By Kate Beecham, Mikell Summer Staffer & UGA Student
Each day you wake up a version of yourself senior to the one that had fallen asleep the night before. Time passes, and consequently we grow up. Aging is a reality that is ingrained in our humanity, and rarely do we give it much conscious thought. However, this unavoidable truth has a tendency to sneak up on us at unexpected times and completely dominate our thoughts. We are forced to take stock over where we’ve been, where we are going, and what we are doing in the mean time.
This past weekend I attended DYC up at Camp Mikell. Unlike most of my friends who have grown up going to Camp Mikell, I was a horrible homesick camper and decided that camp was not my thing after day one. Now as a young adult, I spend a lot more time up at camp, constantly creating memories off of new experiences. Camp isn’t a place that takes me back to the good ol’ days, but rather allows me to live them in real time. So I was surprised when I found myself amidst one of these “taking stock” experiences at camp. It was the first night of DYC and I was the last one to move my things into the cabin. The only bed that was still open was one I had stayed in 3 years before, when my life was a complete 180 from the one I’m living today. I felt as if my 17-year-old self and my 20-year-old self were standing face to face, not even realizing whom the other was. I’d like to name college as the driving force behind all this change.
Going off to college is the first time for many of us that we are able to make decisions for ourselves, which can have a kaleidoscopic array of outcomes. For many young adults who grew up in the church, we now tend to find ourselves not only distant from the 8am wake-up calls on Sunday morning to make it to the service on-time, but also from the faith life that we once practiced habitually.
At DYC this past weekend, a group of 20 young adults came together to discuss the realities of being a college student and an Episcopalian, and what our role in the church looks like. Our small group consisted of different religious faiths, different stages in life, and different cities from all over the southeast. Yet we all seemed to be facing the same issue: our involvement in the church wasn’t what it used to be. Is this because we don’t seem to relate to the current programs being offered? Have we decided that church isn’t a number one priority with this phase in our life? Well whatever the reason, the Church has noticed. The Diocese of Atlanta has seen with their own eyes that the number of 20-somethings are diminishing from the pews and they are ready to do something about it. We talked in small group about how we want to grow in our faith, whether that means having a weekly bible study that challenges us to think a little deeper, or going out for coffee with someone who will listen to what’s on our mind that day.
I know for me I have let my faith slip behind the demands of nursing school and working shifts in the hospital. I keep my mind so busy that sometimes the thought of going to church doesn’t even cross my mind on a Sunday morning. But when I think about my future and when the “right” time to start going to church again will be, I don’t see my life slowing down anytime soon. Next will be graduation, working a full time job as an RN, going to grad school, hopefully getting married, having kids... If I can’t make my faith a priority now, when will if? When I imagine being a mom one day, I think about the unconditional love, excitement, hope, and joy I feel for my child. I wonder if one day I will have another “taking stock” moment, realizing that there is an awesome God that feels all those same things MULTIPLIED for me (His Child), but I have missed out on opportunities to grow in relationship with him because of the craziness of life and the freedom to make my own choices.
So why does all this matter? Because now is the time to prioritize. Now is the time to ask and wonder about our faith. Now is the time to see if the church has an active role in our lives again because the Church is reaching out to us. They are looking for places to meet us half way. The Diocese of Atlanta wants to discover ways to love up on the young adults and fill us with the support, guidance, information that we need. So keep an eye out. Check the Diocesan website for events that you might be interested in. Stay open-minded for an invitation that you might find it easy to pass you by. Try to reimagine what your college life might look like if you allow yourself the opportunity to become rooted in a community that greets you with open arms and a God that knows you by name.