by Kaylie Zapanta
As a woman of Christ, I used to feel like I was living a double life. Working as a researcher in medicine, I felt as though I was betraying God by pursuing science. Life in academia is objective, cerebral, and often without spiritual influence. It never felt possible for my faith to be integrated into my career as a scientist because of the assumption that science doesn’t involve God’s presence. On the other hand, I felt as though I wasn’t a ‘real scientist’ by acknowledging God’s presence outside of the lab. So how could I possibly serve God or share His love in a field that is often presumed to be secular?
Still, I always wanted to be a scientist, to investigate questions about the human body and to teach it to others. Growing up, I’d often ask God questions like ‘How do our bodies use food for energy?’ or ‘How do our cells regenerate and grow?’ Naturally, this inquisitive nature led me down the path of research and, in order for me to answer these questions, I knew had to study Human Physiology and medicine. I felt deep down that He called me to pursue this career, to help others learn more about how their bodies function so they can take the reins of their health and live more flourishing lives. Given the passion I’ve always had for holistic health and fitness, I decided to study Exercise Science to prove through research that exercise is medicine for the body, mind, and spirit, particularly for individuals suffering from disease.
We live in a world where science and God have been separated. If you believe in God, then you can’t possibly acknowledge science. If you consider and acknowledge science, then you must not be a person of faith.
Given the disconnect I felt between faith and science, I spent the first few years of my academic training scared to talk about my faith to my peers. I assumed that the best way for me to pursue this call God had placed on my heart was to separate my work from my faith.
But here’s the thing—God IS science.
While it’s easy to assume that becoming a scientist would separate me from God, science has actually strengthened my faith immensely! As I dive deeper into the research I do every day, it becomes increasingly clear that the human body has been intelligently and thoughtfully designed by our Creator. Every time I learn about a new cellular pathway or metabolic process, there is no doubt in my mind that God created it, and I see His hand in every part of Human Physiology.
For a long time, I felt discouraged, as if I was ‘wrong’ for choosing a career path in science because that did not fit the mold of a typical Christian woman. So, I remained silent. I’d quietly praise Jesus every morning before work, and then take off my ‘faith hat’ and replace it with my ‘science hat’ before leaving to go to the lab. I separated my faith from my job, and it hurt my heart. I wanted to share my faith with others, to live out my Truth and integrate my faith into my research. But I felt trapped by fear, suffocating under my assumption that compartmentalizing my faith from my work was the best way for me to succeed as a scientist.
I’ve recently felt this tug on my heart from God not only to continue to pursue my career to further science as a woman of faith, but that He needs me to share my faith in academia, unencumbered and vulnerably. Particularly within the last year or so, I’ve come to realize that I’m not living a double life. Instead, I feel as though God has called me to be a woman of faith in the scientific community to bridge the gap between science and God.
God doesn’t just need me. He needs other women like me working in science and medicine to be leaders of faith in the scientific community! I’m sure many women of faith feel the same way—like they’re living a double life if they pursue other careers that involve medicine or science, versus ministry. Not only should we, as female scientists, researchers, and medical professionals be unafraid to speak openly about our faith when we work, it is our job as women in science to live out our faith in Christ courageously, and to let God’s light shine through us into the work we do, of which is carefully and thoughtfully guided by His hands!
Kaylie Zapanta, MS, is a research scientist currently studying gut health, exercise physiology, and neurologic disease in Los Angeles. She is also an online fitness coach and nutrition coach dedicated to implementing scientifically backed programs to help women improve their strength, digestion, and relationship with their bodies. Born and raised in Southern California, she loves praising Jesus through music and writing, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends anywhere near a beach with great food and some sunshine! Kaylie's mission is to integrate science into nutrition and exercise programs to more effectively improve health and longevity.