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Why My Faith Has Evolved Since College And Why It Will Likely Evolve Some More

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Christopher Burns

To have faith in something or someone does not automatically apply solely to religion. We all live a life of faith. Faith by definition is anything that we place complete trust or confidence in. That could very well be ourselves, our families, our accomplishments, karma, that our chair will hold us up when we sit, that we will pay taxes, and more. It makes sense that the perspectives that we have on what we believe about things in our day to day life change on as we change (even if the things themselves remain exactly the same), so why leaders from my childhood looked so panicked when I have expressed my journey of reconsideration of things I have allowed myself to believe for so long was an interesting thing to me. Though I have grown to have more sympathy for people who are not yet comfortable with journeying into a world of uncertainties; exploring our questions is no easy feat, no matter your belief system. As Sarah Bessey put it, “I pray for bravery and guts, for honesty and discernment. I know you have a lot to lose – we all do when we lay down our certainties and our black-and-white thinking.

Growing up, I always had a strong sense of certainty. It was probably too certain. The world was exactly black and white, my understanding of “how the world worked” was sure, and my response to things was firm. I knew what I was going to do, when I was going to do it, how it would all get done. I was open minded in the sense that I was curious about some new perspectives here and there, but even then, I was just a curious observer…not a curious implementer. I only implemented things that I was sure about and I was not looking to change my mind. I had a growing sense of the limitations of my worldview as I traveled with my youth group to various states and met people from entirely different walks of life, but I had no desire to change my mind because even at the young age of fourteen, I understood that if I laid my convictions down to explore new thoughts…I may never pick them up again or I may not be the same person I was. Being away from everyone and everything I knew, moving to Missouri, and in a sense starting over gave me freedom to explore and to transition well. Nowadays, the hope of developing further into a newer version of me is so exciting and promising (even though I know the process of becoming this person will be one of the most difficult things I have gone through yet).

I am currently 22, armed with caffeine, more uncertainties, a learning attitude (with a tinge of idealistic perfectionism and carelessness), and my bachelor of science degree which declares me “proficient” in the topics of Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing (I do not work in the field, and by the looks of it– probably never will). At 22, I am nowhere that I thought I would be, but I am exactly where I need to be. Every day since the end of college, I have been faced with the reality that life is so complexly grey. I had a feeling that this was going to happen around the end of junior year. I remember sitting with my advisor and telling him that I didn’t feel like I knew who I was anymore, where I fit, or what I needed to give to the world. He laughed, assured me it was normal, and encouraged me to “lean into” what I was experiencing.

In response, I went home and sat in silence in my attempt to “lean into it”. I kept waiting for tears because I thought that’s what happens when your world gets rocked, but they never came. I sat for a long time in silence and then I got tired and went to sleep.

Since then, I have resolved none of my questions of the world or my place in it, but my resolve as a person has changed. I have resolved that I don’t know all the things and I never will. I have resolved that even though I struggle with correction because I value myself based off of my accomplishments and knowledge of things and I am nervous about changing, that I don’t want to live afraid and limited for the rest of my life. I have come to the realization that I am more than high spirits and wild big-picture ideas, I am entirely human. I am understanding that my humanity is my connecting point with everyone else. I don’t wish it away, because connecting with myself from that place has enabled me the freedom to believe in humanity as a whole. I am in transition with a lot of things, I am growing into myself, and learning how I fit with the rest of humanity. I am in process, so naturally, my faith (definition again: anything that we place complete trust or confidence in) is in process too.

The one hope that I have kept in all my shiftings and stirrings is that my faith in God is worthwhile. In loving Him, I have come to learn that Jesus is not mine to have but I am His. I have learned that a lot of things have little to do with me, but that I play an important role. I have learned that my Christian faith was never intended to sever me from my human experience. As it relates to my day to day life, I am seeing that my engaging with people and world-views that differ from my own allows me the opportunity to ask God questions I never had before. It has also given me a new faith in people. I know that I will never know the intentions of all who hurt me and that I will hurt people in the future (as I have already).

I know that the sun shines on us all and that we can all get caught in a rainstorm every now and again. I know that today I am here and I did nothing to deserve it. I know that today is a gift. People are precious and should be handled with care, but I know that part of being human is being forgetful and self centered so we may not always remember to care. I don’t know how it feels to have all my student loans paid off, to live in an apartment in New York City without my family, to be in a romantic relationship, to travel overseas alone, to ride a bike, or publish a book. I dream a lot, I think a lot, and beyond that I am learning.

If I am here tomorrow, I will celebrate and continue to grow. I won’t waste my days. I choose to live, to learn, to lay down my certainties from time to time, to lean into my pain, and to choose to evolve.  TC mark

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