Have you ever been afraid to admit that you're religious, go to church or that you just happen to love God? Are you afraid because you think people are going to make fun of you? Call you weird? Ask you questions repeatedly as to how you love a "God" who isn't visible to the human eye? If so, all of these questions are completely normal and you shouldn't be afraid to respond to them. I'm one of those people who, when I was younger, I used to ask my friends why they didn't go to church because I thought everyone went to church - I'm an avid church goer and I have been since birth.
Of course when I was younger, my parents and grandparents had to force me to go to church because I felt like the oddball since none of my other friends attended daily or Sunday mass. As I grew older, I realized that "I'm alive, because He lives." That's a quote from "Because He Lives" by Matt Maher. And then, my love started.
Growing up in a Byzantine/Roman Catholic household, church was a very common thing and believe me, I didn't like it; every Sunday, every Holy day, every day that my parents wanted to be in church, I had to be there. Church gets boring. I used to fall asleep. I used to think that the Gospel was just some random story the priest felt the need to tell us -- boy, was I wrong.
At age 13, I was invited to this "thing" (I used to refer to it as that tow my friends) called Light the Fire Catholic Youth Rally. Why? Why me? Those were the questions pacing through my head. Did I do something so bad that my youth minister wanted me to go to this thing? I begged and begged not to go, and eventually my parents told my sister she had to go with me (she was completely fine with going) just so I wasn't alone or so I didn't feel weird. Once again, I was wrong.
This youth rally changed my life. I love who I am and I love who I became because of this rally. Since that day eight years ago, I have been on fire for God. Why is that a good thing? When my dad died, who did I turn to? God. He reassured me that my dad was safe and completely pain free with him in Heaven. Yes, God told me that. If you ask God a question, he will answer -- you just need to listen.
Since 2008, I have attended Mass more often, I have helped people more often, I've just been a nicer person. If you are questioning your faith, it's normal, but you need to get out and find something, like I did, to know that faith is for you. Faith is for everyone, actually! For instance, if people attended church more, I firmly believe that this earth would be a better place. I understand that in the Bible, scripture says that man shall not lay with man, but in the end, if you're happy, that's all God wants. If everyone let God be in their life little by little, people would be more welcoming to others -- maybe there wouldn't be as many mass shootings of innocent people. You never know, it is a possibility.
This story was for those who are struggling with their faith because I've been there. It is possible to overcome that struggle and to be publicly content with your faith. If your friends decide to think of you differently because of this, they aren't true friends. Find the friends who will not judge you for who you want to be or find friends who enjoy faith just as much as you do. I have a group of friends who are strong in their faith and I have a group of friends who are not; neither of those groups have ever judged me because I got rid of the toxic friends. Toxicity is not good in a friendship, faith will help you realize that.
Remember, God never promised that life will be easy but, he did promise that it will be worth it in the end!