“What does your faith mean to you?”
A friend of mine asked me this question about a month ago and it now weighs on my heart and won’t leave me alone. I think this simple question is something I’ve been learning how to answer all semester. It may seem like nothing, but I find it profound. One could ask this question of a variety of people and get a lot of different answers. Here was my answer:
That word was a reflex. It just came out of my mouth and I didn’t have to think twice. How cool is that? When I left the bubble of my private Catholic school and got to college, I slowly had to learn how to stand in the conviction of my faith and defend my beliefs– and let me tell you, it has not been easy. I looked around and saw people who had different morals than me, were not taught about the gospel in theology classes on a daily basis like I was, and who chose not to go to church. I was perplexed. How had I been so sheltered? More importantly, how would I interact with and coexist with other students who were not taught to worship in the way that I was? It did not turn out to be as daunting as it all seemed at first glance, but I had to grow through this new transition for sure. It’s taken me two years to fully understand how to be proud of my faith and not hide from it, especially in today’s political climate. It has been tough. Despite this, I am no longer afraid to exist with people different from me, I now LIVE for it! I love being challenged and I love learning why other people are agnostic or a different denomination than me. I love sharing my story and hearing what people believe as well. Sometimes people don’t understand my beliefs and they challenge me with questions or statements that break my heart, but God has strengthened me and even if I begin to doubt, he calls me back to the truth. These past two years have put me to the test more than I can possibly explain in one blog post, but this semester I started to see the fruits of my trust in God and it has been wonderful to experience.
I have always believed that faith is a deeply personal journey, and mine has had many ups and downs. There are periods of consistency in prayer and periods of dryness. Something I have learned is how to be patient with myself and not expect my relationship with Christ to be instantaneous. Like any human relationship, it has to grow. He desires a mutual and intimate relationship with each of us. Thinking about Jesus as a friend that I can converse with and share my hopes, dreams, and fears with is what has strengthened the way in which I pray and go about my daily life. I know that Jesus is someone who is always there with me in my heart and walking with me through all of my daily struggles. How do I know this? Blind faith.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
I can’t see him. I don’t really hear his voice directly– I’m not one of the lucky few who hear words in my head and know they’re from him. But I hear him through the voices of my friends, through the music I listen to, through the gut instincts of my conscience, and most importantly– through the words on the pages of my bible.
I’m grateful for this newfound trust and certainty that my God always has my back. He’s put me through tests and told me “no” when I so desperately wanted something. He’s also made me keenly aware of how lucky I am to have faith to hold onto and keep me grounded. I’ve felt the satisfying and everlasting Joy I get from my God and now I find myself wanting the whole world to have it– more specifically, the people who are near and dear to my heart.
If you’re reading this and judging me for preaching about my God, that’s fine. Maybe this is cheesy and stupid. Maybe you don’t believe there’s a god or an all-powerful being. That’s cool. That’s great– you do you. BUT, if you’re looking for a sense of purpose, feeling lost or sad or even depressed, I encourage you to search for something to believe in. What I’ve learned about human nature through my experiences, education and my relationships with others, is that we are all looking for something to believe in. We are all wandering around this planet looking for a purpose. I’m so blessed to know what mine is and to have my faith to keep me grounded and bring me back when I stray from my path. I think having a sense of purpose is incredibly important. Religion may not help you, but something might.
I’ve seen too many of my friends experience sadness or get lost in the things that this world claims will bring them joy. I’ve met too many people with anxiety or depression or both. Life is hard. Life is challenging. Life can be SO rough.
So what’s the point? Why are we here? What is our purpose?
I’m searching for an answer.
Maybe you want to know more about Jesus, or maybe you want to learn what the big deal is about religion. Ask me. Ask a friend. Comment your thoughts below. Let’s talk.