Your spiritual beliefs?
I've been an observant Jew my whole life. My family and I observe many Jewish holidays, our meals follow Kosher guidelines, and we regularly attend a "modern Orthodox" shul or synagogue.
My Judaism is a foundation for my whole life, and two beliefs are especially important to help me be the person I want to be. The concept of the yetzer hara versus the yetzer hatov says that each of us struggles with our good impulses and our bad impulses. I remind myself of this when I'm in a conflict and figuring out what's right and what's wrong.
As I go about daily life, I also think about tikkun olam or "repair of the world." As human beings, we all share a responsibility to make the world a better place. Doing tikkun olam can mean anything from being part of world-changing movements to simply helping someone or welcoming someone new to your school.
I love our weekly observance of Sabbath or Shabbat. Every Friday night at sundown to dark Saturday night, we stop doing things such as work and using electricity, and we walk instead of driving. Life can get crazy, and having a built-in weekly time to pause, breathe, and reconnect--with family, spirituality, nature, with myself--helps keep me from getting too overwhelmed and stressed. And our rituals such as lighting candles and saying blessings over wine and grape juice uplift me with their beauty.
--Sarah, 16, Michigan
I was raised Christian. My family and I are non-denominational Christians. We believe that Jesus died on a cross so that we could be saved from our sins, or what we've done wrong. But He didn't just die; he was raised from the dead on the third day, and that's what makes it possible for us to get to heaven. I go to a youth group on Wednesdays, and church on Sundays.
My beliefs help me be who I am and want to be because I know that God perfectly accepts me for who I am. But that doesn't mean He wants me to stay that way. I'm constantly trying to change and become more like Him: more loving, patient, faithful, and compassionate. My Christianity helps me because I know that no matter what I'm going through, God has never left my side and never will.
I know that He has a plan and that I should follow Him in whatever I do because he knows what's best for me. Even when I'm having a hard time, I know that God is working, and I've seen Him work in certain situations before.
I like to spend time with God each day, because it helps me as I go throughout my day. I read my Bible every night, and I'll highlight verses that inspire me and write down things that come to mind from them. Every morning I send a verse to others I know so I can share my inspiration with them. I pray every day--it's a really good way for me to connect with God. For me, it's just like having conversations with good friends and growing closer to them because of the talks. It's the same way with God!
--Paige, 13, Pennsylvania, left with her dog Tank
Religion has never really been a big part of my life. As a child, we celebrated Christmas and Easter like so many others who are loosely Christian. These holidays feel more like a time for friends and family than a religious celebration. In the last few years, we've also celebrated Jewish Passover and pagan holidays such as solstice.
I believe that having a greater power (or god) can give a humbleness to one's life that may be important, and that god gives reassurance to many people. I consider myself agnostic, meaning I don't know if there is a god, and that I believe there is no way to tell.
I don't believe in Jesus, but I think he was real and probably a great guy. He was trying to spread the word about love. I have conflicts about some Christian ideas. For example, I think every good person should go to heaven, not just the "believers in Christ." I also hate the idea that we are born with sin, and that we are miserable offenders.
I'm really interested in other religions and think of myself as a xenophile, which means I love things and people who are different than myself. I want to learn more about the culture and practices of non-Christian religions. I really love talking in NMG's online community about beliefs and learning more about other people's religions. The world would be a better place if everyone listened to and understood the beliefs of others.
--Maeve, 13, Pennsylvania
See what these girls say about matters spiritual. What do you think?
How we talk about beliefs
Girls in our online community like to discuss big beliefs (and many other topics!). Here's a sampling from some recent friendly and open conversations. I consider myself Pagan. I celebrate the seasons and the light. Every living thing has a spirit, and I strive to protect, preserve, and respect my natural surroundings and world... Some of evolution was on its own, but God also helped out along the way ... My life has plenty of purpose, with or without religion. We create our own purpose by doing good and creating things... I'm a Christian, but we don't have an official church. Our family can just be at peace individually with our own relationships with the Father... I pray, mostly to just get things out and to ask someone to make things better for those who need help... I'm Christian, but I don't like some Christians who criticize me because I listen to rock, wear dark clothing, and look emo ... Our family is Jewish. I think when the Big Bang occurred, the Earth came along, but also God was created during this collision... There are many good things about Christianity, but it isn't perfect (no religion is). I think of myself as a freethinker.
As humans, we like to celebrate big life events. A birth, coming of age as a teen, and marriages are often marked with a religious ceremony. If you and your family aren't part of a faith community, you can celebrate your way--including at Christmas and Easter times. Here are a few tips from Mary Morse, author of Wonderful Without Religion.
*To welcome a new baby, gather at a spot special to the family to sing and snuggle and pledge to be part of a community of care for baby and family.
*Instead of a religious confirmation, the teen teams with parents to outline privileges and responsibilities for emerging adulthood. Follow with a party to present the nearly grown-up! See p. 18 for ways to celebrate a girl's first period, too.
*Keep the fancy clothes, flowers, food, and cake if you'd like, but instead of promising a deity to stay together, ask guests to offer their time-honored wisdom for growing a good relationship.
*Centuries ago, Christians moved the date of Jesus' birth to coincide with pagan solstice, so salute the sun's journey with candles and trees and revelry aplenty. Similarly, Easter's date linked with popular spring fertility rites, so greet spring with eggs and sweets to celebrate Earth's bounty.
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|Publication:||New Moon Girls|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2017|
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