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The Courage to Challenge My Fears

Photo of Marisa Hope Champion
Photo by Ron Nickel.

by Marisa Marcenaro
Gaylord, Mich.

When I was a little girl, I heard Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the first time while my mom was watching a movie about Tina Turner. Over the years, that phrase stuck with me. Somehow, I knew that it was important.

At the end of 2019, while taking a group picture, rather than yell out “Say cheese!” someone said, “Say Nam-myoho-renge-kyo!” There, I was introduced to an SGI member, and I attended my first district meeting the next day. At that meeting, I was so moved by the familylike atmosphere and the support and love I felt from everyone.

For most of my life, I’d been stuck in this perpetual mind frame about my future. I’d always known that my dream was to be a peer recovery coach, someone who helps people who are seeking recovery from substance use disorder, and I had been certified in 2018 to be one. However, I couldn’t find the courage to pursue it because I was so afraid of failing.

All of that began to change when I started chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Chanting gave me the courage of a lion. And I felt absolute conviction in the members’ voices.

By chanting honestly about what was holding me back, I mustered the courage to ask for advice on my résumé, submitted it and was hired for my dream job!

Now, I use my Buddhist practice to challenge those things that scare me and conquer my fears. I’m seeing that I have the power within myself to change my life for the better. I don’t have to sit back and watch it all unfold like a spectator of my life.

At the opening of the Detroit Buddhist Center on Sept. 12, 2021, I finally received the Gohonzon with all of the wonderful members who supported me over the last two years.

I’m determined to be the best peer recovery coach I can, live a life of recovery and renewal, and share Nichiren Buddhism with many others!

Each Instant Contains Incredible Possibilities

LISTEN: The Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture on Buddhism, Music and Collaboration