Why 20-somethings grapple faith in a faithless world
FARGO — Flipping through TV channels and scrolling through trending hashtags, we find that escaping news of the world's latest tragedies is as difficult as avoiding fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Amidst the news of mass bloodshed, unwarranted cyber attacks and Mother Nature's wrath, we often hold our deepest beliefs to ourselves. In a world where everyone and everything should be accepted, we wonder if our faith ever will be, no matter the definition.
For some, having faith means attending church, hosting a Bible study or saying prayers for those who desperately need them. For others, it's the art of being a decent human when it's most difficult, serving those around us with words, gifts or time. Informally, it might mean offering a seedling of support to someone or something bigger than ourselves. And still for others, it's making time to learn and grow in our faith — whatever that might be — despite the seemingly faithless generation we belong to.
But to preserve the peace in a polarizing climate, we keep the controversy surrounding our beliefs contained in an airtight bottle. We play our faith card close to the chest, not letting anyone in on what or in whom we believe.
In an age where higher powers don't belong in classrooms, saying "I believe" is out of line and any greeting beyond "Happy Holidays" is insensitive, it's hard to know when to speak up. We'd hate to cause a ripple in the water or a footprint in the snow. We've convinced ourselves that suppressing this facet of our lives is the right thing to do ... and sometimes even heroic.
But sometimes we're so wrong.
Sometimes muffling our own spirituality just adds fuel to the fire — or clamor to the white noise. Not only do we start to feel disconnected from ourselves, but we lose the chance to help others who might benefit from seeing our faith in action.
Who are we to know when a fellow young professional, mother, husband or niece needs a moment of light during this time of darkness? Who's to say a few words of hope might not make a lasting impact in the heart of the rubble?
Sometimes all we need is "20 seconds of insane courage" for something great to come of it. In doing so, we may even be surprised by the reactions we receive when we lift the curtain, unveiling this oh-so-vulnerable side of ourselves.
In fact, sharing our faith — in appropriate manners and settings — doesn't always offend. Sometimes doing so leads to deep, meaningful conversation enjoyed between two people as the smell of java lingers in the air. Other times it cultivates a genuine relationship, offering a significant faith-based support system in the most unexpected places.
You see, by baring our beliefs, we may be surprised to find we're not alone in this journey. Perhaps, many of the hardworking, seemingly strong-willed people who surround us share similar burdens. Maybe we aren't the only ones trudging through life's most difficult storms.
But in opening up, we might find that they, too, may choose to start their day in meditation, feed their soul in catering to others mid-day or kneel beside their bed in the moonlight, reflecting on everything they've accomplished with a little extra support.
So rather than burying those beliefs deep down in our hearts, we should take each day as a challenge, taking our courage to new heights. And, in doing so, may we be united with those who help us get through life's tragedies and focus on the next step — how to bring hope to the hopeless. And may our faith be our guiding force.