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Choosing to Identify as a Christian By Zoe Haub

With the whirl of the world and the possibility of being criticized, it makes sense why young people wouldn’t want to identify themselves as a Christian. Most teenagers and young adults want to fly under the radar and not bring much attention to themselves. Being Christian is quite the opposite. As Christians we are called to spread the word of God and stand firm in our beliefs, even when criticized. Why do young people want to go unnoticed?

One of the major things that I took from the summer camp I went through during middle school and implemented in my life was the idea of wearing a “cool jacket”.

You may be asking yourself what a “cool jacket” is, and to put it simply, a “cool jacket” is a protective layer that masks a person’s internal thoughts and desires. Everyone wears a cool jacket in at least one aspect of their lives, whether that be with their friends or family. While the cool jacket can be comfortable, living life under its protection can hamper one in growing as a person, but more importantly in cultivating their relationship with God.

How can someone learn to live without their cool jacket? Well the first step, more like a leap, is willingness to be vulnerable with themselves and others. Taking off the jacket comes after acceptance of one’s self. Slowly becoming comfortable with others and speaking with intention, instead of staying silent or saying meaningless phrases to impress others. Prayer helps ease one into becoming comfortable in their skin and gaining confidence. An example of this would be choosing to sit in the front row at mass, not being embarrassed to kneel in front of their peers, singing loudly, or expressing up for your beliefs in a group setting, like standing firm in being pro-life in a room filled with pro-choice supporters.

But what is the best way to pray? The short answer is there’s not. Prayer can be in any form; my personal favorites are thinking out loud and singing wholesome music. Thinking out loud spills all internal desires out on the table. It is like a phone call with a friend, but you are the only one speaking at first. After pouring your thoughts out on the table, God’s answers will come to the surface and shed a new light on the problems at hand. Other forms of prayer to try are meditating on the rosary and verbally praying during announcements, instead of whispering quietly to yourself. Our community supports prayer through adoration and having penance services throughout the year. If you ever have questions, don't be afraid to ask a teacher in the religion department! Standing out and being unapologetically yourself is more important than the fear of judgement. One of my favorite quotes is “those you mind don’t matter and those you matter don’t mind.” Remove your cool jacket, take control of your life, and care less about others’ negative thoughts.

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