Although I can say I have been a Christian since I was born it’s not technically true because no one can be born a Christian but rather a person chooses to become one. It was a serious life decision I made at the age of twelve to become a Seventh Day Adventist Christian. To date, it is the ‘university experience’ that has tested my faith and my commitment to my God and beliefs the most. However, even though being a Seventh Day Adventist at university has been a challenging journey it has been a very rewarding one.
When I first came to university I remember sticking out like a sore thumb in my lifestyle and beliefs. The fresher’s week period, (which was known for the wild parties, late nights, clubbing and lots of drinking), was a pivotal time in my life. I was caught between two cross roads, one road was the wide easy road of compromise and the other, whilst the narrow rocky road meant no compromise.
However it was before this point that I had decided which road I was going to take. This decision was not only a decision about the fresher’s experience, but my whole university experience for the time I would be there. I made the decision not to compromise but to stay steady in what I believed.
Since this period I have made many decisions in which I have come across controversy. These decisions included ones of principle, such as not drinking or clubbing as well as ensuring I maintained a healthy lifestyle. Other decisions were ones pertaining to intellect on topics such as evolution and the origins of man. I also decided to keep the seventh day as Sabbath, by abstaining from work whether it was from university or my own personal work. This subsequently meant that I would miss some lectures or have to swap laboratory class groups, and this was definitely not always easy!
As you can imagine many of these decisions were not the most popular among my peers -even my teachers! However these challenges made me so much stronger in my faith.
When people realised I was different, I received a wave of questions from every angle. This challenged me to go back and research why I did what I did. It challenged me to always have an answer ready for what I believed and every time I was blessed with an opportunity to share my beliefs it grounded them even more in my heart and mind. I can honestly say the ‘university experience’ has enabled me to feel the presence of God in my life more closely than I ever did before. I know it has been essential to my spiritual growth and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to come into such an environment where I can meet young people from all over the country and world with different cultures and beliefs.
It may feel as if university is not the place for you (whether you have religious beliefs or not), and you can feel as if you are likely to lose yourself. It can also be hard when you realise that what you are learning doesn’t actually agree with your beliefs (which unfortunately can be the case for many of us including myself). Sometimes my course (MPharmacy) teaches concepts which I do not directly agree with and which I have to learn and understand. However even though I don’t agree with these concepts I know they make me a more rounded person: someone who is open to different points of views and ideas.
I have discovered university to be one of the best places to truly understand who you are. My specific advice to anyone who can relate to this article no matter your background would be: not to worry about being questioned, and don’t be afraid to learn something new, but always practice tolerance and kindness. Don’t live life in blind faith but go and study the reason behind your beliefs, for yourself, but most importantly enjoy the experience! Make the best of every moment, after all we are only given one shot at this life …
By guest writer, Nomsa Praise Mpofu.
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