by Justin Teeuwen
What am I supposed to believe? It wasn’t long in my life before I started to ask myself this question and many others. My name is JT, and I was born and raised a Catholic, but am presently not sure where I belong. By the age of 13, I started to wonder all sorts of religious questions. My first religious debate concerned why I was Roman Catholic, yet Jesus was Jewish — shouldn’t I then be Jewish Catholic? I was reinforced that Catholicism was the oldest form of Christianity, and this satisfied my answer for a while.
Throughout my youth, I continued to learn about the religion to which I had been born. Being a curious little scientist, I asked question after question, for I could not believe in something that I did not understand – at least a little bit. Debating and discussing religion became a hobby for me, so much so that my friends eventually encouraged me to write a book, and so I did. Unpublished though it may be, this book became a series of essays on my thoughts as a teenager, which formed into my answers and beliefs for many of my questions. Eventually, this too became insufficient, as my world expanded.
University opened my eyes to a larger world, a world I could not ignore. Exposed to many faiths of many origins, I began to see truth lying everywhere. I began to grow distant from Roman Catholicism, as my spiritual needs became satisfied through other traditions.
Several years ago, I was incredibly lost. I was in a program I did not resonate with, pursuing a life path I did not understand. I snapped. I skipped town for a month and backpacked through India in search of myself, and in search of God. India had always fascinated me, being the home to people like Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa, the originating home of both Hinduism and Buddhism, in addition to the practice of Yoga, from which I derive much spiritual connection with the Creator.
Along that journey, I began to see the cookie crumbs left by someone, guiding me through the forest of life to their house. It was as though I was specifically being spoken to as particular messages kept reverberating through all aspects of my life. Truths like, “live in the moment”, and “be ever present to truly know yourself, and know God”.
Lost though I was, I began to find a path for myself. Inspired greatly by Gandhi’s autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”, I have begun my spiritual quest for truth in a like manner as he did: I begin by first understanding the religion I was born to, and then learn of the other religions of the world. So my quest has led me here, to Campus Ministry, where I regularly reflect on what it means to be a Catholic, and what truths there are to be learned in the religion I have only begun to understand. It fascinates me to see all of the connections between the faiths, and thrills me each time I find a cookie crumb in this forest.
So, if you are as curious as I am as in searching for self-realization, truth, and/or a having a relationship with God face-to-face, (Which I have learned turn out to be the same thing!) I invite you to join me on my quest for answers.