This I Believe: Habit or Heart?
I believe that religion and the belief of God needs to come from the heart, rather than just a matter of habit or tradition that has no personal meaning. For most of my life I believed in God because I was told that that was the right thing to do. I went to church because that is what my family did every Sunday morning. I even went through Sunday school, communion class, and conformation all because that was what was expected of me. I knew all of the basic concepts of why people believed in God, but I just felt like something was missing. I saw all of these people around me whose lives were changed because they believed in God, but I didn’t feel any different from the first day I stepped into church.
I remember a specific bus ride sometime during junior high when a girl turned around and asked me a question that I will never forget. She asked me if I was a Christian. Caught completely off guard, I wasn’t really sure how to respond. I wanted to tell her that I was a Christian, but there was something inside of me that kept on screaming that I couldn’t tell her that because it wasn’t the cool thing to say. I mean, who would want to be friends with a kid who said he was a Christian? At the time, I thought admitting that you were a Christian was social suicide. I finally ended up saying that I went to church every Sunday, so if that categorizes me as a Christian, then I guess I was one.
Right after I said that, I realized why I never felt the same way the other people in my church felt. It occurred to me that I only believed in God because my parents believed in God. I knew in my head that I was supposed to believe, but I never fully grasped that my heart had to believe in God as well. This is what I was missing in life. So with the help of my youth pastor, pastor, friends, and family, I decided that it was time to get my heart involved and make a change in my life.
After that time, I established a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accepted Him into my life. This belief is important in my life now because it gives my life a purpose and a newfound hope that I never had before. This hope comes from knowing that I am saved for eternity, and that life on earth is only the beginning. When I look back at what happened on the bus that day in junior high, I am glad that I said I guess I was a Christian. If I wouldn’t have responded that way, who knows how long I would have lived a lie. Instead, I made the change in my life and it has been the best decision that I have ever made.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.