This past summer I had an encounter with a good friend of mine that made me think. And I mean REALLY evaluate everything I believed in.
At the end of the summer, I drove up to Chicago from my hometown of Memphis, TN to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years. I decided to ask another good friend from high school, Karina*, to drive up with me. I hadn’t seen Karina in a while and we both knew my friend in Chicago, so I thought it would be a good way to catch up and have fun.
Karina and I met in 11th grade and instantly clicked. We laughed at all of the same jokes and had similar options on the world and other things. But Karina was a friend that challenged me. She didn’t get overly sensitive or upset at me when I didn’t agree with her, and vice versa. We could not see eye to eye on certain topics, debate each side and still be cool. Karina comes from a Hispanic background (her mom is from Colombia) so we definitely had differences in the ways we were raised.
On our way to Chicago, the topic of religion and beliefs came up. Now, I was primarily raised in the church. My mom is a God-fearing woman and she raised my brother and I with biblical principles and such. Because of that, my brother and I were both pretty involved in our church at home, and I felt like I had a good grasp on who God is and what He means to me. My faith wasn’t a secret to any of my friends, and Karina knew this about me. So, when we started talking about God, she challenged my beliefs. She asked me hard questions like: “If God is real why do bad things happen to good people?” and “Why do people who claim to be Christians start wars and kill people?”, each of which are hard to answer and don’t have simple answers that really relate back to God.
As we continued talking, Karina shared with me that she believes in science as the answer to her life’s questions. For example, she argued that religion is a human construct and a means for humans to feel loved and valued. To her, God is a human-made idea. I would politely disagree with these ideas, and she would ask me why or how I believed in something I couldn’t see or touch. Each time I tried to give her my best explanation, but in doing so, I was kind of lost. At one point, I realized I don’t have easy answers for these questions. At one point I asked myself: “Jasmin, why DO you believe in Jesus? Where’s your proof?” Honestly, I was shook. I had never been questioned so directly about my faith and why I believed in Jesus. I was used to being around people that believed what I believed and not having people directly ask me to give a reason for my beliefs. But, I appreciated her questions and prying. She made me realize that I don’t know everything I thought I knew, and she revealed the tiny cracks in my ideas of God that I needed to examine and grow in.
At first, I was kind of mad at myself because I wasn’t able to explain why I held these beliefs. I started to doubt myself and wonder if maybe there was something wrong with what I believed. But instead of dwelling in that pit of self-doubt, I used those feelings and ideas to learn more about God and who He is. Even now, I’m still working out some of the details, but I’m grateful for the way her questions made me think and reevaluate myself. My faith in God has grown even stronger since then. I think our conversation was necessary for me so that I could go farther and not get complacent in my relationship with God.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.