Owen is a Junior at Bloomington Jefferson High School where he is on the Swimming team. He is also a peer minister at SJA.
Recently, a friend came to me for advice. She knew I was a peer minister, and her question was about God. She told me that recently she was struggling with her belief in God and Heaven. It was even to the point where she had spent nights up late worrying about it. What she asked me was simple, yet profound.
“How are you able to be secure about your belief in God?”
In complete honesty, I was stumped for a while. I’ve known her for a very long time, and know faith is very important to her. I knew that this question was coming from a deep place in her heart, and I respected that. I told her that I would get back to her about it and mused over the question until that night. Why was I secure in my belief? What kept God and I connected even through the hard times?
My answer came to me during swim practice. I was in the middle of an extremely hard set with sections only a week and a half away. My Coach told me that his goal for me was to keep my time for that lap under thirty seconds. I pushed myself and with a newfound strength I made it down and back in twenty-nine seconds. That’s when I found my answer.
Faith is putting your trust in something. Faith is believing in what you hold dear to your heart. You can plant a seed and water it… but you have to let it grow.
Why does it grow? It grows because it can. That seed pushes out of the ground by sheer force of will. That was the answer.
I pushed through and broke the thirty second mark during swim practice, due to my faith in myself and my own willpower.
I quickly messaged her once I got home from practice. I told her what I had realized. My belief in God is strong because I want it to be. I love God because I want to love them. I put my trust in God. I put my faith in her. I put my faith in the good people of this world. And I know, deep down in my heart, that there will be a place for them. They fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls with love and warmth.
Heaven is real because I know it must exist. It has to exist. It must exist for our young servicemen and women who died for our right to live. It must exist for the ones who fight for peace and equality.
I see God all around me. During one of our weekly Minnesota Blizzards, the amount of students helping push each other’s cars out in the parking lot was astounding. At one point, two friends and I were all scraping off another friends car because they did not have a scraper. There is something powerful in the goodness of people. That power comes from God. The fire in a person's eyes as they push for the wellbeing of others is bright.
That fire keeps me going.
That fire keeps me believing.
Allie is a Senior at Henry Sibley High School. She's been a peer minister at Saint Joan of Arc for two years.
People always say how they want to live life to the fullest. But, what does it actually mean to live life to the fullest?
I believe it all stems from our relationships with one another. To me, living life to the fullest does not mean going on lavish vacations and going to the most expensive restaurants in town. Yes, going on trips can bring you meaning, but a lot of the time that meaning comes from something that you would not always expect; it comes from the people you are with and the lessons that you have learned. Living life to the fullest is a creation of meaningful relationships that help you grow as a person.
I feel like I am living life to the fullest when I am connecting with family on a long hike in Glacier Park. While hiking, you are surrounded by beauty and are away from all the superficial things that fill our lives today. It is almost primal with just food, water and human connection to sustain you. No technology, instant gratification, or sharing for the [Insta] gram.
It can be a hard balance between living everyday like it is your last and planning for the future. I think we need to live as if every day is our last day because our relationships will naturally grow stronger, and with stronger relationships we gain more meaning in life.
As a teenager surrounded by social media and all the hubbub that goes along with it, I see first-hand how people are creating faux relationships and building profiles of the lives they would like to live instead of putting the technology aside and living a true, meaningful life.
Ghandi said “live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
My challenge to you is to live with an exuberance for life and invest in relationships that bring you joy. Instead of letting the inconsequential things get you down, like a bad test or unnecessary drama, go appreciate what you have.
Our youth at SJA have amazing things to say. Our goal is to give them a platform to share their thoughts on topics they want to talk about. Their thoughts are uniquely theirs. From politics to faith, school issues to our church, this blog shares their voices with our community.