Jackson: Questioning your stances is crucial. It was for me.

Over Thanksgiving break, I did the unthinkable: I shared my faith with my family and friends from home. The reason I say “unthinkable” is because about a year ago, the concept of a higher power seemed to me like a fable played off as truth.

I credit my anti-religion mentality partly to my upbringing and partly to just… my close-minded attitude. I grew up in a household where God was never talked about and practically didn’t exist. But from 1st to 3rd grade, my parents threw me in Catholic school (don’t ask me why). And I hated it.

Everyday when my teacher excitedly said “Okay it’s religion time! Get your religion textbook out!,” I felt like I was in TV show, and I desperately wanted to press the fast forward button. Going to Mass with my class every week, I became trained in the art of tuning out. I patiently waited for the service to end, so I could get my bread and leave. Writing this now, I’m pretty ashamed of 6-year-old me, but you know it’s the truth. As a kid, religion and God seemed like a fairytale, and although I could completely get behind fairy tales like Snow White, God was a “fairytale” I couldn’t believe in. My eeriness toward God stayed with me until less than a year ago.

For a long while, I denied God’s existence but didn’t consider myself an atheist. To me, the term “atheist” was too real and was a religion of its own — an anti-religion of sorts. In my eyes, I didn’t give enough thought to God to declare myself a wholehearted non-believer. After three years of Catholic school were behind me, I made a plan to dodge the religion and God question as much as possible… which was harder than expected.

I don’t know my non-religiousness attracted religious people, but ever since leaving Catholic school behind, the majority of my close friends have been religious. After I left Catholic school and landed in public school, my best friend was Taylor, an adamant Catholic. My middle school best friend was a Buddhist, and my high school best friend was raised as and still very much is Christian. Seeing them, I began to question my passiveness towards religion.

It took a whopping three religious best friends to finally wear me down, but winter break of last year, I started figuring the religion thing out. Over break, I went to my friend’s church and emailed the leaders of IMPACT, a black Christian bible group on campus. From there, I joined NU’s IMPACT and Cru, a Christian organization on campus. But it hasn’t been easy.
It’s been an emotionally hard process.

And when the going gets tough and I’m challenged on the topic of religion, I don’t fight. I flight. And little 1st grade me got that skill down very well. For spring quarter, I had practically thrown in the towel on figuring out God. I went to Cru and IMPACT on a sporadic basis, stopped opening the Bible and refused to pray to Him.

But through the many tears and confusion, there’s been beauty. Instead of standing in the middle of the faith spectrum not believing but also not fully not believing, I’ve taken it upon myself to put 6-year-old me aside and choose. And I’ve chosen Christianity. And I definitely still struggle here and there, but through this, I’ve gotten stronger. I’m no longer defined by the stance 6-year-old me took.

Our child-self is the creator of a lot of the beliefs we hold true — more than we would like to admit. Ask yourself the question, “What outdated stance am I still defined by?” And instead of taking the easy way out, change it.

Cassidy Jackson is a Medill freshman. She can be contacted at cassidyjackson2021@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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