It's crazy to think of myself this time last year, right before I really started delving into my faith. My reputation was most likely defined by my crazy personality, dachshund racing obsession, excessive nose-blowing during allergy season, and talent show rap performances. The most religious thing about me was probably just my name.
Going through the motions. That's how I like to describe my attitude toward faith for those 16 years.
Half of my high school career and all of my LIFE was spent half-heartedly engaging in my faith. But then, my image of a Christian teen starting shifting, and I started becoming the person I had secretly laughed at. I definitely did not have it all figured out, and I still don't! But I've at least been trying. That's the difference. Trying.
Before, I didn't feel the need to put into anything into my faith. I wasn't trying to grow closer to God. I may have wanted it, but I wasn't dedicated to actually establishing this relationship.
Like I said, I'm only beginning down this path, but even just one year into taking my faith seriously, I can see the difference. I can see that the path I was on before was not the right path. Sure, I could have walked that route my entire life and still been successful and happy, but it still was not the right path. And it's not the right path for anyone.
That path, the path of ignorance toward God, can make you happy and give you money and more...but it cannot make you joyful--truly, consistently filled with happiness despite the circumstances--and it cannot give you true peace and true satisfaction.
That close bond with Christ gives you a moral compass and keeps you grounded. Assuming you're keeping your eyes on Him, you don't get caught up in the trivial things in life. Sure, you'll slip up, but there's always the opportunity to keep on trying.
Now, I'm not condemning those who aren't into their faith. I'm just saying, why not? Why not go for it? Yeah, your reputation could take on a whole new meaning in a matter of months. And yeah, some people might label you a Jesus freak. It comes with the territory. You get over it. Because at the end of the day, all that really matters is how you treat the Big Guy. That is what affects your "success" in/after life, and that's what is going to shine through you if you play your cards right.
The young people who inspire me in my faith are often the nicest people I've met. And I know why. They learn from the best. They learn their kindness and their love from the One who invented these concepts. And yes, you can give my countless examples of joyless and mean Christians. In my opinion, if they're joyless and mean....they're not doing it right.
Pope Francis gets where I'm coming from. In June, he tweeted, "A Christian is never bored or sad. Rather, the one who loves Christ is full of joy and radiates joy."
Knowing Jesus has given me the most fulfilling joy and the most certain peace of my life. Nothing has ever felt more right than having this relationship. If I had heard those last two sentences years ago, I would've rolled my eyes, branded the author a weird Jesus freak, and moved on to something more "interesting." But hear me out! I'm not crazy. I am a (semi-) normal teenager. I've seen both sides of the scenario. And I can tell you that the glass of your life is half full when you start valuing your relationship with God. It'll take effort and time to make God a core part of your life, don't get me wrong, but I promise you, without a doubt, that you will be rewarded for your efforts, for having the nerve to try.
In the words of C.S. Lewis, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
Take a chance and trust me on this. There are better things ahead on your journey, so please do not miss your ride.
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