Faith story: Marah Tews
St. Paul high school students share their faith stories during Sunday Night Live. Marah Tews is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School.
Freshman and sophomore year, I came to youth group a total of three times. I’d like to say it was because I had volleyball most Sunday nights, but even on the nights off, I still didn’t come and I’ve realized why. It was because coming to youth group was absolutely exhausting for me. Before our current Sunday Night Live (SNL) schedule of going to a small group before joining the large group, it was all one large group with 20 minutes of randomly assigned small groups. Not having a consistent small group made me feel like I didn’t need to be committed; like there there was no one who expected me there but Andy (Langdon, director of youth ministries). And that being the case, the 20 minute drive to the church proved “not worth it” to me.
Though I was wasn’t really connected to youth group, I decided to go on the 2013 youth mission trip to Minneapolis. I figured what the heck, I need to complete my service hours, and the mission trip is an easy way to knock them out. So I went. And found that I absolutely loved it. I could have stayed there for weeks on end. But the trip came to a close, and the school year began. That means so did the SNL year. This is the part where you’re probably expecting me to say I changed my ways and became uber committed to youth group. But I still didn’t go sophomore year. I still didn’t find myself committed and the drive still wasn’t worth it. I knew youth group was a place of no judgement, but I feared I just wasn’t as good of company as all the upperclassmen.
I went on the mission trip the next year as well, and I knew going into it that I still wasn’t going to go to SNL. Until it was announced that we would be changing up the organization of SNL, meeting with a consistent small group before going to the church to meet with the large. I saw people that I knew in my small group and for the frrst time in my SNL experience, I was excited about coming. I knew that if l tried it and still didn’t like coming to SNL, it wasn’t like I had to be committed. But that’s the thing, after that night, SNL became a commitment. Our small group was a family, there was silent expectation for attendance.
This is where my youth group life changed. I wasn’t drowning in people I didn’t know. I had my group of friends who I could actually talk to and laugh with. I felt like I had a place in the large group and was actually significant. I had finally put SNL in my schedule because the drive had become worth it to me.
Looking forward, outside my SNL life, I do fear that this will occur in college, that is the whole part where I’m a nobody and getting involved won’t be worth it. Yes, I definitely fear it. But the thing is, I know getting involved will be different this time. I have a firm grip on who I am, what I like and what I don’t. I have learned to go fearlessly with myself and I know acceptance and love will find me.
The Bible verse that is the most prominent of my life is also the one that seems to be permanent. I sat down with Andy a few weeks ago while he helped me find this faith story. After I started to really open up about my faith, there was a Bible verse he chose for me. I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that it’s the same one I chose for my confirmation.
Jeremiah 29: 11 – For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
I know who I am as a person and I know that God will guide me to what I’m meant to do. If faith life has taught me just one thing, it’s that I find myself through isolation, but I find God through relationships.