Religion has always had an active presence in my life. From pre-k to 12th grade, I attended Catholic school. On my first day of college classes this September, it felt incredibly weird to be starting school without wearing a uniform. Although I attended a faith based school, I admit that I’m not a very religious person. My family and I would attend church growing up but, it would be very inconsistent. Some months we would go to church every Sunday, while at other points we would only go once every couple of months. I’ve always struggled with my faith and what it truly meant to be considered a good “Christian” or good “Catholic”. Last April, when I finally settled on the college I would be attending, I decided that I would go to Eastern University, a small Christian college. I knew that Eastern was a Christian school and had somewhat stricter practices such as visitation hours, no alcohol on campus, taking mandatory bible classes, and chapel services. Although I’ve enjoyed my time here at Eastern so far, it’s a lot different than what I thought I originally wanted for myself in a college. Ever since I have arrived on campus, I’ve been driven to think more about my faith both in my religion classes and through the whole atmosphere at Eastern itself. Although Eastern is obviously religiously driven, I appreciate how nothing is forced. Chapel isn’t mandatory and no one will throw religion in your face if you don’t want them to.
There have been many times throughout these first six weeks at Eastern where I have questioned my faith and what it means to be a Catholic. This has been one of the first times in my life where I have met people from other denominations because most, if not all of my friends growing up were Catholic, just like me. In many ways, even though Catholicism is a branch of Christianity, it is extremely different from some Christian denominations. In Catholicism, every prayer begins with, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I soon found that this practice that I’ve been doing all my life isn’t a common practice for other Christian denominations. Faith is a hard subject to address, both externally and internally. My entire life I have never been secure in my faith. Even though I attended a very powerful religious retreat my senior year of high school that did have a profound effect on me, it still did not make me feel secure about my faith or relationship with God. There are times where I feel like a bad person, because those around me seem so secure in their faith. Trying to maintain a healthy relationship with God has been difficult for me because there is so much about Him that I am unsure of. Although my relationship with God might be a bit complicated, I love being surrounded by a community of believers that motivate me each day to try to get to know him better.
If I’ve learned anything in these past six weeks of attending a Christian college, the most important lesson is that it’s ok to have questions about religion and about God. No matter what denomination you are or even if you go to church every Sunday, everyone will struggle at some point with what it means to be a Christian. Although some may say that my faith-based classes are “useless” I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to actually discuss and question faith along with others. Although attending a Christian college might have scared me at first, I’m truly grateful for the welcoming community that I’m a part of. I even took a step completely outside of my comfort zone and joined FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Twice a month we get together to pray and worship together. Although it’s something I thought I would never do, I enjoy it and hope that it will help me become closer with God. My relationship with God is and will never be perfect but I’m grateful that I am a member of a community where I can grow both mentally and spiritually.