Yes, 'Young Life' Is "Different"

Yes, 'Young Life' Is "Different"

"It's full of hypocrites, cliques and popular kids" no, its actually full of SO much more
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Chances are, if you go to a relatively big high school or college, you have heard about "Young Life."

Maybe you’ve heard that it starts with crazy loud singing and some weird games followed by just a “little bit” of Jesus at the end. With Young Life comes a lot of judgment and opinions, especially if you haven’t been. Or maybe you have been and you sat right next to the girl whose Instagram is loaded with pictures from the biggest parties and who has the reputation of “getting around” and thought to yourself “this just doesn’t seem right”.

See, that’s the most incredible part about Young Life.

One of the missions of Young Life is to reach the “furthest out kid”. The furthest out kid is not the one who sits in the front pew of church every Sunday and lives the cleanest life, avoiding parties at all costs. The furthest out kid is broken, sins and doesn’t have it all together, as none of us really do. The amazing thing is, Young Life has the ability to change your life around and allow that furthest out kid to meet Jesus for the first time and understand what it really means to have a relationship with him.

Young Life changed everything for me. I was that far out kid that lived a double life, until I was invited to club and eventually Campaigners and finally made the decision for myself to pursue a life with Jesus. Young Life was a place where I felt no judgement. I felt that I could be myself and be honest about my mistakes and my sins and still be loved in the most incredible way. I had leaders that constantly sought a relationship with me and allowed me to ask questions and were willing to be real about their own struggles.

When many of us think of Christians we think that they are people that have their lives together and are the closest people to perfect that the world will ever see but Young Life breaks that stereotype and shows us that that is the furthest thing from the truth. We are loved throughout it ALL, even our biggest mistakes and failures. Young Life provided me with friendships and relationships that are beyond any that I was ever able to create on my own. I found people that challenge me, encourage me and allow me to be ME, not someone that society tells me I have to be.

So yes, Young Life is different.

We begin club by singing Taylor Swift songs at the top of our lungs followed by games where we make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with our feet. But then the beautiful part comes, we get to hear the truth of the gospel, in a fun, judgment free environment where we are loved and accepted despite our mistakes, failures, sins, and brokenness.

My challenge for you is that even if you’ve heard that Young Life is exclusive or full of hypocrites or whatever the case may be, next time you get invited to a club, campaigners or to learn more about being a leader, I challenge you to try it because Young Life is more than just a silly club, it could be your opportunity to establish a relationship with Christ and it might just change everything for you like it did for me.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Parker

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What We Can Take Away From Lent, Christian Or Not

Even if Jesus isn't a part of your life, the message is the same.
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If you weren't raised in a Christian home, Lent is the season before Easter. It lasts for 40 days and starts with Ash Wednesday, where Christians of all denominations go to their churches and get marked with ash in the shape of a cross on their forehead.

When I was at mass this past Ash Wednesday, the priest described Lent in a way I hadn't thought of before. Lent is typically viewed as a solemn time. There is no joyful hallelujah, and we don't sing at the beginning or end of liturgies. The 40 days can sometimes feel like an eternity. But, last week my perspective was dramatically changed.

The priest invited us to enter into this Lenten Season with the perspective that we're all just working on it. Everyone has some struggle they want to overcome, or some mountain they need to climb, and Lent is the perfect time to do so. While the Christian tradition comes at this with the belief that Christ is the One who helps us conquer these struggles, I think this message of progress and continual struggle can be applied to everyone, regardless of faith.

Our society is so focused on keeping up appearances and only showing the highlights of our lives, it's easy to get lost in expectations. We look through our feeds on social media and see how great our friends look or how much fun they're having at school. If you're having a bad day and all you see is the filtered version of other people's lives, it's easy to feel like you're somehow not good enough.

I know when I'm having a bad day and all that pops up on my Instagram feed is pictures of my friends going out or looking amazing I feel like crap. I forget that other people have bad days too, they just don't post it for the world to see. This is an extremely isolating system, and we need to constantly remind ourselves that no one looks that great all the time. We filter our lives so no one sees the mountains we're climbing, no one sees what we're working on.

We want everyone to think we have it all together, all the time. But this simply isn't true, no one is perfect. Lent reminds us that this is okay. No one should feel like they need to be perfect every second of every day.

In the Gospels we hear about people who were falling apart, on the inside and out. Jesus didn't pass them over because they weren't perfect. He saw them for who they were and gave them the opportunity to become great. Even if Jesus isn't a part of your life, the message is the same. No matter what your struggles are, remember that we're all just doing our best in life, and we're all working on something.

Cover Image Credit: Life Teen

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How Catholic College Students Experience Lent

I'm gonna be riding the struggle bus for 40 days straight
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In the wake of Ash Wednesday, we have officially entered the Lenten season - the 40 or so days before the Triduum and Easter Sunday. (PS - The Triduum is the three days that precede Easter).

Being a practicing Catholic while at college is enough of a struggle on it's own. Being a practicing Catholic at college during Lent can be a downright nightmare. If you've been treading water this past week trying to fulfill Lenten obligations while carrying on your usual college lifestyle, you are not alone.

Whether you attend a college with a strong, moderate, or non-existent religious atmosphere, there are some problems that any Catholic student will run across during Lent. While being at a school that offers more resources for religious services or outlets for religious practice can definitely make life easier for these students, the Easter season poses new problems that even campus ministry might not have the solution to.

Catholics hit the ground running during Lent. There's no gentle ease into it. No, the Church says, jump right into abstaining from meat and fasting today.

Fasting in the Catholic Church is defined as limiting your intake to one normal meal, and two smaller meals, which put together do not equal the larger meal in quantity. It is required only two days out of the liturgical year - Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.

Okay, you think, I can't eat as much as I normally would today, but it's not like I can't eat at all. Don't be fooled. The amount of energy a busy college student needs is definitely not fitting into those tiny portions.

Maybe if you were to stay in your room all day and do some light homework you would feel fine. But imagine you have a big test and all you can think about is how tired or hungry you feel. Or heaven forbid you're an athlete - no way are you completing a workout or practice on that amount.

But Ash Wednesday is in the past, so you are halfway through your fasting obligation. Then you remember - meatless Fridays. Unless you're already a vegetarian, this can put a real damper on your Friday-night dinner plans with your friends.

You could easily order something without meat, but depending on your school's location, quality vegetarian options might be hard to come by. Plus, when all your friends have a big hamburger in front of them and you had to order the Caesar salad because the local diner's veggie options were basically spinach or potatoes, you feel a little left out.

Even in the school dining hall, you can run into issues with questionable seafood, scarce vegetarian options, and lame salad bars. Lent forces you to get creative with your meals, which a college student doesn't necessarily have time for.

Another struggle? Church. Finding a Church that's near you, has Mass that accommodates your schedule, and being able to find transportation if you're not in a city or town can prove difficult. Catholic school students, be thankful for the campus chapel.

Last but not least is the ultimate and perpetual struggle of sticking to your Lenten sacrifice. Cursing, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, Netflix. Whatever you've given up is probably one of the sole things that has been keeping you going this semester.

Without it, where are you finding the motivation to complete work, get out of bed, stay healthy? Short answer: you're probably not.

Lent can be a stressful time for practicing Catholic college students. Take time each day to just sit, reflect on your intentions and goals for the day, and remember that at the end of this all, you get candy and Jesus. Look forward to it!


Cover Image Credit: Pxhere.com

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