My Faith/Teen Faith Living Your Faith in the Everyday by Elizabeth Bayardi If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard the phrase, “be in the world but not of the world,” uttered as if it’s some sort of programmed response for the definition of discipleship. We nod, expressing our complete agreement: “Of course we should live in this world but not be of it.” Moments later, the ambiguity of the statement begins to sink in. Thoughts like, “What does it even mean to be in the world but not of it?” and “Can this seemingly abstract concept apply to my life in a concrete way?” begin to swirl around our minds. I have spent a great deal of time pondering these questions and while I certainly don’t have all of the answers, I’ve managed to piece together this vague puzzle in a way that allows me to live my faith in the everyday — the routine, unglamourous, and, at times, extraordinary — moments of life. Branch Out We are a people of routine. Our minds are programmed to identify and establish patterns. We find what works and we stick to it, and our faith life is no different. Oftentimes, when trying to live our faith in an increasingly secular and sensitive world, we find our “safe spaces.” These are the places we feel comfortable being unabashadley Christian, the places where we openly share our belief in Christ with others. Think youth group and the weekend Mass you attend, as these are our most common safe spaces. While these communities are important — they help us grow in our faith and pursuit of heaven — we should not limit ourselves; we need to branch out and find God in all things. Think about all of the places you go on a regular basis: school, job, gym, grocery store (preferably a farmer’s market… #shoplocal), trendy coffee shop (not a chain, obviously), mall (people still go to a store to shop, right?), favorite sandwich shop (I’m partial to sandwiches, but feel free to sub in your go-to restaurant). Now think about all of the people you interact with: classmates, coworkers, cashiers, hipster coffee drinkers, random strangers. The reality is that you spend most of your time outside of your church community, interacting with people who may or may not belong to the same religion. So, how do you — a faithful disciple of Christ — share your faith in these places, with these people? Actions Speak Louder Than Words There are certainly instances when you should tell people about Christ — about His sacrifice on the cross and unceasing love for us. However, what should you do in those moments when this isn’t the most ideal way to share the Gospel? Say, for instance, during an interaction with the hipster drinking a triple, venti, soy, no foam latte at the trendiest coffee shop you stumbled upon. While you could give your spiel about the time you first encountered the love of God and how this love has completely transformed your life in more ways than you ever imagined, approaching a conversation in this manner — diving into a truly personal topic without an existing relationship or understanding of love between yourself and the stranger — is not the most effective way to evangelize. I mean, put yourself in their shoes. How would you react if a total stranger interrupted your cherished coffee time with their long-winded life story? In this situation, it’s probably better to let your actions speak for themselves: hold the door for them, ask them how their day is going and truly listen to them when they respond, pay for their coffee, perform some other act of kindness, build a relationship with them. Although you aren’t explicitly stating your belief in Christ, your thoughtfulness is a reflection of Him and, hopefully, will inspire a chain reaction of sorts where kindness is passed on from one person to the next. In some cases, it may allow for conversation and present an opportunity for you to share what (your faith) and who (Christ) inspire you to live the way you do. Ultimately, the way you love and live your faith should fascinate those you come in contact with, so much so that they can’t help but ask, “What is this all about?” Take advantage of these opportunities, but don’t force them. Remember, you don’t have to be overtly Christian to spread the Gospel. Scripture Inspiration If you still aren’t convinced that your actions are just as — if not more — important as your words, turn to Scripture. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). We need to treat others with compassion. We need to be patient. We need to let go of our pride and embrace humility. We need to let go of grudges and offer forgiveness. In both word and deed, we need to reflect Christ. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). We need to bring Christ’s light — His goodness, truth, and love — to a world that is seemingly overcome by darkness. We do this, most notably, through our actions — through the way we treat those in our safe spaces as well as those in our everyday life. So, be a light. Be a person who shares the Gospel with those who may not otherwise witness it. Let your actions lead others to the redeeming love of Christ.