Something that happened when I moved out of participation in the church. I lost my confidence. Of course, I was no longer getting the validation and sense of responsibility that comes from callings/teaching/etc... and for a introvert like myself who does not naturally seek out service/leadership/human contact opportunities that has noticeably reduced my sphere of influence in the world. But I noticed something else as well. I had thought I was just going explore and expand my belief system, but instead I found my belief system merely disintegrating and when that happened, I lost grace. I lost the shield that had previously softened my failings. I don't mean this in a salvation way, a "repent or your sufferings will be sore" getting-to-heaven way. I mean this in a day to day, suddenly feeling much more overwhelmed by my errors and my insignificance. By the utter inconsequence of being a human animal.
I just finished Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. Campbell talks quite a bit about the importance of our spiritual Myths and Rituals in giving the individual a sense of place, purpose, connection to something greater. And he's pretty clear that the literalness of these myths isn't the point, it's their ability to give humans some sense of meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. A sense of confidence.
I've been trying to write this post now for several weeks, and I am still no closer to having some sort of nice wrap-it-up epiphany about finding meaning, having confidence, metaphorical belief systems, etc... So I though it was about time I just hit the publish button anyways and see what your thoughts on the subject are.