Being in your 20s is a challenge in itself but then you add trying to live and grow in your faith to the mix and it becomes even more difficult. It can be so easy to just put your faith on the back burner in this time of your life with the thought that once it all gets settled you will pick back up where your left off and build up your relationship with God at that point. Sound like an option but this approach breaks the heart of God. He does not want us to have Him as a second thought or an add-on to our already busy schedule. No, what God wanted is to be the center of our lives now and forever. He wants to be the core of our life that everything revolves around.
You say, “Wow Katie, sounds like a great plan but how is that doable with so much going on in my life.” And I would say, “It is possible but it takes a lot of work.” It is something that you have to put work into every day. Although not every experience is the same, I wanted to share my experience in hopes that it can help you in your journey. Below I have come up with 5 things that have changed my faith over the past 5 years.
Dating and marrying someone from a different denomination
I was born and raised in a Christian family. We typically attended baptist or nondenominational church throughout my childhood so that is where I looked when I began looking for a church home for myself. After college, I began attending a large church in my area that was nondenominational and even began volunteering with the youth group as a middle school/high school leader.
When I started dating my husband, he and his family were devout Catholics. Which was quite different than what I was used to. As I got to know him I also learned a lot more about the catholic church. This gave me the ability to look deeply into what I had learned over the years about God. I was able to look at my relationship with Him in comparison to how the catholic church viewed its relationship with God. It only made me that much stronger in my faith because it allowed me to better understand where I stood with God. It also gave me a better understanding of how others connect to God.
Dating or marrying outside your denomination might not be in the cards for you but I do encourage you to take the time to research other denominations to truly understand them. It is wrong to assume what you have heard about a denomination is true without experiencing it yourself. Romans 12:5 tells us that we are all one body in Christ and each of us has a different function. Every denomination has different ways they do things but as long as they cling to the core of the faith we should respect them.
The bible described Jesus as the groom and the followers of Christ as the bride. There are many similarities between marriage and the relationship we have with God. We are special to Jesus, just as a bride is special to her husband. The union between a man and his wife is an eternal covenant and so is the relationship between God and us.
Being married also gives me the ability to understand the concept of unconditional love and grace. It allows me to give and receive this daily. Even when I do something that upsets my husband I know that He will still love me and care for me. I know that he will forgive me and that we will be stronger because of it. God gives us unconditional love and grace every second of every day.
Marriage is not for everyone but being in a relationship or friendship centered on respect, grace, and love gives us the ability to see the depths of God's love and grace.
The COVID pandemic changed everyone's lives. For most of 2020 and 2021, we were isolated and encouraged to stay at home and stay away from others. Although this was in the best interest of the heath of ourselves and others it led to an increase in isolation and loneliness. We were cut off from society and had nowhere else to turn other than God.
I grew in my walk and my faith over those two years because I finally had the time to devote to important things. In May of 2020, I was furloughed from my job, and then a few months later my husband and I moved many states away from our family and community for his job. I found myself in a brand new place with no job and no opportunity to be out of the house. It was all new and the only thing I knew for sure was that I could rely on God and my husband. I knew that I had been given this time for a purpose and I wanted to use it to build my relationship with God. To do this, I began spending more time with God through prayer and bible study which then led to me creating My Christian Walk. I was able to turn a bad situation into a time of great growth for my faith.
I believe that God puts us exactly where we need to be in every stage of our lives. Even in bad times, we can learn and grow. Sometimes we had to have everything taken from us so that we can see what is truly important.
Christian media influences
Media is so ingrained into our everyday life that it is hard not to let it influence you. Over the past few years, I have tried to increase my consumption of Godly media influences and limit secular media influences. Although I can never fully remove the secular media influences from my life, I believe it is still important to pay attention to what we are letting into our lives.
Over the years I have made a few changes that I believe have helped me limit the secular media's influence in my life. First, I decided to listen to Christian music more often and especially when I find myself being angry or upset. This opens the door for God to come into my day and grant me peace in the middle of my struggles. Second, I have stopped watching intimate scenes or scenes of aggression. I will simply turn the movie or show off or just fast forward through it. Certain things are not for others’ eyes and if I feel that is the case I don’t want to watch them. Finally, I get my news from a Christian-based source called The Pour Over that gives a quick overview of what is happening in our world with an eternal perspective/Christian perspective in mind.
Building the right community
Just ask anyone from the ages of 22-35, adult relationships are hard and nearly impossible to maintain at some points. There is so much change that occurs during this time in a person's life that it becomes hard to stay connected to friends. This is why I believe it is of the utmost importance to have the right people in your community. A community of people that love and support you gives you the strength to do the hard thing in life. They are God’s hands of support and comfort when bad times arise. A community challenges and pushed you to be better and to grow as a believer.
Having a community physically close to you is best but sometimes that is not an option. Thanks to cell phones and social media we can keep in touch and even build relationships despise the distance that can physically keep us apart. One of the main reasons I started the My Christian Walk blog was to build a community despite being distant from everyone I knew.
I know the importance of having a community because over the last five years I have had a decline in my own. Due to so much change in my life and the lives of my friends we have drifted away from each other. The lack of a strong Christian community in my life has negatively affected my walk. It allowed me to remain to stagnate instead of moving forward.
I challenge you this week to think about the things that have changed your faith in the last 5 years and to put a list together. I hope your list encourages and challenges you to stay the course and to pursue God even more fully instead of putting him on the back burner. If you feel led please share your list below or on social media using the #faith5in5.