I'm twenty years old. I attend church more times per week than many people do per year. I teach Sunday school, and when I'm not teaching, I'm attending. I sing in the choir. I'm a member of the Emmaus community. I write this blog. I try earnestly to practice what I preach. No, I'm not bragging, just getting that all out there so this makes sense. But am I doing too much? Am I too spiritually mature for my age? I would hope not. While I strive to learn more and do more to grow in my faith, some people seem to think I'm too young to be this into my "church life"... whatever that means.
When people realize how involved I am in church, I hear one of two statements:
1. "Wow! I'm impressed that you find
the time to do all that AND go to
2. "You really should be more focused
on being a college kid. You should
enjoy being this young!"
All I know to do there is smile and try not to look uncomfortable. Now, I don't believe for even a second that anyone that says something like that to me means harm or insult. I think it's coming from a good place, always. But, I do think many people fail to realize that I'm in church because I WANT TO BE THERE. I love going to church. I love hugging the necks of people who are also choosing to be there. I love singing and working with the kids. I AM enjoying being this young. Just not the way I'm expected to.
I do, however, find it so sweet and humbling when I talk to people about my faith and my journey so far and they tell me they're 'shocked of my wisdom' and they 'wish they'd known that at twenty'. Even though I don't know what to say here, I'm absolutely giddy inside.
So why is it that most people assume I'm too young to seem to be so invested in my spiritual growth until they actually know how serious I am about it? Why is it so hard to believe that a twenty year old can learn from their mistakes and grow from them?
I think young people are so expected to keep making the same mistakes and just go on about their day. We're expected to focus on more worldly things and spend our time trying to prove that we're better than everyone. I think that much of the younger generation is so focused on friendships, dating, and the latest gossip that when the ones focused on God are encouraged to be young, we lose sight of what is really important. We lose motivation to strengthen our relationship with the Father and we base our worth solely on what other people think about us.
So what if we want to focus on our faith? Should we let doubts and what others think about us hold us back? NO.
"Don’t let anyone look down on you
because you are young, but set an
example for the believers inspeech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in
1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
If you want to be active in church, be active. If you want to tell others about the real, unconditional love of Christ, you tell them all about it. Use your youth to your advantage. Use your experiences, your lessons learned. Connect with others in any way you know how. Set an example for your friends and those younger than you. You might even be setting an example to those older than you. Whatever you do, don't let a fear of rejection get in your way. Keep your focus on God and he'll guide your path. He will never lead you through a storm and leave you there. Doors you may think you should go through will be slammed shut from time to time, but better, bigger doors always open wide. Keep your faith and love God with everything you have. I promise while you love Him with every breath, He loves you even more.
So the next time you second guess your abilities based on your age, remember that you wouldn't have been blessed with certain gifts and abilities if you were supposed to just chose not to use them. As soon as you figure your talents out, show them off and give God the glory! You are young, but more importantly, you are His.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving me the opportunities and the tools to praise you. While I may not know exactly who I am, I know that I will give you the glory. Please continue to give me opportunities to praise you. Please grant me the courage to be a disciple for you. Thank you for always loving me and guiding me. I love you, God. Amen