Finding Your Own Way

Matthew - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

In a society where individualism and the belief in self is what is perpetuated as the only necessary assets to succeeding in life, regardless of the form of such success, being a brother is something that is not necessarily looked down upon, but its importance is often downplayed. Now, I’m not speaking of a brother in the strictly genetic sense, but in the sense that truly matters, in which every single person on this Earth is responsible for not only themselves, but everyone around them.

Growing up in a very structured, church-attending family, the idea of religion was not a choice, but more of a requirement. Sunday was the day to go to Church, and there was no getting around that. Throughout primary, middle and high school, the option of what to believe was really a radical concept, primarily due to the viewpoint that had been pressed upon me earlier throughout my life. Once I attended college though, belief became something new, something I could feel. And what I felt was something I couldn’t describe at first. I came into college believing that everything would be the same song and dance; that church would still be the same, and that I would still have the same beliefs and thoughts that I did in high school. And, was I wrong….

Shortly after my first semester of college, I pledged a fraternity. My parents deemed this “a surprising and completely unexpected decision.” But to me, this was something that felt right. For the first time in my memory, I did something, not because I was told to, but deep down in my heart I felt it to be the right action for me. I entered into something bigger than myself, into this brotherhood, where your past actions meant nothing, where you were defined by what you do in the present, rather than what you say or what you used to be. And upon entering this brotherhood, I realized something else about myself; that this same mentality applied to my view of religion.

I used to look at religion as this thing that I am supposed to follow because my parents said so, and if I didn’t, I was a bad person. Today, religion is a word I tend to stay away from. Faith is what I believe in. My personal belief in Christianity is neither here nor there, but my commitment to that belief is unwavering. On my time, in my way, under my own influence, I made a decision. My decision to be a Christian was a commitment that I made under my own volition, erasing any preconceived notions from my past, starting fresh in my commitment to my faith.

These decisions, however they may be construed, are what define me. Being a fraternity man, while considered by some taboo and others the norm, is part of what defines me. Being a Christian, while taboo to some and the norm to others, is another element of that definition. Through my actions, I have begun to define myself and, in that definition, I have found something to be true. Through these decisions, these commitments, these pledges, I have become what I am meant to be, go where I am supposed to go. I have uncovered what I am, and I know that no matter where I end up, I have done so for a reason. I have found my way.