Your Faith Life in College

In Virtual Faith:  the Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation X, Tom Beaudoin writes that more than half of younger people say they are “spiritual but not religious.”  They think about the ultimate questions of life, but they are not involved in a faith community.

Now that you are at Drury, why should you pay attention to your spiritual life?

  1. College life can be tough.  Faith helps us endure.  In Romans Paul writes, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  Spending time drawing from the resources of our sacred traditions can give us much needed perspective.
  2. College life can be confusing.  Faith helps us integrate the old with the new.  James Fowler is the author ofStages of Faith.  As he argues, in each stage of life we develop a different view of our core values and beliefs.  When we are young adults, we often start to “individuate.”  That is, we take the faith tradition of our parent(s) and we begin to ask a question:  “Which part will we continue to affirm and which part will we modify?”  If we take that question seriously, we will begin to merge the old and the new.  That merging may take years, but the effort will be worth the work.  It is a journey of the soul that will help us become more integrated people.  As a result, we will be able to spend less time focusing anxiously on ourselves and more time connecting in life-giving ways with others.
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  4. College life can be complicated.  Faith helps us to simplify.  Sometimes the papers, the tests, the lab reports, designs, and studio projects are too much.  We get our circuits overloaded.  A faith perspective helps us to breathe, slow down, and remember what really matters.  The great spirituality writer Thomas Merton has a wonderful perspective.  “We do not live more fully merely by doing more, seeing more, tasting more and experiencing more than we ever have before.  On the contrary, some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience less than usual.” (No Man Is an Island)  Merton goes on to say that we often spend our lives trying to “be great” but we should consider rather trying to “be little.”  That is, we should try to be ourselves.  It is all God expects.  When we let go of perfectionistic ambitions and move in that direction of humility, life starts to reveal joy and peace.

May this academic year be a good one.  May it be a year when you find strength for the journey, an integration of the old and new which feeds your spirit, and a simple path which allows you to give the gifts which you are asked to give and no more.  That will be enough.  Peace be with you.

Peter Browning


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