The Faith Within You
This may not necessarily be the first article you would expect to read on a fashion & lifestyle blog, but it’s still an interesting and important topic I want to talk about today.
It all started with my journey to Israel this past summer. I’ll never forget our day trip to Jerusalem, the “holy city.” Partly because I had a little panic attack and blacked out, because I didn’t eat all day, but also because of the extreme aura and emotional spirit this city holds within its walls. Especially in the “Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” where Jesus supposedly was buried and resurrected.
I was baptized (Protestant) when I was 14, because my parents always wanted me and my brothers to be “old enough, to decide for ourselves” if we believed in God. My dad has had his own past with different religions, believes and reads a lot of books about all kinds of religions, but is an atheist. My mom grew up in a very traditional and strict Catholic family. When she met my dad they couldn’t get married first because they couldn’t decide where (in a church or not) and how to get married. When they finally got married I was three. My mom has since then converted to the Protestant faith and I joined her for church many times when I was younger. However, I stopped going to church after I got baptized (except for Christmas), but my whole family is very open and spiritual when it comes to religion. We’ve spent summers in France at Buddhism camps and meditated at home. My first motivational, self-healing, and happiness books were all borrowed from my Dad. My mom, on the other side, always raised us very “spiritual” and selfless, even without reading books like “The Secret.” One thing she taught me for life is: “Treat others the way, you want to treated” and “Be thankful for what you have and count your blessings every day.”
During the last couple of years my “faith” kind of turned into an attitude towards life and the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne became my personal “bible.” I devoured motivational books, life guides, business counselors and any article regarding positive thinking and the law of attraction. I gave and I received plenty. I’m very thankful for everything I have, I try to count my blessings every day and focus on the small things in life and everything I already have. I try, to mostly focus on the positive things in life, the happy news, the ‘good stuff” and I try to give back as much as I can. This is exactly how I was raised with these values my parents taught me growing up.
And although neither the Bible, nor the Koran nor ‘The Law of Attraction” differ much from each other, there is one particular thing I recently noticed. It’s almost always about me. About you. About us. But separated from each other. The Secret is a wonderful book and I still believe in the law of attraction, the law of the universe. However, all of these self-help books, theories and concepts mostly care about us alone. Meaning, they mostly focus on things regarding yourself, such as making YOU happier, more successful, fiter, more organized and so on. You. Not us or we. Yet, it should be so much more about US, about WE, about the community. I noticed this especially after visiting one of Judah Smith’s church services in Los Angeles. But we’ll come back to that later on.
No matter what it is, it moved me
Back to the Jerusalem story. In late summer, I was part of an exclusive international blogger group that got invited to Israel to learn about the country, the people, and the culture. You all know how much I love traveling, so I was super excited to see some ancient cities full of history. We traveled through Israel for one week and spent one day in Jerusalem. The “holy city,” where Jesus supposedly not only died and got crucified and died, but also the place he rose from the dead. Whether religious or not, Jerusalem is still a city people lived in and still live in a city with so much history. Something happened in the old Jerusalem. This city has an energy and spiritual aura I have never experienced anywhere else in the world (and I’ve been to 44 countries and lots of holy places).
No matter what it is, it moved me. It has touched something in me and hasn’t left me since.
As a little child, my mom would always read from the Bible to me and I loved the stories about Jesus and his disciples. Additionally, the Old Testament and the Deadly Sins fascinated me. Then, I grew older and became more skeptical, uninterested, egocentric and smiled at people my age that were faithful and went to church. I persuaded myself that I don’t believe in ‘God’ and always said, that I’d believe in “something.” I’ve always believed that there is something between heaven and earth that we cannot explain or understand, something that watches us, protects us and loves us. However, this something doesn’t necessarily have to be named ‘God’. I talked to The Universe and believed in Guardian Angels. I created my own beliefs but denied any connection to a firm belief.
It’s totally normal to have doubts
I think it’s perfectly normal to have doubts in an age like ours. In this modern world, it’s hard to find space for an ‘old-fashioned’ belief in God. Everyone is focused on themselves, with their own well-being. Christian charity? Of course, I love my family and friends! Strangers? Yes, too! But I haven’t really sat down to dispute with the belief in God in a long time. Still, it was always there, my ‘belief’, and the word ‘believe’ is part of my daily vocabulary. I prayed almost every day, asked the universe for things. and have been thankful for the thing in my life – the good, but also the bad things (because they always show me how fortunate and lucky I usually am). I carried on my faith by motivating others, by talking about my ideas of life, sharing my positive thoughts and by talking about ‘The Secret‘. I focused so much on my own dreams and goals that I didn’t even notice or appreciate, how I reached most of them already. Did it make me happy? Not really! You’d think once you have ‘that job’, that ‘own collection you always dreamed about’, ‘that designer bag’, ‘that many followers on social media’ you’d be happy. Because that’s what life is all about, right? About setting goals, reaching them and becoming happy. Well, it doesn’t. At least not long enough – it won’t fulfill you because those things are all about you. And on the long run we can only be truly happy, when we do things for other people and not only us. It has to be about the we.
After my emotional break down in Jerusalem, I talked to some other people that had similar ‘symptoms’ after visiting this holy place. I really wanted to read the Bible again after my Israel trip, to learn more about the history. And then? Everyday life. As always. There are always ‘more important things’ to do, ‘no time’ – you know the game. Still, there was one question that didn’t leave me. All these people that made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the grave of Jesus, that had tears in their eyes, that kneed down to kiss these stones on the floor that supposedly bury one of the most known guys worldwide. Somehow this devotion fascinated me.
One can call it God, Allah, Yahweh or the Universe; everybody knows “the ways of the Lord are inscrutable” and I believe in signs. I’m open for little hints; ‘coincidences’, others call it destiny or purpose. In Los Angeles we clebrated Thanksgiving with my American ex boyfriend. He comes from a very religious small town in California and I knew that he was faithful. What I didn’t know was, that he started to go to church again in L.A. He told us about this awesome church where he helps out once a week with his best friend. Xenia and I first though he was talking about a club called ‘church’ and were already joking, what a smart name. Ha ha. After a while we realized, that he was actually talking about a real church service in Beverly Hills and I was skeptical (always!) and curious at the same time. A few days later one of my followers on snapchat sent me a message telling me about “this really cool church every Wednesday, where Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez always go” (Hey, there are signs!) and it was a done deal: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. After my ex boyfriend confirmed that she probably spoke about the same church service, Xenia and I knew: We had a church date for Wednesday night!
The City Church and Judah Smith
What should I say? The church service from pastor Judah Smith has changes my life! Okay, I agree, this might sound a little drastic and dramatic now. But somehow it might be true. Those of you, who follow me on snapchat (luisaslions), have probably already noticed how I was blown away by the modern and motivating church services and how I worshipped The City Church. Still, I don’t want to convince, convert or hurt anyone, because I don’t believe in the same god like he/she. I personally think, in the end there’s only one god – in the sense of: everyone believes in what they think is right and helpful and gives it another name.
I know that religion is a very personal topic. And I’m sure there’ll be some people now that shake their heads and think ‘why the heck does she have to speak about religion now, she should just stick with her fashion stuff’. However, I’m very certain, we all agree that Style-Roulette has become so much more than just a fashion blog. This is my personal outlet, my little ‘baby’ that I’ve been sharing my styles, my passions, my life and my thoughts on for the past six years with you. Sometimes I don’t even know myself what exactly I’m doing here, but it’s always real and has something to do with my life, my feelings, my moods and mostly my personal growth.
The best Comedy Show
Somehow, I just felt like writing all my thoughts down today about these endless encounters with god lately. Because after Xenia and I immediately fell in love with the way pastor Judah Smith talked and dressed (dayum, best dressed American guy so far in L.A.) and how he motivated us, we declared Wednesday night to be our holy night, the highlight of our week. Literally, the entire week we were excited for the church service and couldn’t wait to get another one and a half hours of life advice, motivation and mostly life comedy show. You have to imagine The City Church this way: they preach the new Testament and the stories of Jesus (right now we are talking about the letters from John), but in a way, it couldn’t be any more relatable and modern.
Admittedly, the biggest part of our sudden enthusiasm and interest in the church is thanks to the young, dynamic pastor Judah Smith. He translates the bible in a modern way that is so easy to understand and so relatable that you actually get great life advice for your daily problems and questions. Xenia and I had to laugh so hard when he translated one passage into “haters gonna hate” and he truly has an amazing talent to capture everyone’s’ attention and to make a room of a hundred people laugh. Because he’s real, he’s ‘just like us’. He has relationship problems, he roots for a sports team (Seattle Seahawks, he’ll mention it often enough so that even people like me that don’t care about American football will remember) 🙂 He’s smart and funny, but mostly he is passionate. He is so passionate about Jesus and God’s love for us there is simply no other way then to stop and wonder. There must be some truth to it. There aren’t many people that I look up to or that motivate me. However, Judah Smith might be one of those few. You need to hear him talk, see him walk down the stage, watch him laugh – he seems like a wonderful person that is closer to Jesus than anyone I’ve ever known. (Watch his service here)
Faith means Community
If I’m (again or still) faithful? I don’t know. But I think so. What I learned is, that all these self-help books will teach you a lot about you. In the bible, however, it is more about us. Jesus died for US and for the first time ever I understand that this is what makes the difference. Faith means community. It’s not about you, or me, it’s about us. God, or however you want to call him/she/it is there for all of us. It’s not only about fulfilling your own goals, but to help others (okay, this is nothing new and that’s exactly how I got raised but we tend to forget the simplest things in life). In Judah Smith’s church services its all about love and community. He says: God is Love. And only if we love God and feel his unconditional love for us, we have to understand what it means to love and be selfless.
The church services have changed me. I remember, how I used to shake my head over Instagram profiles and bloggers who would put ‘Jesus Lover’ or ‘faithful believer of God’ in their captions or post pictures of them reading the bible. I must admit, I was like “Oh my God, that’s so American, so Bible Belt and so not me”. Well look at me now! I definitely don’t laugh about them anymore, nor do I judge! I actually start to understand all these actors, rappers and artists now that say ‘God saved my life’, that they’d be out on the street or dead by now, if they hadn’t found their way to God. Faith means community. If you believe, you’re not alone! God is there for you, and also there for other people that believe in the same love. It’s about acceptance, it gives people hope and security and they feel like someone actually understands them and accepts them the way they are. I slowly start to understand, why people need God. Why it’s helpful to have faith.
I also realize, that I technically didn’t do anything else, but believe the last couple years! I just didn’t want to call it faith. You all know my life motto: “Everything happens for a Reason” – yes, I still believe in that and I think the bible tells us pretty much the same. I believe everything happens for a reason; we learn from situations, and sometimes bad things have to happen first to turn into even better things. Sometimes we don’t see that ‘reason’ right away, but I’ve never doubted that there is not a bigger picture and a bigger purpose for us. I believe, there is something between heaven and earth that we can’t quite explain, something to protect us, to watch us, to give life a meaning, something that has always been there and that will always be there. Something way bigger than us. And I slowly start to realize what it is.
The sudden Change
Finally, what triggered this very long and personal article was another sign. One day after Christmas I went to the movie theatre with my family to watch a film about a German comedian. I had no idea, what the movie would be about! Well, guess what, it was a movie about God! It was about a guy walking the Way of St. James in Spain and how he was struggling to believe in God and how he found him on his way there. I mean SIGNS!? Also, for the first time in years, I was excited to go to Church on Christmas and I actually really understood the story of Jesus’ birth. And then last, but not least, I got my favorite Christmas present: Life Is _____ a book about life and God by ‘our’ L.A. pastor Judah Smith. I’m half way through now and it’s literally one of the ‘best’ books I’ve ever read because it’s helpful, interesting, hilarious (his humor is so on point) and simply inspiring! You know, how much I’ve always loved The Secret, but ‘Life Is ___’ really is about to be my new favorite book! It’s just so easy to understand and still very deep and it’ll trigger lots of interesting thoughts and give you actual life-advice. I could screenshot / underline something important from almost every single page of that book (and whoever follows me on snapchat knows, that I’ve been doing that) and take that as a new ‘life motto’, something to live by. It’s crazy, how many of you have already ordered the book (apparently it’s ‘sold out’ on amazon right now or at least not as easy to get) but it’s worth the wait!
It’s so inspiring and amazing to see, how many people I can reach and have an impact on your life, like other people have on me. I don’t want to change anyone’s mind; I just want to show you what’s out there! One thing that I’ve really taken to heart from Judah Smith is the story about happiness. If you’re not happy and appreciative today, you won’t be that tomorrow or when you finally have ‘that boyfriend’, ‘the job you always wanted’, ‘1 Million on your bank account’, ‘travelled all the places you wanted to’ – because what’s then? What will that change with you? I’ve experienced it myself! We all grow up in this world full of clichés and fairy tales and society, movies and people that tell us ‘once you find your prince, life will be perfect’ wait what? Life should be ‘perfect’ NOW! Life is what you make of it! Don’t wait for anyone to make you happy, be happy. I have these goals, and dreams, that I want to achieve in my life. And without really realizing it, I’ve accomplished quite a few from those ‘lifetime goals’ this year (own clothing line, own jewelry line, (co-) writing a book, getting my artist visa for the U.S., having more than 100.000 followers on Instagram etc.) does it make me happy(er)? Not really. I mean yes, it definitely made me happy for a moment, it made me proud. But it doesn’t fulfill me. There has to be more to life. And I’m slowly starting to realize what it might be 🙂
Lastly, I don’t want to hurt or disrespect anyone with this rather untypical and very personal post. I know, religion can be a very tough topic, but I believe it’s important to let everyone follow their own believes, their own opinions. Don’t judge, be accepting and open and tolerant.