What's life like in Montana?
Answer: pure awesomeness. Unless it’s super smoky, like today. Then it’s just mostly awesome.
Montana is unlike any other place I’ve ever been; moving to DC was definitely a bit of a culture shock. I’ve spent over 14 years of my life in Three Forks, Montana, a city of only 1800 people. If nothing else, the town is intimate. Life revolves around the seasons, with a close connection to nature. With that comes challenges that require you to both be independent and community-driven. I know it seems a bit oxymoronic, but let me explain.
People here value the ability to take care of yourself, because there’s not always someone to help you out. Whether you’re in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, or stuck in the mountains out of cell phone service, you have to be able to handle the situation yourself. Yet, at the same time, in periods of hardship I have seen the town come together and support each other in really remarkable ways. Even in day-to-day life, we rely on one another and seek to support our neighbors.
In many ways, I think these ideas of independence and community reflect where we need to be in our spiritual life. To some extent, our faith journey is an independent one. We each have to individually choose to commit our lives to Christ; we cannot simply go with the wavering opinions of those around us. Even when we are alone in an environment that is hostile, or even ambivalent, to our faith, we must stand strong in what we believe. However, we have also been incredibly blessed with a faith community to support us. In fact, we are designed for community and for love.
The amazing thing about serving a God who is simultaneously one being and three persons is that we are created out of love, to love. God didn’t create humanity because he was lonely, or because he in any way needed us, but rather because for all eternity the Father, Son and Spirit have known perfect love between themselves and wanted to share that love with others. We are the outpouring of love that comes from the community of God, and are therefore hardwired to enter into a community of love with those around us. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are the people who should support us in any situation; we should not be ashamed to share our struggles and fears with one another.
I’ve only been involved with Chi Alpha for one year, but in that year I have found a loving, serving community that does not judge me for my faults or doubts, but instead supports me in every circumstance. My prayer is that wherever you find yourself, you encounter a faith community that will both support you and encourage growth in your relationship with God, so that you are able to stand firm in any circumstance.