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Active faith can balance an imbalanced life

Published: September 22, 2022   
Jake Jansen

Teenagers today have much more on their plate than ever before. The perfect teenager earns good grades, participates in multiple clubs and sports, has a social life in person and on social media, spends time with their family and has a strong relationship with God. For me, it felt very overwhelming; it seemed like I had to be all or nothing.

For a long time, it felt as though school and social media came first; I was spending all of my time studying or online. This imbalance negatively affected my life and made me feel very unhappy and unsatisfied with myself. At first, I wasn’t sure why I felt this way, but eventually, I realized it was because of this imbalanced lifestyle. 

I tried to adjust my time management to do more than just school-related activities and scrolling through social media. Eventually, I was able to successfully achieve a “balanced” lifestyle. For the first time in a while, I took a very active approach to my faith, and I learned a lot. I was interested in hearing stories of the saints and of people who had been able to achieve a strong faith life.  

Unfortunately, learning about these people had an unintended effect on me. I was reading about these huge sacrifices and signs from God that they had. I had never faced persecution for my faith or had a huge sign from God. It made me question whether or not what I was doing was working. I felt like giving up and reverting to my old habits of focusing only on school and social media. Eventually, I did give up. 

"I always thought that to be truly faithful, all of my actions should be giant. I didn’t think about the small things I could do to cultivate my faith."

My life seemed to feel dull and stressful. Because I was so focused on just two things, I felt like I was always behind and underachieving. 

One day, I came across a quote from St. Teresa of Kolkata: “Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.” When I first read it, it seemed insignificant. But I started to think about it and realized that was where I struggled, in the little things. I always thought that to be truly faithful, all of my actions should be giant. I didn’t think about the small things I could do to cultivate my faith. 

After that realization, I knew I had to make sure that I was doing the little things and not just focusing on the important actions. But when I tried to implement this philosophy, I didn’t even know what little actions I could take to be more faithful. I turned to the internet to help me think of ways to make my small actions count more. Looking online sparked many ideas in my mind. The first one was probably the most important: it was to pay attention in Mass. A lot of the time, I’m not thinking about what’s happening and not paying attention. This causes me to take very little away from Mass.

Another thing I decided to do was add more Christian music to my Spotify playlists. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music and by not having any Christian music, I was sectioning off an important part of my life. Another action I decided to take was starting a prayer journal to document my prayer life. I was only writing down a few sentences or phrases, but it helped me see if I had growth or if there was any overarching image from my prayers. These small actions, among the steps I have taken, have revitalized my faith and made it even more important to me. 

Realizing that tiny steps are incredibly crucial to growth is the most important part of the process. Taking many small (seemingly insignificant) steps will compile to become greater than any singular step ever could become. 

Jake Jansen, a senior at Catholic High School, attends Christ the King Church in Little Rock.

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