Anyone can fall for myths about faith in university. I know I did. So what are the myths I fell for? I’ll give you the advantage of knowing them before you even set foot on campus.
Myth #1: Everyone at university knows the basics of Christianity and its value
This is what I assumed until I started to ask friends what they thought about Christianity. It came as a shock when I met professors and students who had radically different ideas of what Christianity was all about. Some were content to be quietly passive and only culturally Christian. Some were verbally opposed and outright offended by Christianity. Other students had no understanding or desire to know of Christianity at all. Most seemed to believe in themselves.
Both friends and professors challenged my faith by raising their doubts and reasons for not believing in Christianity. I was completely unprepared for this. To survive, I needed help in knowing how to respond to the challenges against my faith. Through the example and training of others, I learned I could weather any doubts against belief in God. These experiences deepened my reliance upon Jesus and refined my faith.
Myth #2: Nobody is interested in talking about spirituality
I fell so hard for this myth that I resisted telling any of my new friends in university about my faith at first. I was sure they wouldn’t want to hang out with me if I did. Without anyone saying it I knew talking about my faith was taboo. But it also seriously stunted my friendships. I wasn’t being honest about the most important part of me.
Not long after I got involved in Power to Change, a staff with Power to Change invited me to share my faith with one of my peers. Fear and dread came over me. I wanted to say no and avoid the embarrassment and rejection.
Ironically, I was too scared of that staff member to say no and didn’t want to let him down. With a couple of prayers, a pounding heart, a deep breath, and his initiative, we approached one of my classmates. As soon as we turned the conversation to spirituality I expected instant rejection, perhaps a mouthful of choice words telling us to get lost. I was so wrong. It was the most amazing spiritual conversation I had ever witnessed with a person who didn’t share my views.
I was surprised again and again by how many of my peers were willing to engage with me in discussion about spirituality. Some of my friends expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to discuss deeper spiritual topics. Had I kept believing this myth, it would have prevented me from having these amazing spiritual conversations.
It was amazing to discover how opening up about something deeply personal helped me reach a level of friendship that I never could have experienced otherwise. The degree of spiritual openness varied, but many of my peers were more open to talk than I was willing to take initiative.
Myth #3: The only way for my faith to survive is to keep quiet and keep my distance
I was intimidated by anyone who had strong beliefs or lifestyles that were different from mine. At times I felt tempted to compromise my faith. I was envious of the social acceptance of the party scene, attracted to the pleasure of sex and romance, and longed for the status of good grades. These were all areas that seemed to offer me my place on campus. But none of them worked for me. Perhaps my failures were the best thing for me.
Instead, I found my place in a thriving Christian community. It was there that I found a place of safety for growing my faith. Not only was I able to survive university with my faith in tact, I was able to face and resolve any doubts that my peers and the university environment brought against my faith. I had good reasons to believe.
In contrast to keeping my faith quiet and keeping my distance from peers who didn’t share my beliefs, a big part of finding my place at university was speaking up and helping my peers discover Jesus. I discovered that I could build deeper friendships as I shared my faith. God stretched my ability to respect and dialogue with people that disagreed with me.
Debunking myths with reality
The truth is:
- I don’t know where a friend is at in their faith journey unless I talk with them about it. When I don’t initiate spiritual conversations I have no idea what friends around me are thinking about Jesus. I can’t assume they know even the basics of Christianity or experience its value.
- More of my friends are open to talk about faith than I realize. I am amazed by how many of my friends, when given the opportunity, engage with me in thoughtful discussion about spirituality and Jesus.
- To keep my faith vibrant I need to initiate spiritual conversations and press into relationships with my friends who don’t share my faith or lifestyle. As much as it is a temptation to keep quiet or distance myself to preserve my faith, it is the worst thing for it. Journeying with friends who don’t yet know Jesus helps growth my faith.
Find help and courage to speak up about your faith
What helped me debunk these myths? I needed encouragement and tips to initiate spiritual conversations with friends. I learned so much from those who had more experience talking to their friends about Jesus. I looked to them to model and coach me in how to engage with my friends of different world views in meaningful discussion.
Don’t go it alone. Find help and courage to speak up about your faith in university.
Read more about NEXT, Power to Change’s initiative to help Grade 12s connect to a faith based community in college or university.