Erika’s View of Faith

I received a telephone call from my granddaughter on June 4, asking me if I would like to hear a speech that she had written. She planned to present it at church the next day. I am curious if you will have the same response as I did. It reads:


What is Faith?

By Erika Waalkes, Age 15

For me, “Faith” is a very complex word. For many people this is the word they live by, and for others it is not even part of their life.

When I looked up faith in the dictionary, one of the definitions was, “any set of firmly held principles or beliefs.” This can mean so many different things. It can refer to religion, what you believe, or it can simply be how you live your life.

For me personally, I see faith as how I journey through life and my values; being a good person, helping others, and working hard to achieve my dreams. In other words, I try to live by the golden rule. Treating others how I want them to treat me. I think this is a rule everyone should live by.

Ironically, the golden rule is found in all major religions, just in different words. In Buddhism it is, “hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” In Hinduism it is, “this is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.” And what I appreciate about these words is that growing up and going to All Souls Church, I have learned that these are powerful words of wisdom. If everyone lived by them, the world would be at peace.

For many people, their faith is dependent on their belief in a higher power than themselves. They worship and pray to this God or Gods. Living in west Michigan, I have been asked many times about my religion. Depending on who the person is, I’ll explain what I believe and what kind of church I go to. After describing my faith, I am often asked, “Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” I’ll say, “No, but I respect what you believe.” Normally, I’m criticized for what I believe, and the person tries to save me. I wonder why? If I respect and honor what they believe, why can’t they afford to do the same for me?

Many people who believe in God say that it helps them to be a good person; it gives them comfort in their journey through life. I respect this. However, at this point in time, I don’t believe in God or any higher power.

For me growing up as a Unitarian/Universalist has significantly influenced my life. I think that learning the “Seven (7) Principles” has made me a better person. It has taught me that if you are kind to everyone, life will be so much more enjoyable. It has also helped me in school. In seventh grade, my history teacher handed out a quiz on Buddhism. I was the only student to receive an A. I am sure that was because I had learned about all the major religions in church.

Being a part of the “Coming of Age” program, I have learned more about Unitarian Universalism. I have many good memories, and I have improved my public speaking. I look forward to taking the skills that I have learned through this program, and applying them throughout my life. I have also discovered what “faith” means to me, and how I apply it to my life. I ask that when you go home, to think about if faith is part of your life. If so, what does it mean to you? How does it guide your life?

Comments

  1. Bob Rogers says:

    Erika,

    You illuminated so clearly our view of faith as well as your own. You have found a strong basis for rational spirituality at a young age. Thank your parents and your church, and be proud of your ability to think clearly about complex issues. Live your belief proudly, but quietly, and others will respect you.

    Your writing is wonderful. You have a talent for clear communication, uncommon in adults, and especially young people.

    We are proud to know you and be able to watch you grow into the wonderful woman you are destined to become.

    Bob and Claire

  2. Diane Davies says:

    Erika,

    I am sure your presention on Sunday was eloquent and admirably delivered.

    Your article was most insightful and most articulate.

    Kudoos to you for your many successes this year.

    You are Golden !!!

    Diane & Larry




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