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Stephen Darling

WRTC 103 Critical Reading and Writing

Professor Fielding

10 September 2017

How I Made My Faith My Own

I grew up in a Christian family that regularly went to church. Over the years, my parents

helped lead and host various Bible studies, and they were well-respected members of the church.

My parents did not grow up as strong Christians, and so they strived to instill a passion for God

in me. Over the years, I have gained a passion for God and Christianity, and this was not only

due to my parents teaching, but it was also due to the hardships I have faced throughout my life.

My dad being deployed, me hearing that I would not get into any of the colleges I wanted to get

into, and the influence of my basketball coach, are all reasons why I am I Christian today.

Christianity is a religion that is centered (Latourette 23) around the man, Jesus Christ,

and it is indebted to Judaism (Latourette 5). Christianity started with the Jews believing in

God, waiting for the Messiah, and doing their best to uphold the laws they were given. To the

Jews, the Messiah was the anointedking who was to reign under divine commission

(Latourette 11). Then, when Jesus came into the world, some believed he was the Messiah, and

others did not because of his humble birth and upbringing. As a Christian, one believes in the

death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he or she believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

Romans 10:9-10 attests to this claim: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and

believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Unfortunately, there are many stereotypes among Christians and Christianity. Some

examples include hypocritical, antihomosexual, and judgmental (Kinnaman 27-28). These

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stereotypes are mostly warranted because many Christian denominations have lost important

values that they need to uphold. For example, Jesus was always accepting and he loved

everyone. Christians nowadays should practice what they preach, like loving and accepting

others no matter what. One reason I wanted to join this religion was because I saw how

Christians are supposed to love [their] neighbor no matter what (Mark 12:31). This idea really

interested me because it is what my mentors have taught me to do for my entire life. In addition,

I want to love and accept everyone because one of the worst feelings in the world is being

excluded from something. My basketball coach would teach me many lessons like this, and I

will talk about that later on in this paper.

Although I was mainly just a member of the church, I got to help out and lead in various

places. For example, my first job was at my former church, and I got the opportunity to lead in a

ministry for middle school students called Wyldlife. In addition, I was involved in a student

ministry called Young Life, and that was and still is an incredible blessing. Going forward, I just

want to help out wherever I can, whether it is my church or a student ministry. My goals and

responsibilities as a member or a leader are to lead, love, and set an example for others.

The first real hardship that I faced in my life could be called the cornerstone for me

becoming the person and the Christian I am today. When I was about eleven years old, my

father was deployed to the Horn of Africa for a year. Once my family heard the news, it did not

fully sink in until we dropped my father off at the airport and drove away. My mother took it the

hardest, and with tears in her eyes she called my father before we could fully pull away from the

airport, begging him to come home. At this moment, I knew the next year was going to be

difficult. Luckily, many people from our church, our friends, our relatives, and our neighbors

eagerly offered help.

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Even though we had the help of so many people, I ended up realizing that I needed to

become the man of the house while my father was gone. I needed to help do chores around the

house, help take care of my little sister, and help my mom with whatever she needed. With the

support of my youth pastor, and other men I respected in my church, I was able to accomplish

these tasks. Whether I liked it or not, it forced me to mature.

A more recent experience that has helped define my religion and the values I hold

happened during the spring of my junior year in high school. During my spring break, I went to

go take a practice S.A.T. that a tutoring company organized. A week later, I got the results of

my test, and we made an appointment with the company so my family and I could see where I

needed to improve. During this meeting, I was essentially told that it would be difficult, if not

impossible, for me to get into any of the schools I wanted to. That night, while my emotions

were flying all over the place, I thought that all of the work I had done, and extracurricular

activities I had taken part in, were worthless because they could not get me to where I wanted to


After that ordeal, I decided to reevaluate my life. Even though what I heard in that

meeting was not entirely true, I decided that I was not where I wanted to be both academically

and spiritually. At this point in my life, I discovered Young Life, switched churches, and was

blessed by the amazing friends I made in both places. In addition to all of this, I found out that

the tutoring company skewed my grades. My friend heard the same talk at his meeting, and was

just as surprised as I was.

The last and most powerful experience I have had in my life was when Jerry Cuffee was

my basketball coach. Jerry Cuffee (we called him Coach Cuffee) grew up in a very poor part of

Norfolk. His family had very little money, and he and his siblings had to share the cramped
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space in their house. Even though Coach Cuffee lived in a poor and dangerous city, he became a

star basketball player and an exceptional student. Throughout his life, he became more and more

successful, and somehow managed to become the basketball coach for my tiny private school in

Northern Virginia. From the second I met Coach Cuffee in the sixth grade, I could tell there was

something different about him. He lived and breathed excellence. Fortunately, he coached me

for my entire high school career. To me, he was less of a basketball coach and more of a life

coach. He taught me how to be a man of God, love and respect others, be successful, and work

hard. He does everything with a successful mindset, and he does not let anything stand in the

way of his goals. He went from a child who lived in an environment similar to the projects to a

successful government contractor working in Northern Virginia. He is the most humble, Christ-

like, loving, caring, and passionate person I know, and without him I do not know where I would

be spiritually or mentally.

These experiences were extremely important events in my life, and I would not trade

them away for anything. The hardships I faced made me stronger, and the lessons I obtained

from my coach helped me see what a successful man looks like. Without these experiences and

events, my life would not be the same. The biggest lesson I learned from all of this was that

difficult times are just as important as exciting ones. My faith has grown as a result of hardships,

and that encourages me everyday to face any troubles I have head on because I know that they

will help me in the long run.

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Works Cited

Kinnaman, David, and Gabe Lyons. UnChristian. Yates & Yates.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianity. San Francisco, Harper, 1953.