The summer going into 8th grade, I participated in a three night away camp with a couple friends through the Young Life organization. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with Young Life, but it is a Christian Organization for the youth. Although I had a great couple of days at the camp filled with fun activities and meeting new people, I did not completely agree with their message.
In one of the sermons delivered to the group, a man talked about letting God into your life. But he said the ONLY way you can truly have a good relationship with God, is if you are willing to sacrifice ALL the important things in your life. He talked about losing friends and thinking about God in every decision that you make throughout the day, and only then could you have a good relationship with God. He made it seem as if there was only one route you could take to achieve this relationship.
I was only 14 and at the time this sounded quite a lot like becoming a nun, which wasn’t my agenda. It did not really resonate with me; his message felt confining and polarizing, but of course I still wanted God to be part of my life.
The following year, I started my confirmation process at Kenilworth Union Church. Confirmation is a time when you decide what role you want faith to play in your life. I knew I wanted God to be a part of my life but wasn’t sure exactly how. Kenilworth Union provided a comfortable home for me to explore my own faith with Katie and Silvi always there to answer questions and help guide me down my new path. This was important because everyone’s faith and relationship with God is different. This is what I love so much about this Church; it provides a foundation of flexibility and you can bite off as much as you can chew.
There are a range of people from just the CEO’s…Christmas and Easter only…to the people that are here every Sunday and involved with the church throughout the week. Everyone’s relationship with God and faith waxes and wanes at some point in their life, but either way, Kenilworth Union is always a place that welcomes you with open arms, regardless of where you are on your journey.
In high school I became involved in the mission trip program called IMPACT. My first trip was to Jamaica two summers ago, and then Belize last summer. These two trips have been some of the best times of my life.
During my first trip to Jamaica, I was uncomfortable the first few days, and eager to get back home. But just six days later, I never wanted to leave the place. Not just because of where we were but because of the relationships I had made with the locals and the fellow IMPACT members. We spent times laughing and crying, all while in a constant drip of sweat from the Jamaican humidity. No one cared what they looked like, and there were no phones or social media to distract anyone. Whether I was interacting with the locals, or my fellow peers and leaders, we all had our own faith journey.
While some were much more religious than others, we all still had a common bond that allowed us to connect. IMPACT has become another home for me to further my faith journey. Next month we will be going to Cuba and I could not be more excited.
This past school year as a senior at New Trier, I began the whole college process. Balancing regular school work, applying to schools, maintaining a social life, and still having time to spend with family was very difficult at times. At points it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But as my grandmother, Mumsy says, “To worry is to not have faith.” I learned that sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time and trust that things will work out. They may not work out as you imagined, but it always does end up being okay.
Before I wrap up, this is a quote I’d like to share that was given to me after confirmation and has been sitting next to my bed since.
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.