If you saw my instagram post this past week, you know that shortly after my 18th birthday on January 16, I made the decision to get baptized into the Christian church.
I received so much love and interest surrounding this subject so I thought now would be a good time to share a little bit more about what led me here, why I believe it’s important to share, and what I’ve gained from this experience.
I was very lucky to grow up in a home where my siblings and I were allowed to freely pursue our own spirituality. My mom was raised Jewish and my Dad was raised Catholic, and when my siblings and I came along, they allowed us all to explore different faiths. On holidays we would attend a Unitarian Universalist church, where multiple faiths were celebrated and no one was condemned for their differences, which was important to my family and me.
As I got older, church became less of a priority for me. I was very out of touch with my faith and placed value on things like working, friends, status, and money.
A few days after my birthday, I started a social media break after a very public lie was told about me online, and suddenly work, “friends,” status, and money faded before me. I felt really empty, because all of the things I had been working so hard to cling to weren’t tangible offline. My entire social circle and work life revolved around apps that were making me sick, physically and mentally. I hated myself and my body. I was crying constantly and feeling extremely lost as I tried to figure out how I was going to move forward.
I was living full-time in Hawaii by then and was surrounded by a few close friends who were so supportive in nurturing my healing. A few months earlier my friends took me to a brand new church on Oahu called The House Established (THE) and I had spent several months opting into a few services and talking with my friends about what church had done for them in their hearts. By the end of January, I felt so at home in the House and this beautiful community, and I knew that being baptized there was what I wanted to do.
I was met with so much love, but more than that, I was met with the realization that the weight I had been carrying wasn’t mine to bear. I didn’t need to know what was going to happen or how I was going to figure out my purpose-God’s got it. The notion that I was able to give my worries, trials, and fears to God to hold was uplifting and liberating. Knowing that He loves me enough to bear my burden and give me the opportunity to live this life in love and service is the greatest gift.
Beyond the peace that I found, I also found community. I found love. I found understanding. I found people who sought to help me grow, simply by spending time with me.
When you spend a lot of time on social media, and in social circles that revolve around social media, you forget that REAL FRIENDSHIP isn’t about being tagged or liked or viewed. It’s about enjoying the simple moments together, spending time unplugged and in nature, growing and having conversations that change the way you think and bring more love into your life. If the internet doesn’t like me one day, big deal. I have an other worldly love within me and around me from God. We’ve all gotten so comfortable discarding people we decide aren’t worthy of love, respect, or grace, but God has already decided. Humans cannot disgrace what God has graced, and the way that we judge is the way we will be judged. My faith has given me a whole new respect for myself but also for others, and now my community is full of people who want to grow with me, learn with me, and cherish me for not only who I am today, but for who I’ve been and who I will be.
I don’t share this story because my problems have all suddenly vanished, I share it because it’s important to me to let the people out there who may be struggling know you have a right to know God in whatever way it pleases you. Your faith is an incredibly personal thing and I want to encourage anyone who is looking to deepen their spiritual connection to pray, to find what works for you and to let yourself be welcomed by a community – whether it’s a church or not. I understand that not everyone’s experience is the same, and I hope that each of you has the chance to explore who God is to you.
I’m very grateful to my parents for allowing me to discover my own faith, I know that is a privilege not everyone has. I’m incredibly grateful to my friends and family at the House for welcoming me with such open arms and loving hearts. I’m grateful to everyone who has reached out about my post and encouraged me, asked questions, and sent support.
Humans are spiritual beings. If you feel disconnected from the world, while constantly being plugged in, it’s probably a good indicator that you need to step away from the internet and step into the real world. Social media has incredible potential but I think about 70% of the time it allows us to encounter such evil. I want to encourage you to learn how to identify it, reject it, and welcome the good. I highly recommend learning how to tune out the online static and tune in to your spirituality. Who you are in this big wide universe has much more to do with your creator and much less to do with how many people liked your photo today. I love you. <3