For those Messianic youth who attend a school outside of their home, the back-to-school season can seem daunting.
Attending school means spending the entire academic year learning and interacting with people who do not share your beliefs, which can be both beautiful and terrifying. In either case, it should not be taken lightly. Here are a few important things to keep in mind throughout the school year.
1. The outside world isn’t as scary as you might think.
As members of a tiny and often mistreated religion, we understand the importance of setting ourselves and our communities apart from the world. However, this mindset can also turn toward an unhealthy perspective of “us vs. them.” Distinction is absolutely important, but remembering to treat everyone with dignity and respect is just as important, if not more so. If you’re feeling anxious about being the weird one with the religion that no one understands, remember that the differences between you and the people around you don’t set you against each other. This year is an open opportunity for you to practice righteousness in the way you treat your classmates, teachers, and everyone else.
2. You don’t have to be a walking advertisement for Messianic Judaism.
Conversations about what you believe and why will come up, and how you act does reflect on the religion with which you identify. However, don’t set out thinking that you need to be a constant example of the perfect Messianic young adult. The pressure of that kind of mindset will only weigh you down and make your time in school more difficult. It’s wonderful to want to share your religion with the people around you, but remember that this is your time to grow and develop yourself as an individual.
3. Stay grounded in your Messianic community and lifestyle.
Try to stay involved in the Messianic world even amid the chaos of homework, exams, and extracurriculars. If you attend a congregation or a Bible study, try to keep attending consistently. Keep in touch with your friends from camps and conferences and keep each other accountable. Even when your schedule is out of control and you feel swamped with deadlines and obligations, don’t forget to spend time with God each day. Staying spiritually grounded and connected to your community will make it possible to get through the school year without getting lost in social and academic stress.