At the beginning of our AP United States history class, our teacher, a pleasantly plump Black man named Mr. Grigsby asked us an interesting question to spark conversation, “What does your name mean?” I didn’t feel like I had an interesting response to his question. After all, my name was inspired by one of my mom’s favorite actresses. But I was surprised to hear my friend, Xiah’s response. Her name starts with the letter X, which is defined as an unknown variable. For Xiah’s parents, the name they chose was particularly special. Xiah means, “whatever her purpose may be will be defined by God!”
Religion can be a controversial topic. We live in an age where it isn’t very popular to be open about your beliefs, and they are often picked apart to find flaws. I have always been amazed by Xiah’s courage to follow her own path. And I was excited to interview her because I am interested in how she maneuvers through the world as a young Christian female. She is headstrong and completely devoted to her faith. “Being Christian initially gave me a solid group of friends who reminded me that my faith in Jesus will get me through everything,” she said.
When asked whether or not she struggles with being religious today, Xiah responded, “not at all.” She is incredibly open with her faith in all aspects of her life, including social media, something that can be challenging for a teenager. Today’s teens use social media as an outlet for many things. And all of that sharing can come with an insane amount of criticism. It takes guts to consistently post about your relationship with Jesus because it is so controversial. As teenagers, many of us worry about the reaction we get from certain people. And we often face peer pressure based on what society tells us is right or wrong.
But Xiah believes that now is one of the most important times to have a relationship with God. “With the incredible amount of injustice that occurs in this world, it’s important to remain faithful,” she said. She pointed out that the black community has overwhelmingly remained connected with Jesus. Our roots in Christianity have kept us united despite the obstacles we have faced. Xiah was incredibly open and honest about her relationship with Jesus. I asked her if she recalled a moment when she knew she needed God. She replied, “at my grandpa’s funeral in Minnesota.” Although it was a difficult time, Xiah said it strengthened her bond with God.
Although Xiah is proud of her faith, she told me that it is often difficult to find others who are as openly passionate about Christianity. Xiah said she struggles to find a youth group or a strong group of girls who share her faith that she enjoys spending time with. “The people you surround yourself with may or may not have the same beliefs, and that is somewhat difficult because it’s a test of your faith” she said. I asked her if she could ever date someone who isn’t religious, to which she responded, “Oh no.” She mentions that while she has dated people in the past who weren’t Christian, she wants her future relationships and marriage to be Christian-based.
Xiah admits that she isn’t perfect. But when it comes to the temptations many young people face, she believes that forgiveness is key. “Jesus will always give you forgiveness,” she said. She believes forgiveness is particularly important when it comes to staying connected to your faith when life gets busy. She suggests listening to worship music as a way to stay connected and find peace.
In one of my favorite moments of the interview, I asked, “If you could have lunch with God, what would be the first thing you would ask him? Where would you go?” Her response was the funniest thing in the world, because it seemed just like Xiah. She said she would be willing to let Jesus come “bake some snacks” in her home. She would ask him to stay with her for the rest of her life and keep her on track. One thing that struck me about Xiah’s faith is that she recognizes those people who consider themselves Christians but don’t embody the values. She disagrees with people who use Christianity as a reason for racism and other forms of discrimination. “It is important to accept people for who they are. Christianity isn’t a reason to hate their choices as it’s a complete throw away of Christian values.”