We all have convictions. Whether it’s an unwavering belief in a certain political issue, or an adamant belief in a Higher Being, we all have convictions. It’s what we do with them that matters.

I know in my own life, convictions are important. Or, at least, I like to think they’re important. I can walk around every day and say, “Oh yeah, God is real. I know He is. Every fiber of my being believes it to be true.” But what if that is as far as my convictions go?

Let’s say something difficult happens in my life. It’s not too hard to imagine. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m a 20 year old college student with Major Depressive Disorder- among other things. So in the wake of this hypothetical difficulty, I can do one of two things- I can stick to my convictions and rely on God, or I can run away and retreat into myself. More often than not, I’m afraid, I am prone to the latter. The thought of relying on anything- even the One who created all things and loves me with a love that I will never comprehend- seems too much to handle. In the midst of this hypothetical hard time, my mind goes straight to self preservation. That means that I close myself off and try to minimize the damage. Does that mean I abandoned my convictions? Or am I simply holding on to the only thing that I know to be true- myself?

What about when we have a certain conviction against something? Say, for example, that I have an issue with drugs (I do, as a matter of fact, have a problem with drugs. I think they’re dumb and illegal for a good reason). Now let’s say that someone we are close to not only doesn’t have the same conviction, but actually acts in a way that contradicts our conviction. In this case, we will say one of my close friends has a problem with drugs- and doesn’t see it as a problem (remember- this is hypothetical). Do I stick to my convictions and approach them about it? According to the very definition of a conviction, this is something that I believe very strongly against, and for me to attempt to ignore that would only create friction in the future. But at the same time, what if it didn’t? What if I was able to simply live and let live? Sure, the argument could be made that this was going against my convictions, but what effect does it have on me if someone I know is doing drugs? As long as they keep me out of it and do it to where I won’t notice, what does it matter?

But I will still know. This hypothetical situation can be put off for an indefinite amount of time, but at some point I am going to realize that it does in fact bother me. This person that I have a close relationship with is doing something that I feel very strongly against, and because of this I feel that they do not support my conviction. I’m not being close minded, I just know that at some point, the way that they are living is going to mess with my convictions. So once again, I must abandon my convictions or else communicate my discomfort with my friend.

I’m not saying that every conviction is going to set us apart from our friends. Religious beliefs (or lack thereof), while being some of the strongest convictions, can, for example, easily be diverse among a group of friends and not create an issue. It’s the other convictions- the ones based on habits or actions- that can create issues. These can set us apart. So do we let them? Do we let our convictions separate us from those around us?

It’s easy to say live and let live. But can we really do it without abandoning our convictions?

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