Student stays connected to Christian faith through quarantine

Through the global struggle with COVID-19, I have found that my faith in Jesus Christ is important. In times of crisis, religion — to me — is the key to my peace of mind and reassures all the future holds. In this time of unknown, my faith allows for me to stay calm and remember that this too shall pass. My religious practices and dedication to the Christian faith has provided a sense of normalcy and sanity through these unpredictable times. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, my traditional means of religion have been put on hold, and I am choosing to focus on alternative options. My overabundance of free time has granted me the opportunity to dive deeper into God’s word and strengthen my relationship with my lord and savior.  

My initial fear with all that has gone down in the past several weeks was how it would affect my religion. I was worried that I would be disconnected from my Christain community and that my faith journey would run in reverse. I have made it a priority to prevent this from happening, and I wanted to share all the ways I am keeping up with my faith.  

1. Sitting Down with a Bible

My first one is probably the most common, but sitting down and diving into the Word is harder than it seems. I find that whenever I sit down with my Bible, it turns into time to explore my phone, practice calligraphy in the margin or distract myself with my own internal dialogue. It takes a lot to be able to shut my phone off and sit down with my Bible for more than 30 minutes, and very rarely do I focus on making connections with the scriptures presented to me. I often forget that this book is not a regular book. It may sit on my nightstand like one, but I believe it to be a testament of time; This book is also far superior to any other book in my house. Now that I have so much free time, I have the opportunity to focus on the word and come to conclusions for myself rather than agreeing with everyone else’s. I notice myself commenting about every other verse, as well as pondering how I could apply this newfound wisdom to my life. I understand why everyone says to read the Bible; I should make time for the Bible because it makes time for me. I sit down every afternoon and set a goal for myself to read 5 chapters. But I am always so intrigued that I cannot help but continue to read more. If no one in your life is telling you to dive straight into the Word, I hope this call suffices. 

2. REAP Journal

REAP is a specific method for studying the Bible; REAP stands for read, evaluate, apply and pray. I started my REAP journal with my Bible study back in January, and I have found myself continuing to work through the verses. The book is broken up into weeks, each week has a theme, some of which include narrative, poetry, gospels and epistles. Finally the weeks are then broken into days, each with a piece of scripture ranging in length, followed by questions about the literal text and the overall message. The book is interactive and gives the owner room to jot ideas and space to answer the provided questions. When I started this book, I was studying these verses with a spiritual advisor, yet I decided I enjoy completing the book by myself. My REAP journal is called “REAP An Introduction” written by Erin Feldman. 

3. Search Bible Verses

As all Christains with a busy life know, getting yourself to sit down and read the Bible is probably the hardest part of reading scriptures. This method is simple: type into a Google search engine “Bible verses about … ” then I look through a bunch of websites or images. I learned this method from a friend, and this method makes the Bible pill a little easier to swallow. I typically do this when I am in the car or on the go, and it allows for me to think about my faith wherever I am. Whenever I find a Bible verse I am a fan of, I typically go down a rabbit hole of Bible verses, or I find the verse in my Bible out of pure interest, so I have more context. I wouldn’t consider this method ideal, but it allows for me to think about my faith and find new favorite verses. I also follow several daily Bible verse accounts on social media, so when I am scrolling through Instagram, I am reminded that I need to pray or put my phone down for a couple of hours.

4. Upholding the Fruits of the Spirit

This one may seem like an odd way to help maintain and build a healthy relationship with Christ. The fruits of the spirit are a basic way of life, and they somewhat create a motto for all Christians to live by. The fruits of the Spirit reference the a Bible verse from Galatians, in Galatians 5:22-23, which states that the fruits of the Spirit are named to be , “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These nine characteristics are important to the Christian life because these are the ethical guidelines the Spirit calls us to live by. Through the fruits, we can build a relationship with Christ and eternal life. As Christains, we are called to love, we are called to have patience, we are called to be gentle and we are also called to maintain the other six fruits. COVID-19 has proven to be a difficult time, especially when most of us are all stuck at home with family members as our sole form of human contact. The fruits are used to keep people grounded in everyday life, so that all faithful Christains — high school students or not — can practice their faith by sustaining these beliefs.

4. Find an Online Community 

I have found that having a community of Christains helps me to devote myself to my faith. My church community counts on me, and I count on them, and I personally believe that these relationships need to be continued through COVID-19. I attend weekly Zoom meetings with Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church’s group called Signulls (https://westlakefeatherduster.com/2020/05/05/youth-group-dynamic-shifts-to-online-base/). There are several other organizations that have continued to meet in alternative ways, like Westlake Young Life.  Young Life is a national Christian ministry that works with school districts as an extracurricular activity to bring students together on a weekly basis for faith purposes. Another group that continues to meet is Westlake Fellowship of Christain Athletes. FCA is an international Christian sports ministry organization that works with the school and students, therefore any Westlake student can be involved. These groups have been meeting through Zoom with a mix of other social media challenges, games and forms of worship. For more information about these organizations their Instagram handles are @whpc_signulls @westlakeyl, @wylclubtalks and @westlakefca. 

5. Connecting with an Online Devotional

I have been working through an online devotional offered by my home church WHPC called “5 Minute Church.” A devotional is a practice which includes planned readings for each day one is participating. WHPC’s devotional is led by a high school student or spiritual advisor associated with the church; these videos have been posted on Instagram every Friday for anyone to watch. Young Life is reading scriptures every Wednesday night on Instagram Lives and Instagram TV, ranging from a couple to 15 minutes. This is another way for teenage Christains to stay involved and help strengthen their faith. 

When a storm hits, trees have roots and animals have shelter; if we are considering COVID-19 a storm, my religious practices are helping me stay sane. I feel that the world is full of unknowns and our reality is extremely stressful. I have a place to release this stress because I firmly believe that my God is good and that he has a plan. I hope everyone is happy and healthy and finds some sanity in this stressful time. In this story I hope that I have somehow helped you connect with God or inspired you to do so.