Diving into Interfaith
The first experience with faith that I can remember was when I was around 7 years old. My family drove down to Georgia to stay with my grandparents for a week and my very Christian aunty saw it as the perfect opportunity to take me to church. I got all ready and was put in the most uncomfortable dress imaginable. When we arrived and I was taken to the youth group, the youth pastor placed a bible in front of me and I began crying nonstop until I was taken back to the main service with my aunt. Now, a child crying nonstop for an unknown reason would confuse anybody but I remember being laughed at when I stated why I was crying. Yes, I was indeed crying because I thought I was going to have to read the entire bible right there and then. As you can imagine, after that I tried my hardest to avoid church at all costs.
Flash forward over half a decade and I decided to give church another chance. It was my freshman year of high school and my family always made it a priority to go to church and take my brother and I to youth group. Everything was going fine until we (especially myself) were beginning to face a plethora of microaggressions. Right before youth group sessions, the youth pastor would always ask if we had something we wanted the group to pray about. Being this was the time when the Black Lives Matter movement was prominent, I asked for us to pray over them. The very next session they hosted a skit called “clown lives matter” making a joke out of the movement. This was the beginning of many uninviting, racist, and sexist occurrences. To make a very long story short, my family and I felt like the best thing for our mental health and wellbeing was to leave that church for good. Because the time there was so draining, that was my last experience with faith of any kind until college. I was very hurt that a place meant to feel safe and like home had twisted the words intended to be loving and inviting in order to fit a negative agenda.
Now in college, I vividly remember when the applications for the alternative spring break trips opened up. My mom had sent me the link for each trip and I was automatically drawn to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I decided to research more into the Reservation and knew immediately it was what I wanted to do. Now, what scared me was the word “interfaith.” Right off the bat I assumed interfaith was a nice way of saying converting. The fear that went through my mind thinking this trip was going to be pushing our beliefs onto others with a rich culture and belief system of their own, I was terrified. After looking more into interfaith and going through my interview with the trip, I was in such relief and all of my anxiety turned into excitement. Since then, I have learned more about the true meaning of interfaith, a continuous and intentional want to learn and interact with all world-views and traditions in order to gain a deeper understanding of one another. I am so happy to be a part of a group where we can learn about a variety of world-views, faiths, and belief systems together and we are able to take the knowledge we gain from this with us into the future be it in our careers and everyday lives!