Turning to Trusted Relationships
Some of life’s biggest questions are: Who am I? What is my purpose?
Or lately for me: What’s next?
I’ve realized that I turn to three sources to hold these questions and think through answers.
It’s interesting to look at Springtide’s statistics about where people are looking to reveal all the answers—including looking to themselves. When asked “Why, when facing uncertain and difficult times, do you not participate in religious practices or turn to religious communities?” 58% agreed that “They do not like to be told answers about faith and religion, they would rather discover their own answers.”
While I agree that we all need to contemplate those questions and search for our own solutions, I am 25 and still struggling with what my answers could be! There is a lot of pressure on young people to know the answers to these big life questions as early as possible. But I’ve found that you do not need to know the answers right away. The answers will change and grow as you change and grow. It is important to look introspectively to know yourself, but it is okay not to know everything, even about yourself.
Before I can even begin to answer even the first two questions life throws at me, I am often prompted by other: “What’s next?” From the beginning of high school, to college, to life after graduation, I have been trying to figure out what the next steps of life are. There is tension in this question: somehow there is both an expectation to always have an answer, yet we’re also told there are endless possibilities and to stay open to other opportunities.
I try to resolve this tension by turning to trusted relationships—friends, family, and God. There is a saying that you are an average of the 5 people closest to you. These people will be the ones to guide us in these big life questions. They are the ones guiding, influencing, and giving me confidence when I am at life’s crossroads; they are the ones I need when I am struggling to figure out my life purpose. I know I am going to be okay because they will help me navigate these big questions, whether I have answers right away or those answers change over time.
My faith has always been a huge part of my life. As I continue to go to church, study my faith, and grow with it I am discovering more about myself and the world around me. The statistic above about the 58% who would rather discover their own answers than be told; I agree with that. The more I ask hard questions and look for answers within my faith, the more deeply I believe in it. Instead of growing up in a certain faith and feeling obligated to continue it because it’s what I’ve always done, I have an opportunity to decide for myself to be a part of this community.
I’ve taken time to explore the “whys” of my faith/religion. Why does my religion do what it teaches? Do those teachings resonate with my life experience? I take time to search for myself rather than always relying on someone else to answer the questions that rise up in my own heart. “Test everything; retain what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
According to one of Springtide’s studies only 14% of young people say they trust organized religion completely, which means 86% of young people don’t, at least to some degree. Maybe it’s surprising, since I’ve already mentioned that I’m religious—but I would fall into that 86%. Religious organizations are run by humans and as humans we are flawed beings. We make mistakes. Even when we try our hardest, we can fall short of our own best intentions. Which is why my trust in religion is only partial. The only one I fully trust is God. I do not go to church because of the community, priest, or the music, those can all be perks—I go for my faith in God.
Like many young people reflected in Springtide’s data, when I’m asking and answering life’s biggest questions, I turn to myself and reflect on my own experience, I turn to the people closest to me who I know will support and guide me, and most importantly I turn to God.
Abby Jones works in youth ministry and is a member of the Springtide Ambassador Program