By Hayley Farrugia
Lately, I have been contemplating where I am in my faith compared to where I was when I was at school and this isn’t a bad thing. That’s why it’s called a faith journey. I felt called to provide any HSC students of this year and any current university students with some tips on how to continue travelling on your faith journey, even when you take the road to university. So before I spill the beans and give you the tips straight up, I want to share the road that I travelled to come to these realisations, as I am now in my 4th and final year of university.
My expectations were not my reality. Starting university in 2015 in today’s society, as a young, Catholic woman, was always going to be a challenge. I had this vision that I would arrive at university, sign up to the campus youth group straight away, gradually invite people from my dorm and eventually we would all be having Hillsong jam sessions in the common room. You have to hand it to me for my positivity, right?
When I finally discovered a Christian students group on campus, I attended with high expectations; comparing it to the youth group experience I had at home. I went along with my Catholic Youth Bible and highlighter in hand, only to be unwelcomed and overlooked, not only by students but other adults as well.
So I tried attending mass at the local Cathedral a few times. Again, I arrived with high expectations of the priest, the music, the congregation – everything. I left feeling disappointed and empty once again.
Don’t get me wrong; living on campus has been the most incredible time of my life. However, I could never find that “me” time to pray. For starters, the carpet here is really hard on the knees, but the social atmosphere always interrupted these moments and temptation won me over every time.
I projected my faith to my friends as more of a topic for discussion, rather than a statement of belief. So I would ask my friends about their opinions on living the practice of chastity before marriage or going to church every Sunday, but I was easily swayed and wasn’t strong enough to speak my own truth.
I’m not really selling it at this point, but bear with me!
It wasn’t until the passing of my mother at the end of 2015, that I realised it wasn’t that all these things I was trying weren’t meeting my expectations, but I was just scared of healing. I spent all of the next year hiding from my own wounds and I didn’t talk to God once, even when I knew that was the one thing that would help me. When during the most saddening event of my life I didn’t turn to God, I knew something was wrong. Jesus was more scared, betrayed and broken hearted than anyone in history. Yet He didn’t shut Himself off from us. I became to understand that his scars were proof that He will always love me more than I will ever know and that He wanted to see me run again. And this is how I did it:
- Pray, in your
From falling asleep at night doing the Rosary to praying during those quiet moments in the day – even if I were walking to class – I would have a conversation with God. Starting to pray again after a whole year without prayer was scary at first, but I met God in these prayers, who slowly, painfully and divinely pieced me back together. Don’t fall into the trap of seeking validation from others about the way you pray, because the world sees only what you do, but God sees why you do it. “When you pray, go into your room shut the door behind you and pray to your Father” (Matthew 6:6). Prayer can be scattered, awkward and helpless, but if there’s no mess, there’s no message.
- Read The Bible
It seems obvious, but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time. Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be an in-depth study every time you open its pages, but simply a reminder that God is always speaking to us and through us. I bought a new Bible during this time because I felt it signified a new era of my life of being brave and letting God work on my healing. The phrase, “do not be afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God every day to live fearlessly.
Those who sing, pray twice. When words fail to express how I am feeling during prayer, I listen to my favourite praise and worship songs and let them speak for me. I travel 8 hours from home to get to my university, so this gives me plenty of time to use my prayer playlist!
- Social Media
Use social media to inspire and motivate you every day to continue your faith journey. Spend some time researching Instagram accounts of people that resonate with your faith, scripture quotes on Pinterest and YouTube accounts such as Emily Wilson and Father Rob Galea – both, which have videos on how to keep your faith during your college years.
The cross we carry is never so heavy as the chains we were freed from. It’s never too late to keep travelling on your faith journey; you’ve only taken a detour!
Hayley graduated year 12 in 2014 from MacKillop Senior College, Port Macquarie. She is now in her fourth year of university, studying to become a Primary School Teacher…her life-long dream. Hayley loves a good aesthetic cafe, jamming out to covers of the Beatles and she never lets a moment of joy go by without capturing a photo.