People always told me that college would make me question my beliefs, and it did — but not at all in the ways I thought it would.
Let’s face it: college is weird. We’re suddenly ejected from the world we’ve lived in for most of our lives -– the world we know, the world we’re accustomed to and comfortable with -– and thrown into this massive pool of people we don’t know, who have opinions we’ve never thought of, and hold beliefs we may have never even heard of.
Oh, and we live with strangers now, so that’s cool.
But it actually is cool – not at all how my small private Christian school and somewhat isolated home school community told me it would be.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun and was given a good education in these environments, but there were some things they simply didn’t prepare me for. I thought that when I identified myself as a follower of Christ I would be attacked, mocked, shunned, and laughed at. I was prepared for that.
But, quite frankly, no one cared.
I have found a unique kind of beauty in that absolute lack of care. To be clear, I do not mean that my friends, classmates, and professors don’t care about me as an individual. On the contrary, they care more about me as an individual than they care about whatever differences in belief we may have. And we have some very different beliefs.
But the beautiful part is that for the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to learn what other people believe. I get to listen to their stories and experiences, to figure out how they operate and make sense of the world. And in the midst of it all, I get to figure out what I believe too.
There were so many times a new friend would ask me something about my faith, and I was shocked to realize that I didn’t know the answer. There are still things I don’t know the answer to. But when asked why I believe what I believe, my answer isn’t, “Because that’s what my parents told me,” anymore.
No, because of this opportunity to listen, to learn, to ask questions and seek answers, I can answer that question with confidence, saying, “Because I choose to believe it.” I have listened and learned what others believe and why they believe it. I have done research and read articles about things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. I have had my eyes opened to a world of things that were hidden most of my life.
Now, I am not choosing to close my eyes and retreat back into a sheltered life. I am choosing to walk forward, eyes wide open, with a confidence that my beliefs are MY beliefs –- not my parents’, or my school’s, or my friends’. I have chosen to follow Christ and live a life overflowing with His grace and love — for both myself and those around me. I have chosen to reevaluate the things I’ve been taught and test them against what I believe to be the truth, often discarding things my well-meaning teachers and pastors have told me.
Through this, I found out that the world is a beautiful, colorful, and exciting place that I get to adventure out into. I found out that I can choose what I believe, and do not have to hide my faith or be afraid of others’ opinions. I found out that I can change my mind and make my own opinion, imagine that! Beyond that, I found out that my faith is so much more than going to a church on a Sunday. My faith is a relationship with a real and loving God, who loves me whether I love Him or not, who sees the best in me whether I see it or not, and who chooses me whether I choose Him or not.
College has absolutely made me question my beliefs, and I am so glad that it has. Because questioning does not mean rejecting, or discarding, or rebelling against -– as I was taught. Questioning means exploring, thinking, diving deeper into things we once blindly accepted as “the way things are.”
You might find different answers than you were expecting. I certainly did.
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