When I was in middle school and high school I was super religious. Sunday morning was dedicated to church service, youth group was where I got my social interaction, and Christian media was my entertainment of choice. But as I got older, I began to question my faith. The most specific memory I have comes from one summer at church camp.
I was out of high school at this point and this was the summer before going off to college. It would be my last year going to this specific summer camp. We were in the chapel that stood in a small clearing by the woods and having worship time. This was a time when the Pastor would preach and we would sing worship songs together. On this particular day, the Pastor spoke about symbolism and asked us to walk outside to find a piece of nature that symbolized our faith. As I stepped outside and encountered the unbearably hot summer afternoon, my body began to tense up and my brain swarmed with anxiety. It was clear that whatever we were choosing out here would be discussed back inside the air conditioned chapel, and I hated sharing due to my fear of public speaking and anxiety interacting with those I wasn't close to.
But I tried to clear my head and figure out what symbolized my faith. A piece of grass? A tree branch? Dirt? For someone who considered herself wildly creative, my mind was drawing a blank. I didn't know what state my faith was in. How could the adults expect me to make this decision in such a short period of time? And then I looked up and saw some of my peers had already found a piece of nature to bring inside with them. It was unclear if they were confident about their choices or not. My mind could only assume that they weren't stressing about this activity as much as I was.
What I ended up choosing was a small leaf that had a bunch of holes bitten into it, mostly likely from a caterpillar. I was quite pleased with my choice and truly felt it symbolized me and my faith at that point in time. I felt that my faith was like this leaf, the holes symbolized my doubts and my flaws. My faith was falling apart, but still there.
When back inside, we were told to bring our pieces of nature up to the front and put them in a bucket. It was an exercise to teach us that Jesus loves us despite our flaws of faith, I guess. I honestly can't remember. But what I do remember is that I did not walk up to the front. Even though all of my friends walked to the front, I did not move from my seat. I still recall the look some of them gave me as they stood from their seats and passed me by.
We were told to keep a journal at camp and that night I wrote about my experience. Although I feel it is too personal to share on here, I can say that I taped the leap to the page next to my entry and still have it to this day. It reminds me that my faith is not perfect. Today, I can't even call myself a believer but rather a believer in something that I'm not sure of. But that leaf still is relevant to my life.
I can't imagine if, on that summer day, someone had called me out for not bringing my leaf to the front of the chapel. It would have broke me, would have made me bitter and upset. The memory of that day would look completely different in my mind. I can imagine people telling me I was disrespecting the cross and my faith for my choice in the piece of nature I chose to represent my faith and for not being public about it. I'm glad that my personal decision was not put on display and scrutinized the way others have to deal with in their daily lives because they are public figures. Something as personal as one's faith means something different to each person as an individual. The same can be said for other beliefs as well.
Is Kneeling Disrespectful to the National Anthem? - US 101 // I've featured this guy before on my blog when I review North and South by John Jakes. Here is a great discussion on Sunday's events.
FANDOMS: Pop Culture's Cancer // I put this video here because Patriotism and Religion can often times look like Fandoms. This video voices why Fandoms can suck and I think it speaks to all things people can take too seriously.
My facebook post // This is a taste of my "political" views in rant / sloppy writing form