It’s freshman year, me and my friend Keith are sitting on our side of the dorm room trying to figure things out. Up until a week ago we were told we were rooming with each other, which was awesome and had us both thrilled, however on move in day there was a third person who walked into the room with a bag on his back, his name Jesse. Me and Keith were trying to figure out just who this mysterious guy was, he seemed older, witty, and he watched Foxnews, CNN, and Comedy Central which was confusing to say the least. Long story short we all three came to grow pretty close. Everyday seemed to bring a new memory (whether good, bad, or ones that led to stories that I’ve told hundreds of times). One of the things that made it so cool, was that there were so many reasons why, by society’s standards, we shouldn’t have been friends. I was by all means a conservative, sure I consider myself pretty middle on many subjects, but in the grand scheme of things I’m still pretty right leaning. Jesse was liberal on many subjects. As far as faith goes I came into college as a huge Christian. I had volunteered at Three Crosses for a couple of summers, I helped out at a Hispanic mission, I was in a Christian band, and the school I attended had taught me the Bible from kindergarten and had given me so many modern day examples of God acting miraculously. Jesse on the other hand was an atheist who looked to science to give a reasonable explanation to everything in the world. As we lived together though it amazed me how well we got along. Every time we’d go to a gas station he’d offer to buy us something, every time I told him about something our church was doing he seemed to be interested in it, and everytime a friend of mine or family member of mine came to visit the room Jesse was always as nice as could be. And as far as witty, he’d try to explain scientific things to me and I’d just nod in agreement (always thinking to myself “wow I feel really stupid right now”). When freshmen year finally came to a close I left CSU a lot deeper in my faith, because of an atheist, for a few reasons.
A huge reason was how he treated others and his respect for others. It was incredible how many fellow classmates saw my accomplishments and outreach work as unimpressive. It was disheartening to be at a Christian college where it seemed like so many people viewed me as nothing special. But with Jesse it was different, he was blown away when he found out I served on my Town’s Council and he always seemed to be interested with what we were doing at my church. And as far as religion we never had an argument about it. There was always a respect for each others beliefs, even though we disagreed, there was never a hateful comment made between us.
Another thing was his cleverness. I think a lot of times Christians view nonbelievers as idiots, but I didn’t see Jesse as an idiot. In the field of science he was pretty clever, I’m not sure if he was super smart or if I was just that ignorant, but he taught me new theories and experiments all of the time. He was anything but an idiot.
Finally, it was something he said one of the last nights we were in the dorm room together that has stuck with me. We had stayed up talking when he told how incredible it was when he saw Christians acting so brotherly to others, he said it was amazing how Christians would go out of their way to help their brothers and strangers. And for the rest of the evening it was stuck in my head. The biggest reason being, an atheist, someone that some churches preach to be the scum of the earth, was impressed by something that even many Christians find too crazy to live out.
At the end of my freshman year, I did indeed leave college with a stronger faith and better grasp on what my faith was about. My advisor had helped, some professors helped, and a few friends helped, but one of the biggest reasons, was all because of one, single, atheist.