Personal Column: Why I Chose Religion

This+photo+depicts+Nayana+Celine+Xavier+getting+confirmed+on+her+First+Holy+Communion+and+Confirmation+day.+Communion+and+Confirmation+mark+an+individual%27s+acceptance+of+Christianity%2C+a+religion+that+offers+a+sense+of+strength+and+guidance+in+Celine+Xavier%27s+life.++

This photo depicts Nayana Celine Xavier getting confirmed on her First Holy Communion and Confirmation day. Communion and Confirmation mark an individual's acceptance of Christianity, a religion that offers a sense of strength and guidance in Celine Xavier's life.

Nayana Celine Xavier

My entire life, there has been nothing I’ve ever desired more than success. Success in my education, in a career, in my personal life and in my social circles. Perhaps this desire stems from the boundless dreams of my immigrant parents, inadvertently hovering over me. I became obsessed with this idea of purpose. What is my purpose, the meaning of my life? Who am I supposed to become, and what am I supposed to do with the time I have been given on Earth? I desired the answers to my questions, to understand how I fit into the puzzle of existence. 

Early on, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t easily find the answers to all the questions that crowded my mind. The optical illusion of the future that awaited left me exasperated and sullen. I feared the unknown. I felt like I was drowning in the vast expanse of my questions, and as I struggled to stay afloat in an ocean of worries, I reached out for a safety ring. Steadily, a force pulled me ashore, offering a sense of assurance. Some call this force Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Zoroaster or simply the universe. I call it God. 

I characterize God as an impalpable being, seeing and hearing all things. I follow a conflation of religion and spirituality, but I also follow the teachings of science and believe in the theory of evolution. One may wonder why I need religion when I have scientific reasoning on my side. Science can’t offer me moral support or emotional stability in the same way religion can. When I am faced with insurmountable obstacles that are seemingly impossible to overcome, ones that science dictates to be unreasonable, I turn to my faith. I turn to prayer, repeating words that invigorate me with a feeling of tranquility while encompassing me with warmth. It’s nice to know that I am never truly alone in this world, that no matter the situation, I will always have someone, something to turn to. The knowledge that I will survive every situation empowers me with the valor to push forward and continue my journey. Religion is a pillar of strength, saving me from the ashes of my mistakes and failures, my guiding light in the darkness of the day. Above all, religion gives me hope, the greatest force that pushes our world forward. 

So if faith is supposed to protect us, why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a question that both pulls and drives people away from religion.  Earlier this year, my first Holy Communion and Sunday school teacher passed away from cancer. Her life was a composition of obstacles and suffering. She lost her husband a few years back, and two years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Without any family in America or children to look after her, she was forced to attend chemotherapy by herself, work a full-time job, pay the bills and battle cancer on her own. So why did she have to suffer? What did she do to deserve a life plagued by hardships? Nothing. She did nothing wrong. She was filled with righteousness, dedicating her life to helping others. The part I couldn’t initially comprehend, is when she lost her husband and when she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t stop praying or believing in God. Instead, her inexhaustible trust and faith in God kept her going. While she proclaimed her faith, I began to doubt mine, wondering how God could be so cruel. I felt myself getting pushed back into the endless cycle of my questions. But everything changed this past October when she passed away. 

Near the end of her life, I saw her find peace, and there was a certain brightness to her. She was happy, and she didn’t fear death; in fact, she welcomed it. Her profound courage surprised me. She held firmly to the belief that she wouldn’t end with life, that she would reach heaven after death. I believe that our story doesn’t end with life, and that there is an epilogue after death and a time when we are judged for our actions during life and rewarded accordingly. My credence in the day of judgement prompts me to make good decisions. I don’t have a concrete answer for why certain things happen in life, and I don’t think I will ever find it either. But I do know that everything serves as a catalyst for change; there is a reason for our successes and failures. There is a greater plan that my human mind cannot comprehend, and I accept that. I’m okay with not knowing all the answers, or where I fit in the puzzle of existence. I don’t know the entire purpose of my life, but at this exact moment, my purpose is to reach you, my reader. Religion will always be a part of our society, whether we want it to be or not. When our world loses itself in chaos, to the headlines of corruption and malice, we need something that tethers it back to virtue: a power that reminds us to never succumb to the darkness. It’s why I chose religion