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My faith has always been something that defined me. I was raised in a conservative Catholic household to believe in traditional Christian values. As a child, you believe that your parents are the ones with all the answers. They’re the grownups, they’ve lived longer than you and they’re the ones responsible for your wellbeing. For a really long time, this was exactly how I felt.

It wasn’t until the 2016 election that I began to be exposed to different ideologies. People in my school became increasingly invested in the election, and I began asking questions and started forming my own opinions. It’s been hard—trying to find a middle ground between mine and my parents’ views. It’s also incredibly difficult to find a community where I fit in because although I truly love my faith, it’s hard for me to find people to relate to.

With the past election, a lot of my sentiments have been more salient than they have been in the past. This has led to so many heated conversations within my family and my childhood friend group. As I’ve met more people in college, I realize that so many people feel almost the exact same way as me. It’s hard to divorce yourself from your upbringing once you start forming your own views on the things happening around you, but the only thing you can do is learn to stay true to what you believe and not let anyone tell you that you can’t be two things at once.

At its core, at least in the way I see it, being Christian is about loving others no matter what that entails. I don’t mean this in a way that suggests that you should love others despite their perceived ‘flaws’ in the eyes of religion, but love and respect those who are brave enough to be who they are and those who are strong enough to make decisions for their lives that they feel are best. For a while, this was a difficult concept for me to grasp, seeing as the phrase “love the sinner, not the sin” was engraved in my brain. As I grew up, though, I realized that the world is so much more complicated than that. This is not to say that those who adhere to traditional Christian values are wrong, but rather that the values that we’re taught are not entirely written in stone, and we should be open to a change in mindset.

Faith is so much more than just a set of rules created thousands of years ago. It’s about believing that there is something bigger than us that exists to keep us balanced. Reconciling my Christian views with my liberal ones has been incredibly hard. There is a huge dissonance in the way that I feel about the world and the things that I am still being taught. It’s incredibly hard to find my place, as I’m sure many others experience, but as I grow, I am learning to form my own community where others feel the same way I do.

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My name is Paola Gonzalez, I’m a senior at FSU majoring in Political Science and Psychology. Some things i am passionate about is racial justice, acceptance, mental health awareness and political involvement! :)
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