Bearcats turn to religion to guide them through the dark hours
When the darkness gets so thick that it’s not possible to find their way out on their own- from relationships, addiction, and depression- many people will turn to a higher power to give them a guiding light through the shadows life casts. Religion can serve as a way to escape the whirlwind of the trials and tribulations that life can present, as the burdens of everyday can often be too much to shoulder alone. Faith can provide new hope through troubling times, especially for junior Nadeene Al Azzam, whose faith helped get her through her own tragedy, the death of her grandfather.
“He was a follower of Islam and… he was a hard believer of the one God. (He) was a big impact and affected me because religion is a big aspect of my lifestyle and just staying in that type of environment and (to) keep preaching the same religion that he believed; it just kind of gave me peace and relief I needed to bear with his passing,” said Al Azzam, who prays weekly, usually with her family.
Today, roughly 26 percent of Americans ages 18-29 claim no religious affiliation, an increase of 23 percent since 1960, according to civicyouth.org. With many people turning away from religion, the perception of faith’s value is diminishing in young people’s eyes. However, there is a power in religion that goes beyond human understanding and capabilities that a few call their light.
One of the greatest lights that religion presents is the light of love. It is the core tenet of faith and the identity of God. At their core, humans crave this sense of belonging and love. For many, religion provides that community and affection they desire. Many faiths promise an unconditional love that will find believers where they stand, and not demand that they transform to earn it. Love glows in even the darkest corners of life they never want mentioned, and for many knowing that love is unchanging and will never fade is a comfort in the worst of times.
This is a familiar topic for sophomore Hattie Dunn, who experienced the power of this love first hand when she was struggling with self harm and suicidal thoughts.
“One day I finally just was so tired of not being okay that I just let it go. I prayed to God asking for his mercy and love. Since then it’s been all light and only a few gray areas,” said Dunn, who has been a Christian for five years but dealt with depression from sixth grade until her freshman year, when she gave her pain up to God.
Religion is more than a doctrine or set of rules regarding how to achieve salvation. It can be a salvation here on Earth, and not just in the afterlife. For those who are facing darkness, Dunn believes that religion can be your light.
“God will always love you and you need to know you are worth it.” Dunn said.