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Monica Gallen

Dr. Storer

SLA 150 02

21 September 2015

Faith Journey Paper

The top priority in my life is my family. This is because they have been with me from the

beginning and have pushed me to become the person I am today. I think that family should

always come first because you are stuck with those people for the rest of your life and you

should care for them. My second priority is God and my religion. My church and God have also

helped me get this far in life and are extremely important to me. My religion will continue to

guide me and teach me right from wrong as I grow and mature into an adult. My third priority in

life would have to be my friends. Just like my family, my friends have grown with me and

helped me out throughout my childhood and early adulthood. Friends are very important to me

because you can choose who you want to be friends with, but you still care for each other like

family. The fourth priority in my life is my education. Education is important because without it

you would not be able to get a job and a steady income or support yourself. It is important in my

life that I receive the education I need to make money and live on my own. I do not want to rely

on other people to support me the rest of my life. Health is the fifth most important priority in my

life. This would be my health, my family’s health, and my friends’ health. I think it is important

to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of their body. My sixth priority is a stable career. This is

because I want to support myself and be comfortable in life. I want to know that I will have an

income for an extended period of time and not have to bother continuously searching for jobs. A

healthy relationship is seventh on my list of priorities. I eventually want to be in a relationship


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where I can trust my partner. This is lower on my list though because I am still young and not s

concerned about having a relationship like this yet. The last priority on my list is entertainment.

This is because everything else on my list I have to continuously work for and having something

fun to do once in a while would be nice. I picked entertainment to keep my life happy, upbeat,

and give me a break once in a while.

I realized that family should be my highest priority because I have seen what happens

when it is not. Families get torn apart and have bad relationships with each other. I do not want

to see that happen to my family so I made it my top priority. Along with that my parents have

always made a big deal out of the importance of family and how we should always stick

together. Their insight has pushed me to make family my first priority. I have been pretty

consistent with making my family my first priority. Whenever my family has an issue I drop

what I am doing to assist the best I can. I have known for a long time that my family drives my

life and supports me, but also others have made it clear to me that family is very important. I

have never questioned the importance of my family, but I have seen people who do and decided

that I do not want to live my life like that. The belief of trust and dependability on other people

guide my life. I realized that I put a lot of trust in my family and friends to do what they say and

respect me. I believe that trust is one of the most important values to have in a relationship with

anyone. Also I believe that the people you keep in your life should be dependable. They should

be there when you need their help and not blow you off for a better option. I believe trust and

dependability are very important for good, healthy relationships and a good life.

In my life I have dealt with a lot of pain, but there have also been moments of great joy.

Although I suffered a lot during the bad times, I have learned many important lessons. Growing

up I was a very happy, trustful person. I did not believe that anything bad could really happen to
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me. My parents and my sister were very supporting and seemed happy to me. When I was five,

my mom had another baby and she was adorable. I loved that she was much younger than me

because I could help take care of her. I had also just started school; this was so much fun to me. I

did not realize that I would be stuck I school for the next twelve years. I always did well in

school and never had to study very hard. This was not true for either of my sisters. I was lucky to

have a lot of extra time to play, but I did develop somewhat bad study habits through high

school. I was pretty friendly, so I found that I had a lot of people to talk to. I was blessed to make

a few really good friends, but I was nice and talked to everyone.

While growing up I never got involved in school sports. I played the piano and clarinet

and started dancing at a young age. I am grateful that I was involved in dance. It introduced me

to new people from other schools who I would never have met otherwise. Knowing and being

friends with people from different schools was ideal for me. If I would have participated in a

sport through my school, I would always be around the same people. It allowed me to observe

how people outside of my town lived and gave me a different perspective on life. Although I

liked leaving my school and peers, I had a lot of fun there too. My high school offered many

events and opportunities to help the community and travel within different groups. One major

event that changed me was mini-THON. This event brought attention to pediatric cancer. In

support of Penn State’s THON, my high school would stay awake for twelve hours over night.

We raised a lot of money that was then donated to Penn State to put towards the Make-A-Wish

Foundation. I believe that this event made me more aware of what other families could be going

through. It has shaped my life to be more responsive and aware of other people.

Although I have had so many great experiences growing up, my life was not always what

it seemed. My father has suffered with drug and alcohol addiction for most of his life, so I grew
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up not knowing what I would be coming home to for years. When I was extremely young my

mom did not tell me about my dad and his habits. I come from a big Irish family, so drunk

people were never a big deal to me. My dad was just like his brothers; I did not think anything of

it. Not until I was seven years old did I learn that my dad was not like the rest of his family. To

me he had been sick for a long time, until one day he told me he had to tell me something. I was

very naïve and thought he just wanted to talk. In reality he was telling me that he was moving out

and going to rehab for a long time. Again, I did not realize what a long time meant until he did

not move back for three years. This was the first time he left my family.

After my dad moved back in things seemed to be better in my family. Everybody seemed

happy again for a few years, until my dad needed to have his shoulder replaced. As in the past,

my mom did everything she could to stop him from becoming attached to the pain medication.

But, as in the past, nothing worked. My family was back in the same situation we were in just a

few years before. My dad thought that he could break his addiction by himself and tried

everything he could to do that, but it did not work. It was not until I was home alone with him

and he fell down the stairs because he was not in the right state of mind did he decide to go to

rehab again. There was a lot of pain and suffering in my life after that. I knew what my dad was

capable of in his addictive state, but I never had to really deal with it. My mom or older sister

was always there to protect me and take care of him before I had to worry about it. I am grateful

that they looked out for me like that, but it did not prepare me to deal with him on my own. After

that night I worked to forgive my father. It took a long time for me to be able to talk to him and

meet with him face-to-face. I had a lot to think about before I was able to accept my dad back

into my life. I would have to say that growing up in that type of household played a big part in

shaping my life.
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My parents valued honesty and respect. My mom always told me to be honest, no matter

what the consequences were. It was better to admit to what you have done in the moment instead

of holding it in. With my father’s past, honesty was very important. I grew up in a house of lies,

so the more honest I was the less likely I would follow in my dad’s footsteps. Along with

honesty, respect was very important to my parents. They enforced that I respect everybody no

matter what they believed. Even though I grew up in a drug and alcohol free household, I was

taught to respect people who partook in those activities anyway. This was partly because my

aunts and uncles were still heavy drinkers and I was not supposed to look down on them for that.

I would say that I still follow these values. I am very honest and open with my parents. If I do

something that they would not like or approve of I would still tell them and work through the

consequences together. Also, I do not look down upon people who drink. I have learned that not

everybody will end up in the same situation as my dad, so I do not have to worry and look down

on people who drink.

When life seems hopeless I usually start by saying a prayer. If anybody can help me it has

to be God. Even If I have to work through the issue on my own, I feel better about it after I pray.

I also talk to either my mom or older sister about the problem. They have been saving me my

whole life from bad things, so it makes sense to look to them for advice. My mom and sister do

not always have an answer or solution, but they are always willing to talk through it with me. I

find that I like to pray every night before bed. At that time I can reflect on my day and thank God

for all of the good things that have happened to me. I can also pray for the next day or other

issues that I am worrying about. It is a good way to clear my mind before falling asleep. When I

was little my family would make a point to pray before eating dinner. They still do this, but I like
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to pray by myself also. As I have grown and matured I have found that I like my personal time

praying.

In the future I would like to see myself continuing to go to church every Sunday and

worshipping. I grew up going to Sunday school and church every Sunday. When I was younger I

went through periods of time not wanting to go to church. After I was confirmed, most of the

students in my class only returned to church on holidays. I decided to get involved and assist in a

classroom. I was lucky enough to work with a teacher who is deeply rooted in her faith.

Although her lessons were for first and second-graders, I found that I learned a lot more about

my personal faith in the few years that I worked with her. This teacher had a way of explaining

faith and religion in an exciting way. Most of the people who taught me about religion growing

up were very bland and not interesting to listen to. It was hard for me to pay attention and wrap

my head around their idea of religion. This new teacher was very open to what the kids asked

and was very truthful in her answers. She had a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but sometimes

she would admit that she did not know an answer to their question instead of trying to come up

with something that was vague or wrong.

My eyes were really opened to God and how important religion is in my life. I would not

be where I am today without my faith and religion. Especially with the situation I was put in with

my dad recently. I prayed a lot before talking to him to see if I was making the right decision. I

was very split on my feelings at that time in my life. It helped to have someone and something to

turn to and explain myself. Now religion is one of the biggest guiding principles in my life. I

make a lot of decisions with my religion in mind. I wish that I would have had this relationship

with my religion earlier in life, but I just was not ready to accept it before. I believe that it takes

just one person to convince you to believe in your religion. From my experience, many people
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can try to tell you how great your religion can be, but it will not click until you talk to the right

person. This can change your life in many positive ways as long as you are open to it.

For the interview portion of this paper I talked to my mom. She and I have some different

views on religion and I was interested to hear what she had to say. I began by explaining that

everybody develops a faith stance in life. It does not have to be religious, but everybody trusts in

some orienting principle. From there faith can be narrowed down, but for the interview I left it as

our general definition of faith. Then I asked my mom to name the top five priorities in her life in

order of their importance. Her top priority was our family. Like me, she believed that family is

the basic structure of your life. They have been there from the beginning of your life and should

be there until the end. Unlike me, my mom has two families that she cares about. Her parents,

sister, and two brothers have been there from the beginning and have shown how much they

cared for her throughout their entire lives. My mom then started her own family and has taken

care of us since we were born. She has devoted most of her life to taking care of her family so

family always come first.

Second on her list of priorities is her religion. My mom grew up in her church and has

created strong bonds with all different types of people. Along with the people in our church, my

mom has grown close to God. We have gone through the same tough times together and our

religion was one of the only stable things in her life. My mom’s third priority is the health of our

family. She does not want to see us get sick or suffer. My mom has always been our caretaker so

she hates to see us sick. Along with our health, she wants us to be happy. That is what she

considers her fourth priority. My mom will do just about anything to cheer us up because she

hates to see us upset. My mom knows what our family has gone through and it breaks her heart

to see us in pain like that. The last priority on her list is money and a house. My mom wants to
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always be able to provide and have a stable income for our family. My mom never wants to feel

like she cannot take care of us or give us what we want or need.

After I had my mom list her priorities I asked her about the joyful moments that shaped

her life. The most joyful moments in my mom’s life were the first time she was able to hold each

of her kids. She said that being able to hold her newborn babies was the happiest she has ever

been. She knew that she would care for us the rest of our lives and try to let nothing hurt us. This

shaped her life because she knew that she was not just living for herself anymore, she had other

lives to take care of along with hers. Due to her answer to this questions, I asked how she came

to realize that family was the most important priority in her life. Along with the answer she

already gave me she told me that we have been with her through it all. Obviously as kids we

were not there at the beginning of her life, but we have seen some of the worst of what she has

been through. She realized that she needs to put her family first because we will have to deal

with these issues for the rest of our lives. Also, her parents, sister, and brothers have helped her

out immensely in the past and today. There is no reason to put anything but family first.

My mom said the most important ritual in her life is prayer. She believes that prayer is

the best way to solve problems. Even if you do not get a direct answer, it feels like a major

weight is taken off of your shoulders after you pray. She hopes that my sisters and I continue to

pray throughout our lives. She does not want us to seem hopeless ever. Her advice is to always

pray before making major decisions in life. My mom always prays at dinner and has instilled that

in her kids. In the future she hopes that we remember to say a prayer before eating our dinner.

She also likes to have a personal prayer when she wakes up. She usually prays for the health of

our family and talks about all of the stresses in her life. Throughout her life she has always been

faithful to her religion. Her mom made it clear how important religion was at a young age, so my
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mom has always followed those beliefs. The only time my mom had a break in her religion was

during her time in college. This was not necessarily because she did not want to go to church, but

she had trouble finding a church that she could go to. Whenever she was home she would attend

church, but while at school she had a really demanding schedule.

During those years she realized how faithful she was to her religion and made sure that

her kids were raised in a church. She has turned to her religion many times when she felt that she

could not find an answer herself. So, her faith has played a big role in guiding her through her

life. The only time that she does not use her faith as a guiding principle is when she feels really

strongly about an issue. This does not happen very often, but my mom can be stubborn on some

issues. These generally have to do with our family and our health. As she said earlier, family

comes before anything. After the interview was over I found that I understood my mom even

better than I did before. It was an eye-opening moment to hear what she had to say on the

different questions about religion and her faith. I am glad that I got to know my mom even better

and see how she feels about different issues.

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