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Since I was little, the first values my parents tried to instill into my brother and me were that of Christianity–and for most of my childhood, I was content adhering to these beliefs. It wasn’t until my disaster at Carnegie Hall that I began to question my faith. Since I found out that I had the opportunity to perform there, I practiced and prayed incessantly in order to avoid disappointing my parents. I started to wonder if there truly was an omnipotent being that listened to my prayers, or if they were just blind shouts into the void.
As my teenage years continued, I felt ashamed for being unable to return to the faith. I often found myself comparing my own weak will with my brother’s, wondering why he was able to so enthusiastically go to church every week and embark on month-long mission trips every year. Initially, I figured that my loss of faith was attributed to my own immaturity and naivety at the time, and that as I grew older, I would eventually mature enough to return to Christianity. However, this could not have been farther from the truth. As I learned more about this unforgiving world, the less I could see myself ever genuinely accepting Christianity again. How could God let bad things happen to good people? If God was as all-powerful as he is said to be, why can’t he just remove evil? All these thoughts invaded my mindspace, serving as barriers to my identity as a Christian until I could find answers.
In “Borges and I,” written by Jorge Luis Borges, the essay is told from the perspective of Borges’ inner self. His conscious feels a disconnect with the physical Borges, afraid that it is succumbing to outside influences. Borges says: I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him… Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone)…
Writing about his inner self as a separate entity, Borges redefines the application of “essence” in himself. Although his inner self wants to remain the essence of Borges as a collective, his identity in himself is waning and he realizes that he will ultimately become a part of the physical Borges influenced by his environment.
Borges’ analogies to explicate “things longing to persist in their being” contextualize my qualms with falling out of faith. Being born and raised in a Christian household and a Christian community, I associated my own identity with my faith. As my understandings of the world evolved and I reached the point where I could create conclusions of my own, much of my internal struggle stemmed from the uneasiness associated with having my “essence” challenged. My identity was in denial of the gradual changes that altered my being, desperately–yet fruitlessly–holding on to the possibility that my conviction in Christianity would somehow overcome my burgeoning mind.
Although I realize now that my loss in faith was never something to be ashamed of, but rather imperative to my humanity and innate instinct to develop in an unfamiliar environment, I still have qualms about my changing identity. Having lived my life in a family of committed Christians, I still can not bring myself to inform my parents of my divergence from Christianity. I still go to Church, tell my parents I’m not ready to get baptized yet, and dismiss their claims of my lack of faith. I still hold on to the hope that one day I’ll be able to return to the faith. But like Borges’ faltering identity in his inner self, I am unsure whether my motivations stem from fragments of my past consciousness that I am not ready to let go of or a genuine desire from my new, adapted self.
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