Olivia came to us knowing pretty much nothing about God, faith, church, the Bible. She had gone to church a few times but nothing had really stuck. She knew we were a Christian family, but she just didn’t know what that meant. So, she began going to church with us. She sort of had to attend Sunday School because Jay and I facilitated an adult class and to get a ride home, Olivia had to stick around. She was receptive to learning the basics. She was curious and asked a lot of questions. The spring of her first year with us, we decided to go to the church one Sunday afternoon around Easter to watch the Passion of Christ. Oh my gosh! This might have been a big mistake! She sat between Jay and me and Jay kept a running whispering dialog in Olivia’s ear to try to explain everything that was happening in the movie. At the horrific part where Jesus is being whipped and his skin is coming off in strips, I saw tears start to trickle down Olivia’s face. I kept asking her if she wanted to leave and she kept shaking her head. All the way home, I worried it had been too much for her but actually, I think it was the first time it really sunk in who Jesus was and what He did for us, for me, and for her.
Olivia continued to learn from us, sermons and Sunday school teachers. I think it gradually seeped in but it stayed in her head – she just started to understand. Our church is great - somewhat formal and very conservative, with prayers from a prayer book. It is a comforting place to be – a beautiful structure, an extremely loving community, communion every service. During Olivia’s freshman year, a friend invited her to Young Life. I had suggested she attend but it took a friend to make it work. She loved it – the silliness, the fun-loving believers, the short, to-the-point, teenage-centric messages. The next summer, she went to Windy Gap, the Young Life camp in North Carolina and that is where it happened for her. All that stuff in her head went straight to her heart. She got it! She became close with a college aged leader who continues to be her friend and mentor – even to this day five years later. Olivia chose a college (Furman University in Greenville, SC) based on finding others with whom she could feel comfortable expressing her faith. Bottom line: You never know where it might come from that your child will get a great, holy leading – it may very well not be you – embrace it.