Opinion: Sometimes Faith CAN Be Forced

I know, insane, right? America is about the freedom to believe what you want. I’m not saying some dictator standing over you will change whether you’re monotheistic or polytheistic, liberal or conservative, involved or unsure.

As teenage sons and daughters, we are pre-programmed to do exactly the opposite of what our parents want. Sometimes, when they show us their religion, their beliefs, their faith, we disagree because we can’t stand being just like them.

Now, some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. But maybe you’re the kid I was a few weeks ago. I sat there in church, not an atheist, but as close as you can get to it without giving up the hope there is a god.

I believed that there was one force, call it God if you want, and it was in charge of the world. Simple enough. I didn’t agree with established faith, I ignored church, and most of all: I was completely against going on the#popluthyouth mission trip.

I’d gone once before; we went to Baltimore to live in a college campus, help out at soup kitchens, and meet awesome friends like Mike and Katie. However, Mike had graduated and Katie couldn’t come; I would be friendless and alone. And worst of all: at a summer camp. A summer camp!

I enjoy air conditioning, computers, WiFi … all of the things I can’t live without!

The day before the trip was a lot of little squabbles and loud fights; nothing convinced my mom that I shouldn’t go.

As these trips tend to, it worked a little magic. I got to know two girls in my grade — Dahlia and Emily — so much better. I would have never guessed that Dahlia shared my love for marching band, or that Emily was just as shy as I am (though I’m working on that).

It wasn’t just about friends. Those late night devotionals made me more comfortable with the concept of god, and more concrete with my beliefs.

No, I’m still not crazy about established churches and religions. I think going to church is helpful and being part of a youth group is a lot of fun. However, I think that you should believe whatever you think is true to you.

Perhaps you don’t believe in Christianity, maybe you’re an atheist or a polytheist. You could be Jewish or Hindu or anything you want to be.

Believe what you want, make your own unique set of beliefs. Faith and religion aren’t one size fits all. Find what works for you, and work with what fits you! (And sometimes listen to your parents … they’re right at least 15% of the time!)

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