I asked them a single question.
“How have you experienced God?”
Many students did not feel comfortable answering, while others elaborated on the exact moment when God became real to them. Despite differences in belief, sect, and even overall religion, one by one, students explained how they view “higher powers.”
In the middle of the expected self-discovery occurring during the college years, many students on campus question their spirituality, and begin to create their own definitions and perceptions of God, in order to come to terms with the concept of faith.
[cross01] Elise Wagner, a history graduate student, is a practicing Christian Scientist who, unlike many others, unabashedly spoke about experiencing God.
“My father is a news photographer,” she began. “He was recently in a plane, taking pictures of Mt. Saint Helens erupting. The plane got too close, and ash was sucked into the plane’s carbonator. The plane stalled and dropped thousands of feet. My father and the pilot could do nothing humanly, but they could know Truth, and they did,” she continued. Just before it needed to land, the plane resumed, and everyone went home safely that evening. Some would say it was just a coincidence, but so many personal experiences lead me to believe it was God.”
The believers did not end with Elise. Robert Feisel, MSU alumnus, was raised Catholic but no longer belongs to a particular religious organization.
“I see God as being everything and everywhere, which implies that you and I are not only reflections but actually a part of God,” Feisel said. [symbols]
Like Feisel, Yasmin Osati has also strayed from the strict beliefs of her religion. The pre-med sophomore and Muslim clarified that although she doesn’t “look down on organized religion,” she feels that it just does not reach her on a personal level.
“Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day in Arabic,” she explained. “For a year, I did this, even though I do not know Arabic. It didn’t connect with me, so I began to pray in my own way.
“I see God as a very personal thing. I am more spiritual than religious. I ask God for help, and I am helped. As human beings we have a need to think of a higher power,” she said.
Osati also said she believes in God partly because of a near-tragedy that occurred within her family.
“My dad had a heart attack last year and almost died,” she said. “He pulled through, and it now perfectly fine. This is a miracle. In situations where everything can fall apart, but it ends up okay—that is a higher power. There are certain things that you just can’t explain,” she said.
Since church and state are supposed to be separate in our democracy, many people affiliate God with something personal, not something sanctioned or required. Though the answers from MSU’s students varied in length and content, not a single person felt their words described the presence of God just right.
“A relationship with God transcends human explanation,” Wagner said. “It’s a relationship more pure and true than with even the closest of friends or family.”

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