My oldest daughter was just home for a short visit. She’s a senior in college now, and about to turn 21. I thought I would take the opportunity to ask her in person about how her faith life as a child and teen helps her in her life as an adult-ish type person.
Yes, it’s true, I have a hard time calling her an adult.
When we had Nia almost 21 years ago, we lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We did not attend church regularly. My husband and I are both Episcopalian from birth, and attended church regularly until college. Other than attending when we were at home, we both took an extended break from church. Neither of us felt compelled to find and join a faith community until we joined our church 13 years ago.
Nia was very active in our church, and went on to play guitar at our family service, acolyte, work on VBS, etc. She was active in diocesan youth programs, and served as our diocesan camp counselor for two summers. I thought she would find some kind of faith community up there. She didn’t.
Nia: I got to BGSU and there were a bunch of church groups that are not very liked unless you are super-religious. I got the vibe that I wasn’t cool to go to church or be involved with churchy things. I felt like I had to choose one life or another when I got there. I didn’t understand until later that I didn’t really have to choose. Being a person of faith is a personal thing for people, and it can be for me.
Me: What prevented you from going to church? There’s an Episcopal church right on campus.
Nia: The groups that I saw on campus had names like H2O and Crew. I didn’t see anything that looked like what I was used to at church. I didn’t see the Episcopal Church advertising what they were doing, and it’s kind of far to walk there from where I lived. It just wasn’t visible or accessible.
Me: I get it. It’s ok. So how, if at all, does your faith upbringing help you, particularly since you don’t have a faith community up there [at college]?
Nia: My faith upbringing has made it easier for me to sustain a relationship with God that I’m happy with because it is purely what I want to do. The ways I pray are the ways I pray. I don’t need anyone to tell me how to do it. I know deep within that I should show kindness, forgiveness, and thoughtfulness to others. I have the foundation, and now that I’m on my own, I can do these things in my own way.
So friends, take heart. When you’re not sure if what you’re doing is making a difference, put those doubts and fears aside. Keep doing what you’re doing, especially when you feel it’s going awry. An authentic faith is one that isn’t always easy, and may not look like what you thought it would. But when you help your child build their faith foundation, you’re providing something for them that’s tough to erode.
I pray that you and yours find a faith like Nia’s – one that’s authentically yours. I pray that someday, like her parents before her, she reconnects with why church – not only faith – matters.
How do you discuss faith matters with your adult children?