I am not here to instruct you on how to conduct your most meaningful or rewarding life. I am also not here to tell you that it will always be easy to have faith. However, what I can promise you is that my relationship with God gives me more strength than I can express in words and I wasn’t always able to see that.

For a long time, I questioned my faith, I wrestled with it, denied it and ran away entirely from it. I closed my mind to what faith could bring into my life and how it could impact the way that I acted with others. We could discuss the politics of religion, the corruption of some churches and the flaws that exist in every religion. I am not going to pretend that these are not real issues. However, I believe that too many of us have stepped away from our faith entirely because of the flaws of organized religions or belief systems. You are allowed to accept certain parts of a religion and to disagree with others.

Your moral code and relationship with whatever higher power you believe in is designed by you.

Faith and how each person decides to practice is incredibly personal. I believe that you can be a spiritual person whether you attend church or not, so long as you practice your faith in prayer and act with good intentions toward others. Ultimately, from where I see it at least, the basis of all faith lies in love. If we can practice love with our whole hearts and commit ourselves to serving those around us and improving the world that we all live in, we are boundless and full of grace.

No person should be afraid to identify themselves in their faith, to talk about their faith or to be proud of their faith. To have such a personal and meaningful aspect of one’s identity be up for scrutiny, questioning or shame speaks volumes about the person who is passing such judgement.

This piece is not to condemn those who do not believe, but it is to invite back into faith those who left because of fear, confusion or whatever else. Sometimes we leave our God(s)/Ultimate Power when we need them most and we resort to unhealthy or unproductive coping mechanisms. Our hardship does not define us and our past traumas can be overcome so long as we do not look to unhealthy behaviors to numb our pain.

Do not run from faith, let it hold you when you fall, motivate you in times of hardship and bring light into your darkest corners. I pray multiple times a day and I remind myself that I am here for a reason. Faith brings me comfort, hope and resilience. Through God, I know that I can do all things that I work hard at. I am no longer afraid to speak up about my faith and I hope that you aren’t either.