Friday, May 2, 2014

When I Joined the Church

I have just returned from the Confirmation Class retreat at Valle Crucis, a great place tucked away in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, where we have been taking our Confirmation students for as long as I can remember. The retreat never comes up short.  It is always a meaningful experience for our youth and for all of us adults who have the privilege of being along for the ride. If you have ever had a child experience confirmation at Sardis, then you know firsthand how this retreat is a memorable part of their faith journey and spiritual development.  

All of these things made me think back to my own confirmation experience. Truth is my parents made me attend, even against my objections and arguing. I never told them, but once I got into the flow, I actually found myself looking forward to the Bible study each week.  
To this day, however, I cannot remember one single lesson. I don’t remember which Bible verses we had to memorize, just that we had to stand and recite them to the minister, a terrible fate for an eighth grader! I do remember that at the end of the year, we had a test on the Bible. Now that will send shivers down the spine of any middle school young person. I don’t remember my grade, but I must have passed. They let me join the church.
 I don’t remember any of my confirmation teacher’s names. It seems like I don’t remember much at all about that time, but that is not the case.
Even though I can’t tick off the names of the adults who taught the class, I do remember their kindness and goodness. I remember how they seemed to have so much faith, while also being honest about their doubts and questions. I remember how they took the time to know me by name, talk with me, and make me feel like I belonged. They made me feel like I was important to God and that God loved me specifically. They helped me understand that the most important gift I could ever give back to God was my own love. When you come to think about it, isn’t that the point of confirmation?   
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
What do you remember about your confirmation classes? How did the leaders make you feel?  What impact did they have on your faith development as a young person? Does that experience still have an impact on your life today?

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