Article written by: Alicia, a youth minister in the Eparchy of Edmonton.
From your question, it isn’t clear whether your parents are of a different Christian faith or another religious faith or are not religious at all. I am going to assume that they do not practice faith at all.
For Christians, faith is not just what we believe, it is who we are. Our faith provides us a way to live our lives, so it can be challenging when family members, especially our parents who have always helped guide our life path, are not interested in faith and therefore live life differently. This is a complex situation that may have lifelong challenges, but along the way try to keep these things in mind:
1. Celebrate your faith.
Take heart that you have found faith in God. Welcome to the Church, a community of imperfect people that are unique in their gifts and are striving to live holy lives. There are challenges to living a life of faith, but there are also incredible rewards!
Your faith journey is part of the most epic love story. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son for us! Jesus loves us so much as to give up His life on the cross! He overcame sin and death by rising back to life. Jesus took on our humanity, and purified it, giving us all the opportunity to live fully in His love. God loves us unconditionally and will always welcome us back into His embrace even when we choose a path that leads away from Him (sin). God always invites us to reconcile with Him and come back to Him.
2. Always love and respect your parents, no matter what.
First and foremost, I suggest you share your faith with your parents. After all, the fact that Jesus has saved us from our sins is a pretty big deal and deserves to be shared. Keep things open with them. Explain in a loving way why you chose the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Let them know that you are happy to talk about your choice but try not to be overbearing. Maybe they will be interested in your newfound faith and will ask questions. That’s great! Maybe they won’t. God calls all people to Him individually; each in their own way. Pray for them on their own faith journey but remember God works in His own time.
Never stop praying!
3. Recognize that your faith journey is your own.
When we think about life, we could say that it is a series of choices. As soon as we wake up, we have the power to decide whether we will get out of bed. We choose what we will eat for breakfast, how long we will study for an exam, and who we spend time with. We also choose how we treat others – showing them love or harm.
There will be a time when God will rightfully judge us based on how we lived our earthly lives. This will happen between each of us and God alone. Each of us is responsible for the choices we make. No matter who is around us, whether they believe in God or not, our faith has to be our own. We are called to lovingly help each other on our faith journeys, but in the end, we are each accountable for our personal relationship with God.
4. Find role models to help guide you on your faith journey.
Being responsible for your relationship with God and the choices you make in life might seem a little daunting. That is why God gave us the Church; people that we can rely on when things get tough. Our faith might be ours alone, but it can be strengthened when we surround ourselves with people also striving to live holy lives.
Faith is hard, especially today when it is becoming increasingly separated from ‘mainstream culture’. This is difficult to navigate, especially if you don’t have a parent to look to for guidance. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people at church who you trust and ask them your questions about faith. The priest will always be willing to answer your questions as well as other parishioners. If your parents are your ride to things, maybe even consider asking a church member (with your parent’s permission) if they would be willing to pick you up on their way to Divine Liturgy or church events.
Traveling this faith journey without your parents might leave you feeling sad or empty at times but remember that you also have a heavenly Father. God put Jesus in the care of two earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, whom Jesus deeply loved and respected. However, Jesus was also closely connected to God, His Father in heaven, constantly praying to him and looking to Him for guidance. His is our perfect model of faith.