Finding Identity in Religion
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked our Springtide Ambassadors Program members who identify as Hispanic and/or Latino how their identities affect their religious beliefs or spirituality. SAP member Tábatha was born and raised in Venezuela and has lived in the US since 2021. She proudly identifies as Hispanic and Latina, and believes her culture is “full of warmth, laughter, a hard work ethic, family unity, and servant hearts.” Below, she explains how her faith has developed into what it is today.
Growing up, my community influenced my religious beliefs and spirituality, but I did not agree with most of the things I was told. I could not understand why people expected others to be like them when we are all different. I also wanted a connection with a higher power that actually meant something to me. I started blending a lot of opinions and practices, but in doing so I secretly ended up more confused and lost. None of it “clicked.”
Later, I started going to a Christian church, but like I said, I have never been someone who “gets told” what to believe, so it wasn’t a Sunday service that changed me. I started serving in different areas of the church and discovering more about myself and God. My turning point was in December 2021. I was reading a book called Redeeming Love, and in doing so I believe God revealed Himself to me. I understood that I was no better than anyone and that I could not decide or know what was better for my life because I didn’t even know myself. I realized I needed a Savior and a firm foundation, and I found that in Jesus. Because of that, I cannot say that my cultural background and my spiritual beliefs are intertwined. I find my identity in God, and here’s why:
First, God created me. Psalms 139:13 says, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body / and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” He saw me—Tabatha—before I was born. “Every day of my life was recorded in [His] book. / Every moment was laid out / before a single day had passed” (verse 16). I believe my Father in Heaven made every part of me. He gifted me with passions and intelligence, He formed my body wonderfully and with care, and He put His spirit in me.
Second, God gave me a purpose in life. I can easily be anxious and worried about my future and my reason for being on Earth. I could agonize over questions like “Am I doing enough?” “Would this or that make me successful?” “Why do others seem to know exactly what they want, and I have no idea?” All those voices could get in my head and hold me back, affecting my actions and emotions. But God tells me that He knows exactly the plan He has for me: “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give [me] a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, and no matter what I go through in life—when I fall short, when problems face me without mercy, when people hurt me—He will make everything work out for my good because I love Him and because He has chosen me for a purpose.
Also, God wants me to make a difference in the community—the one he placed me in as well as those beyond it. It is not about skin color, financial status, or language; He sees our hearts and He loves everyone without distinction. God blessed me with all I have and as freely as I have received from Him, I desire to give to others (see Matthew 10:8). It is neither a secret nor a lie that we live in a wicked world; however, the goodness of God is greater than what is going on. He loved His creation so much that “he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God made the greatest difference in my life. He restored me, redeemed me, and gave me a new life. . . . He wants to do the same for every person and for every culture.
In conclusion, I love my heritage, and I am thankful for how it has strengthened me and shaped me as a loving, happy, and resilient person. I do not believe, nevertheless, that being Hispanic and Latina is the key factor that determines my faith and identity. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He loves me for who I am—a daughter of God.
(The Scripture quotations in this blog post are from the New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.)