It was my first semester of my freshman year and I was sitting in history class at a table with two guys I didn't know. One, a new kid from a private Christian school, and the other a guy who wouldn't stop talking about the overtly religious tattoos he planned on getting that summer.
Christianity was never something I thought a lot about until two years later, when I fell in love with the guy from Columbia County Christian School and the person who would become my best friend finally got his favorite verse tattooed on his arm.
It occurred to me suddenly that two of the most influential people in my life acted upon views, morals and beliefs that I had never considered.
Religion is not like fashion or taste in music. Religion is not the way you like your coffee or your favorite book. For many people, religion is in every breath and every action. While I questioned my own beliefs, I wondered how those I loved could include me in their future, or how I could include them, when there is one major flaw: They know how they feel, but I am less sure of my feelings.
If I were cliché I would say that I ran to my nearest Bible and happened upon a passage that helped me find God, while simultaneously providing me with an Instagram caption. (By the way, Corinthians 13:4-8 as well as Jeremiah 29:11 are great options for that).
This is not how it worked for me, however, and if for some reason you experienced something similar to the scenario above, ignore all the advice that precedes this, quit your job, and promptly call the 700 Club.
If you're looking to pursue a relationship with someone who is confident in their spiritual beliefs while you are still confused about the difference between a pastor and a priest, there are some simple steps you can take to build a healthy bond with your partner or friend, while still holding a unique perspective on the world.
First and foremost, ensure that you are, above everything else, capable of genuine respect and acceptance. Accept what they believe, and respect it. There are going to be times when you are going to want to argue. Don't. Listen instead. Show them that you care about the way their mind works.
The next step is to be supportive. Go to church. Pray with their family at dinner. This is the easy part. When they want to talk about God — trust me, they will — be present. Let their words soak into your skin like dirt in a heavy rain. During this stage, understand how important this is to them. These things might make you uncomfortable, and that's OK. You're going to find, more often than not, that you grow the most in disagreeable situations.
Initially you will discover you are doing these things because you love the person. But to love someone, you need to love the things that make them who they are. Soon afterward, you may find that the idea of being religious is compelling. If this is the case, sit with that. Think about your morals. Think about your future. Think about what you want your children — or future children — to believe.
Finally, be confident, in whatever you feel. Remember that the reason you showed them acceptance and respect was because of how they presented themselves. I promise, any reasonable person will return this notion of kindness.
It's essential throughout this process for you to remember that the thing that differentiates you and your friend, or you and your significant other, is just a small sliver of who you are. There are going to be moments when you question the worth and importance of your gestures toward them.
In these moments of adversity, relish the fact you have found someone so significant that you are questioning the very fiber of your being.
Ciara Dreeszen is a junior at Scappoose High School, where she focuses on journalism and creative writing. She plans to attend Oregon State University after graduation to pursue a career as an English teacher. Dreeszen swims for the Scappoose High School and Sea Lions swim teams, and also works as a lifeguard
at Eisenschmidt Pool in St. Helens.