Read how different religions have impacted the lives of three SHS students

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Molly Balison, Web Staff

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Senior Yeo Won Yarnell, Christian

When did you become a Christian?

“I made the decision to follow Jesus at an early age, but as I’ve grown and matured, I’ve made Him more of a priority. I believe that becoming a Christian is about having a relationship with God. It is a daily choice to continue building that relationship as you would with any of your friends or family.”

How does having a relationship with God change the way you live your life?

“My relationship with God is what defines me. It is my identity. I believe that because he is my creator, the closer in relationship I am with Him the more of my true self I become. Because He says I am worthy, I am worthy. Because He loves me I am sure I am loved and can love others more effectively. By placing my identity in God, who is eternal and unchanging, I will always have hope, joy, and peace no matter how devastating the situation.”

Do you share your faith with others? In what ways do you accomplish this?

“I share my faith with others in many different ways, but I try to do it all through love. Whether I’m sharing my faith through actions or words, the message I hope that people always walk away with is that they are loved whether they believe or not. When I am sharing my faith, my goal isn’t to convert them so I can check my good disciple box. My goal is to share the love that I experience by choosing to let God lead my life.”

What is challenging about having faith?

“The most challenging thing about my faith is probably dealing with the stereotypes that come with it. In my experience, Christians are seen as hypocritical, arrogant, judgmental, boring etc. It’s hard being labeled as soon as I say “I’m a Christian.” There have no doubt been Christians who have done bad things. I myself have done many things I am not proud of, but I don’t think my mistakes define me or God. I try to remember there is no such thing as a “good Christian” but followers of God. My hope is that through communication and education these stereotypes will no longer inhibit understanding and relationships between people. Not just religious stereotypes, but all stereotypes in general.”


Anonymous, Buddhist

What are some of your fundamental beliefs?

“Buddhism is a very wide and diverse religion. Different groups believe different things. The beauty of Buddhism is that each individual is supposed to evaluate each of their own beliefs and sort of pick and choose their own values. For example, some people avoid harming anything sentient, but other people, like myself, still eat meat. It’s all up to personal interpretation! None of the beliefs are wrong; there’s no set rules or central text.

However, the general belief can be summed up in the four main ideas, which are called the Noble Truths. Basically, suffering is inevitable, no matter how well off you are. Suffering is caused by want. For example, if you have a crush on someone and they don’t like you, you are sad. That sadness stems from a want and if you hadn’t wanted it in the first place, you wouldn’t be sad. The third truth is that true happiness and removal from suffering is possible (this is Nirvana). The cessation of suffering is achieved by following the eightfold path, which stresses not harming others, being honest, taking care of yourself and other similar items. Keep in mind that this a very simplistic version of the religion. Buddhism is very old, very complex, and very personalized. You can’t really group it into umbrella beliefs.

As for me, I fully believe in the Four Noble Truths and other beliefs including reincarnation and karma! There is also smaller beliefs that I take part in. For example, Buddhists typically own a statue of Buddha (Sidhartha Gautama), but it isn’t considered ok to buy yourself one; they are supposed to be a gift! Because of that, I never have bought myself one, even though I don’t have any and most Buddhists do.”

How long have you been Buddhist?

“I have been Buddhist for several years!”

Is there anyone in your life you has inspired you to pursue this religion?

“There was no one who influenced me and I found it on my own after struggling with some of my personal views on Christian beliefs. I don’t dislike any religion, but I just personally had a difficult time believing in a deity.”

How do you think you live your life differently from people who are not religious?

“I think I can be more conscious about how I treat others and how others treat me, since karma is a central belief in Buddhism. However, I don’t attend any services or go to a monastery, although I would love to!”

Are there certain things you do on a daily or weekly basis to practice your beliefs?

“I don’t practice in anyway except for trying to distance myself from material wants and making conscious choices on how I treat others, as well as myself. I try to have good intentions with all I do!”

How has being Buddhist helped you in life and what is challenging about it?

“Being Buddhist has allowed to me focus on taking care of myself and be more oriented towards things that matter to me: connections with humans and the world. I feel like I have balanced my stress a lot more. However, I haven’t been able to relate to many people in the area and actually haven’t met a fellow Buddhist in Sandpoint. I haven’t had any bad interactions with people, but people do stereotype Buddhism or don’t understand it. It takes a bit of explaining but is usually rewarding in the end!”


Junior Abbey Freebairn, LDS

Have you grown up in the church?

“Yes, I was born into the church.”

Are there things you do on a daily or weekly basis to practice your beliefs?

“I study the Book of Mormon daily and attend seminary every day. Sunday’s I attend church.”

How does having a relationship with God change the way you live your life?

“Having a relationship with God helps me feel comfort during struggles and it makes me want to live the way he wants me to live so I can live with him again some day.”

Do you share your faith with others? If so, in what ways do you accomplish this?

“Yes, when my friends or others have questions about my religion, I do my best to answer their questions or do some searching if I can’t answer right away. I also occasionally post scriptures or quotes from LDS leaders and inspirational speakers on my social media.”

What is beneficial about having faith and what is challenging about it?

“Having faith is a very important part of my life! It allows me to have hope and strength. It’s sometimes hard to keep the standards especially in a world that lives a total different lifestyle.”

How has being LDS impacted your day to day life?

“Being LDS impacts my day to day life because I feel close to God and Christ as I live the way they want me to. And I can be surrounded by such wonderful people who are also members of the church!”