In The Reflection

In The Reflection

Surrounded by a multitude of forgettable people
Drew
Drew
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Drunken and intoxicated with a multitude of narcotics, he felt nothing and he was happy because he felt nothing. He was consumed by the feeling of numbness (or lack of feeling). Sinking deep into an old torn couch, he was surrounded by a multitude of forgettable people. This was, at this time, his daily nightlife. He defended, against his own conscience, this habit by claiming first, "The Creator made these plants (filled with harmful chemicals) for a reason; therefore he has the right to pleasure himself this gift." Second: he felt since this is a blessing, he therefore does not need to feel shame in the indulgence of it. Third: he thought this to be the true form of companionship, producing the best of memories. But he could not escape the God-given integrity instilled in him. He knew he was perverting the original purpose, he felt great shame, and he knew all these forgettables, he called friends, were there solely for the purpose of forgetting. He continued on his path, and learned the cultural ability to ignore his conscience. Yet, he could not ignore the pulling of the soul—conviction.

*******

He entered the waters, sure of his decision, though he was deeply encouraged to do so. All of his past clung to his body—his flesh—and covered him like dirt and mud. As the water level grew, as he got deeper and deeper into the pool, his past—his dirt and mud—was washing away. Finally, he came into the arms of a teacher and mentor. His conscience was clear and his heart was ready; he had never felt such anticipation before. Now waist deep in the pool, surrounded by countless peers, the teacher asked, “Why are you doing this?”

*******

He woke up. Thinking he was home, he felt a sensation of peace. He then turned his head to see two half naked bodies lying on the carpet floor, a young woman and a young man. He forgotten their names but at least remembered his location. Where else would he be on a Sunday morning? By now the feeling of peace had been pushed away. He stood up slowly from the couch and scanned the area only to find more bodies scattered across the room. Empty alcohol glasses, half eaten pizza slices, and the faint smell of marijuana filled the room and tables. There was even still an unfinished line of cocaine on the counter. Feeling a little disgusted in regards to the state of the room, he wanted to wash away the dirty night. Dizzy and still incredibly tired, almost tripping over passed out teenagers, he stumbled his way to the door. As he entered, he switched the light—too bright. He then switched it back off and cracked the door to let some light in. He washed his face with some warm water, then cold. Still looking down, he grabbed the towel off the rack. He looked up into the mirror while drying his face. His eyes met his eyes in the reflection. What happened then cannot be described by mere words but nevertheless…

*******

There was no answer at first. The teacher then asked again, “Drew, why are you this?” He looked down at the water and saw the mud and dirt—his past. He wanted so desperately to cover himself in the thickness. He wanted so feverishly to cling to it. But then, for a brief moment, he could see his reflection. It was smiling and calm, and on the shoulder was an unidentifiable hand, a fatherly hand. This small embrace was the final encouragement he needed. He turned to his mentor and answered, “I am doing this because I need to let go.”

*******

Staring into the reflection, his heart—no his soul stirred. Something moved inside him, urging the greatest feeling of conviction. All at once, his heart was storm and his mind, the crashing waves of the sea. Yet he did not feel guilt. He kept thinking he should feel shame, he should feel guilty but none of those emotions came. He broke down and sobbed in the sink. He knew he failed, he knew he rebelled, he knew all he had done had gone against everything he had been taught. By now, he was on his knees with tears crashing to the floor. Then a hand touched grabbed his shoulder. He looked up and no hand was seen in the reflection, but the feeling of conviction was gone. His heart and mind were stilled. But now what of his soul, since that was the part that was deeply affected in the first place?

*******

Everyone was quiet before, but after his answer, their hearts were moved and some broke into tears. The mentor smiled and commented, “Good answer,” The teacher then said, while slowly submerging the young man’s body, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy spirit.”

Cover Image Credit: johnpavlovitz.com

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

Because nobody loves you more than she does.
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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Best Person In Your Life

Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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My Political Views Don't Invalidate My Religious Views

And vice versa.

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I've seen the skeptical looks people give me when they hear both my religious and political opinions. Some say I can't possibly be a believer in God, a Christian, while also being one of the most politically liberal people they've ever met. Some can't figure out how it adds up.

That doesn't mean that I don't consider my spiritual beliefs when making political decisions. I absolutely do. But everyone seems to assume that Christian = conservative or Republican or whatever other labels you want to give it. A lot of people believe that me celebrating the fact that I'm wholeheartedly a Democrat means I'm automatically an atheist and look down on all religious believers. If they hear that I supported Hilary Clinton, or worse, Bernie Sanders, in the 2016 election, then they assume that I couldn't possibly have a strong relationship with God.

Writing it out like this makes it seem even crazier to me that a lot of people think that these two things depend so heavily on one another. I'd like to remind those people that the separation of church and state exists for a reason. For this very reason.

I'm pro-choice. I unequivocally support a woman's right to choose. I'll advocate for women to have autonomy over their bodies, to have safe and legal access to abortion, until the day I die.

I'm a fierce ally for the LGBTQ community. Same-sex discrimination is something that haunts me to my core and the people I love in this community will always have my support. I will always hold firm in my belief that everyone, regardless of sex or gender identity or sexual orientation, deserves the same opportunities to love and marriage and starting a family.

But these beliefs of mine don't invalidate my belief in God. Or my relationship with church and religion itself. I can be both. I am both.

I've had more than one someone tell me that I can't support same-sex marriage and be a Christian because of what the Bible states. I've had scripture quoted at me in response to the fact that I am and will always be pro-choice. I've even gotten my fair share of dirty looks for having and wanting tattoos.

I've let it roll off my back because I know, in my soul, that I believe in a God who loves. That's it. No buts, no conditions, no restrictions. And even more than that, He tells us to love as he does. No questions asked. My political beliefs don't affect the love I have for human beings. They don't dictate how I get to practice religion. And vice versa, religion doesn't get to dictate what issues I support or which candidates I vote for.

I struggled for a long time to grasp the understanding that I can have my own beliefs, separate from what "traditional" Christians would have me do or say. For a long time, a voice in my head told me that I would be a bad Christian or that God would be disappointed if I chose to believe certain things, say certain things, or be certain things.

It took a long time for me to realize that generosity, compassion, and love should be my number one priorities. That I shouldn't focus on what society and tradition tell me about how Christians have always behaved. That I shouldn't put all my energy and effort into the strict rules or do's and don'ts of religion. Believing in God is about loving your fellow humans. In whatever shape, size, race, or gender they come in.

To me, my belief in God is about creating a safe space for everyone to be exactly the way He made them. Gay or straight. Transgender or Cisgender. Black or white. Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Catholic or Athiest.

It's about morality and standing firm in my own beliefs. It's not about checking each box on a ballot with what the majority of my religion may believe.

Here's the thing about religion: there are over 4000 of them around the world. It's not my job, or yours, to try and correct or dispute every single religious belief on the planet. At their cores, most religions are founded on the same thing. On the ideas of love, of kindness, and of being the best version of yourself.

Throughout history, we've seen that the overlap of religion and government usually don't end well for most involved. We've seen that mass, forced conversion from one religion to another, for reasons politically motivated or otherwise, is not something that can be done humanely or without fatal consequence.

Religion should not be the basis on which every law is created. It shouldn't be an excuse for persecution or alienation of certain minorities.

The only part of any religion that should be carried over into politics is the basis of love and respect.

I can support the LGBTQ community and be pro-choice and support immigrants and vote for whichever candidate my political views align with the most, despite the perceived Christian stereotypes.

There's a lot of pressure for young Christians, or young people a part of any religion, to fit into boxes that have been carefully molded over thousands of years. Boxes that say you can't believe one thing while also believing another, just because your religion says so.

My religious and political ideals are two separately formed belief systems. And most importantly, neither of my beliefs invalidate the other.

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