
As I explored this concept, I found that very few of my daily actions could be traced back to a belief that I consciously espoused as something I ‘believed in’. My days were full of running kids to sports or recitals, working and answering client calls, fixing things that break at home, etc. For many years, I told myself that I wasn’t getting to things I really felt strongly about because I simply didn’t have the time. Kids made life too busy to do everything I believe in, I would say.
For example, I personally believe that writing in a journal is a good thing, both for me and for my posterity. I believe it is something that I should do, yet it is something that I rarely do. It was easy to blame my lack of journal writing on the time I spent with kids, saying that I didn’t get to something because I didn’t have the time.
I maintained this belief until Covid hit. Prior to Covid, my wife and I were talking about what we had to cut out of our lives because things were way too busy. Once Covid hit and everything shut down, we found ourselves with surplus time on our hands. And, what did I do with that time? More journal writing?
Nope, hardly so. I discovered that my journal writing and involvement in other things I believed would be beneficial went down when I had an increase in extra time. At that point, I had to ask myself what was going on, and I learned something interesting about myself.
I learned that I wasn’t writing in my journal, not because of a lack of time, but because my belief and desire to do so were not stronger than other desires and beliefs. While I believed, somewhat, that journal writing was good for me, I learned that I subconsciously believed, to a greater degree, that sleeping, or playing with the kids, or answering a client call, or anything other than journal writing, was better for me, and I desired those other things more than a good journal.
I found this to be true with many other things. Take health for example. I didn’t exercise more when Covid hit, even though I had more time. I truly believe that exercise is good and that it helps so much with so many things, but I still struggle to exercise. Why? Because for me, I have competing desires and beliefs inside. I can simultaneously want to be healthy and also want to eat more ice cream, and as I looked at myself, it was obvious that I had other beliefs and desires inside that overpowered my desire to be healthy.
So, while I might, for example, say that I believe in the need to be politically active in America, those beliefs were being overridden by other beliefs I had inside, beliefs about staying away from conflict, avoiding issues, etc.
I learned that by looking at my daily life and how I spent my time, it helped show me what beliefs and desires were the strongest inside of me. In other words, my actions were reflective of what belief or desire was winning inside of me out of all of the competing beliefs and desires inside.
Faith, I believe, is a combination of belief, desire, and action. We have true faith, the type that can move mountains, when we consciously work to allow our beliefs, desires, and actions to align and let those override any competing fears, doubts, desires, or other beliefs.
To be able to understand what desires and beliefs control us the most, it is worthwhile to document how you spend your time each day. How much of it is on the internet, playing mindless games, or gossiping about others? How much of your time is spent bringing light into your life? How much of your time is spent working with or helping others?
When we choose to pursue and strengthen our beliefs and desires to take hold and produce good and meaningful actions, our lives, and the lives of those around us, will start to change.
Here are a few basic questions you can ask yourself as you take stock of what beliefs and desires currently operate the most inside of you:
1. What time do I spend building or helping myself be stronger, happier, or more successful?
2. What time do I spend strengthening or maintaining relationships with family?
3. How much time do I spend pursuing money?
4. How much time do I spend entertaining my mind?
5. What amount of time do I spend with things that uplift or inspire my thoughts and actions?
6. What amount of time do I spend on things that I believe matter?
7. What amount of time do I spend on things that will help to change the world around me?
Or, you can rate the different ways you spend your time along something like the following scale from one to seven:
1) Toxic, 2) Harmful, 3) Negative, 4) Time Filler, 5) Helpful, 6) Productive, 7) Impactful
In this life, we will all have times that our actions are in the 1 or 2 categories. We can’t sever all toxic relationships, for example, as some of those may be people in a family or close relationship, such as a neighbor or co-worker, and some of our time may have to be spent there. But, if we know that there are things that are toxic, harmful, or negative, we can work to reduce or limit those, and we can work to ensure we balance them with things that are productive or impactful as well.
Overall though, we as humans only achieve the things that really matter when we step back and take stock of our actions and how we use our time. Our most meaningful lives are achieved when we begin to take control and ensure that our time is being used to pursue the things we believe are the most important and helpful. At the end of the day, it is helpful to think “is there enough evidence from my life today to convict me of what I really believe?”
At Believe, we are working to build good in the world. We are creating a community of individuals who are willing to be proactive in addressing the needs and issues around them. We would love for you to join us. The world may never be the same.