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Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Alyssa Boynton

From Creating the World to Changing It: What “God” Can’t Do

By Alyssa Boynton

I was raised to believe in God. I went to church on Sundays, read bible stories, and was always told that God loved me more than anyone else ever could. However, on the day of my mom’s cancer diagnosis and in the eight months to follow until her death, instead of praising his name, I found myself cursing it. I questioned why he would take someone so amazing from the world and from me. Many long nights were spent sprawled across my bed, staring at the ceiling, begging for another chance. I hated the being who was supposed to be my savior.

How was I to believe in a god who would take away my mother? I spent countless days thinking about how she would never be there to see me learn how to drive, graduate, get married, or have kids. Every big moment in my life would be missed, and it was all God’s fault. The only one who could save her was the one who had forsaken her, and I was left broken in the aftermath.

Outwardly, I was fine. Thriving, even, despite my harrowing loss. I was raised believing in God, but I was also raised knowing better than to question his authority. I’ve heard the cliche a thousand times: “It’s God’s plan.” We’re meant to find comfort in it, but to me it was just a meaningless platitude. I simply nodded each time I heard it, while inside I was questioning my core beliefs.

Eventually, I came to realize I never had a savior. There is no savior for me except myself. There was no savior for my mother, although the doctors did all that they could. I was angry at the people telling me that there was a god who loved me so deeply I could not even fathom it. I was angry at the church leaders, family and friends who encouraged me to put my trust in a being who was supposedly all-powerful, when I should have been learning to trust myself. But most of all, I felt sorry for them. I felt sorry because I was experiencing a new-found freedom, and they were left waiting for miracles that would never happen. They were left waiting for some higher power to fix their lives for them. I knew I must fix things for myself.

I threw myself into my studies and graduated as co-valedictorian. I joined activities such as drama, Knowledge Bowl, speech, and honor society and excelled in them. I realized that someday, I want to become a lawyer and advocate for those who cannot save themselves. I want to change the world, and I will do this with my own power. Not with the power of a god, or anyone

Alyssa Boynton

else. Through my rejection of religious faith, I realized that I have faith in myself and the people around me. We simply must all realize that if we desire change, it is our job to make it.

Alyssa, 18, is from Slayton, Minn., and will attend New College of Florida, double majoring in philosophy and psychology on a pre-law track. After graduation, she hopes to work as a lawyer for a nonprofit. Alyssa participated in Knowledge Bowl (two-time state participant), speech (two- time state competitor), drama and Minnesota Honor Society. She was a National Merit Commended Scholar, co-valedictorian and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.