Describe a setting in which you have collaborated or interacted with people whose experiences and/or beliefs differ from yours. Address your initial feelings, and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.
I remember the first Tuesday I stepped into the hall of the church. The raucous noise of children playing was quickly quieted by Jake, our youth group leader, as he led fifty teenagers in solemn prayer. As everyone bowed their heads to pray, I could fell my skin crawl. Discomfort overwhelmed me. Although I had been to church almost every Sunday of my life, I had never been anything but sedentary in my faith. I hardly even believed, and I was surrounded by vehement believers.
As I continued to come to youth group, I realized that many of my religious ideas did not line up with the traditional Christian doctrines. I grew increasingly frustrated with my confusion during our lessons. My brain swirled with what I was supposed to believe as a Christian and what my heart told me was right. Once during our small group, our leaders began to bring up some of the sins teenagers face most. Among the list were homosexuality, premarital sex, and disobedience. As I listened to my leaders quote the Paul and James denouncing these sins in the Bible, I felt anger bubbling inside of me. Why is homosexuality wrong? How can it be, when it is just another type of love? Why are these things considered sins? Something in my soul caused a ferocity I couldn’t place. Leaving youth group with my unexpressed anger tucked deep inside me, I decided I should try to answer my tumultuous questions about my beliefs.
That night I lay awake scouring the Bible, rereading the verses my leaders had highlighted until I found the actual words of Jesus. In the book of John, Jesus gives a new commandment, one above the ten given to Moses. One which says: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” I’d found my ultimate answer. It doesn’t matter which sins you commit, what religion you believe. Even if I didn’t believe in all these Christian rules and caveats, I knew I believed in the words of Jesus.
The next Tuesday I went into my small group with my Bible verse. As I shared those words with all the believers so firm in their faith, I felt a release of frustration. I realized that it didn’t matter whether the rest of my youth group changed their minds on gay marriage or sin; the only thing that really mattered was that I was able to speak my mind and be content with my own beliefs.