Photo by Anna Dierks
The classic iPhone buzz went off, and I rolled over, prepared to slam snooze like I do every other day of the week. I began to wonder why I might be waking up on a non-school day. I got a sharp nudge from my friend to end the blaring noise. Reality settled in, and I got out of bed.
It was Sunday morning, and I knew I had to be at church in 45 minutes.
An hour later I get the usual text: “Why do you wake up so early? It’s the weekend!” or “Thanks for waking me up with your alarm.”
Church has always been a part of my routine; I appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and the consistent positivity. Being able to sit and contemplate encouraging words for an hour has never been something I’ve taken for granted. However, I’ve found that religion is not the source of peace for a lot of people.
When I claim Christian beliefs, my peers sometimes ask why I’m not forcing my religion on them or judging their behavior. I don’t view religion in that way at all. I don’t know when or why Christianity began to catch an extreme and exclusive reputation because that is never the way I’ve experienced it. To me, religion is not something I need to push onto other people, but rather something I can enjoy personally.
As an active member in the Presbyterian church, I’ve found church to be an especially inclusive place. On Sunday mornings, I team up with others to collect the sign-in sheets from the pulpits and write letters of thanks and invitation to our first time visitors. Last weekend, I met with fifty other Presbyterian youth and adults in North Carolina to plan a summer conference that encourages teenagers of all religious backgrounds and upbringings to attend. This fall, I will be involved with my youth groups “Student Leadership Team,” which looks to include new students in our Sunday night worship.
I hang out at my church and go to the services every week because I find comfort in hearing encouraging sermons and seeing some of my favorite people. Church is a place where I’m not bombarded by the bad news on my television and can take a deep breath. Youth group is a place where I can disconnect from my homework load on a Sunday night and catch up with some of my friends.
This inclusive community is so important to me in a world where violence, gossip and hate are so prevalent. I find church to be my place of hope when the world becomes overwhelming and discouraging.
My religion is truly what has shaped so much of my life. So, as long as I am able to do so, I’ll continue to reject my snooze button and get myself to church on the weekend.