This past Sunday was Confirmation. I didn’t really see anyone get confirmed because I went to the early service where there was communion and I could hear people over the sound of the praise band. I’m an eighty year old woman trapped in a twenty-five year old’s body. Deal with it.
I got to thinking about my own confirmation. I know I was confirmed with Sam Langhorne and other people. I remember that ALL of my siblings told me that my “What Confirmation Means to Me” paper was way better than theirs. I remember that infamous moment in which I actually thought that my Grandma O had bought me Easter cards because I was so shocked that she’d given me the wrong card/gift. The memories are nice, but I’ve really been thinking about what I wish someone would have told me when I was confirmed.
I wish someone would have told me
- that sometimes I’d be the only Christian in the room and I would not feel as confident as Paul. At fourteen, I had four years of a Lutheran high school and four years of a Lutheran college ahead of me. I sat in this bubble of false security, and instead of taking the opportunity to real dig in deep with my faith, I thought I knew it all. Even as someone who didn’t lose my faith directly after confirmation, I still viewed it as a finish line instead of a starting line. I wish someone would have told me that my adventures in living a Christian life were just beginning. Or, if someone told me that, I wish I’d have listened.
- one day I’d work in completely secular businesses, and I’d feel lost and insecure 90% of the time. The real world was a huge culture shock for me. I’d spent my whole life surrounded by mostly Christians. And while Christians are never perfect, they do live and think differently from other groups of people. It’s so hard to stand firm when you’re suddenly around lots of people who don’t share your core beliefs and you’ve put your faith on the back burner. Suddenly, everything’s all “Am I doing what I should be doing? Everything feels wrong.”
- my church attendance would drop in college. I thought I’d be different. I thought I’d be the perfect little Christian that everyone always treated me as. In fact, Christian Life is way more up and down than I believed. More than that, Christian life is an active choice. My salvation may have nothing at all do with my actions and have everything to do with what Christ did for me, but I still have to wake up every morning and actively drown the old Adam. I have to, daily, answer the question, “I have salvation, what am I going to do with it?”
- things don’t get easier. They get confusing and blurred. You start seeing Christians doing bad things and unbelievers doing good things. The older I get and the more independent I become, the more life tries to pull me in a thousand different directions. The Christian path is often blocked by trees of indecision and shrubbery of false truths. Sometimes that sword of the Spirit isn’t being jabbed into the heart of the Beast. Sometimes you gotta use it to cut back all of the BS so you can see where your next step is.
- It’s hard not to follow what everyone else is doing. Admitting that you want to do what other’s is even harder. There’s this hard exterior I built up for myself that shows the world this perfect, put-together Christian. Aren’t I so perfect? I’m not. I want to drink in excess. I want to have sex. I want to scream and curse and gossip. I want meaningless relationships. I want to hold grudges and be hateful. I want these to fulfill me, but I also know they won’t because I’ve had a taste of the perfect life. I’ve seen glimpses of God’s glory and that’s something you can’t shake. It’s a taste that sinful life can’t satisfy. It’s like everyone around you eating vegan lasagna and making fun of you for not eating vegan lasagna. All you ever hear about is stupid vegan lasagna until, even though steak is on your plate, you start craving vegan lasagna too. You don’t know why. You don’t like it. But part of you needs it and part of you hates it. And why isn’t anything ever easy? Why can’t you just eat the steak (which you know is so far superior that it’s crazy people would even compare the two) and be happy? Sin makes everything suck, true story.
- I should probably read the Bible in it’s entirety.
Whaaaaaat? Crazy talk. You mean listening to the Bible readings in church doesn’t count as sitting down with the Bible and really delving into the Word of God on a personal level? You mean that the LCMS doesn’t have Bible studies for single females in their twenties who don’t want to get married or have children and have been going to church for their whole life and are craving meat and potato Bible study rather than formula milk Bible study? I might not know what the Bible says on a certain topic because I haven’t read the Bible for myself? The idea of reading the Bible seems foreboding to my sinful nature and overwhelming just by looking at the size of it. I’ve been reading two chapters a day in the morning and it’s been the greatest decision of my life. I wish that someone would have clued me into the fact that I could enjoy reading the Bible. Or that reading small portions of it daily is perfectly fine and really great for your faith walk. Also, Paul is frickin’ great. I love that guy. He has sass and fire, and I wonder why I put this off for so long because it’s the greatest part of my day. Sitting quietly with God is the greatest blessing (besides salvation) that I’ve ever been given.
- going to church on my own is not a chore and it’s not a given. It is an active decision I make not even on Sunday morning, but starting on Saturday night. I’ve put thought into which service I want to go to and if the church is fulfilling my spiritual needs. Going to a church that my dad doesn’t preach at is it’s own blog post, but I’ve stopped going to a church that wasn’t meeting my needs. Not all churches were created equal, and I had to actively find one that helped me with my relationship with God. But it’s not just an active choice. It’s a rewarding choice. I wish I knew how necessary it would become to go to church. I wish I had that passion as a kid. I don’t think I could have because I didn’t have to endure as a kid what I’ve had to endure in my few years as an adult. Jesus saves, not just in the grand forgiveness of sins, but in the day to day surviving life. Constant connection to Him has become vital.
- that my confirmation verse would become the biggest battle in my life. I chose my confirmation verse because my dad said it was my Uncle Paul’s confirmation verse, a firm foundation, clearly. It’s Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Fun Fact: It’s really easy to fearlessly proclaim that you are a Christian when you have only ever gone to schools with Lutheran in the title. It’s not as easy when your favorite coworker is gay, and that one person only ever makes fun of people who are religious, and everyone who says their opinions always have opinions that are completely opposite of your own. I have prayed so many times since entering the workforce that God would use me to help someone come to faith. I prayed that they would see me and my life and that the Holy Spirit would plant that seed of faith. I prayed that they’d grow and develop a relationship with Christ. But it’s not until this last year that I’ve actually been overtly vocal about my faith. You see, people just see me as a good person unless I tell them I’m a Christian. I’m faith-blocking the Holy Spirit if I don’t tell people that I am who I am because I’m a saved and redeemed child of God. I’ve just started to look at people and say, “I’m Lutheran. I believe in God. I go to church. I love Jesus.” It’s scary and intimidating, but also there’s this surge of brilliance that follows the fear. Nothing feels as amazing as doing what God has designed for us to do. I think it’s because you never have to worry that you should have done something different. You’ve done exactly the right thing with no regret. I had no idea that the words “I am not ashamed of the gospel” would become the central point to God’s purpose in my life. I didn’t realize that those words would become my battle cry in this craziness that is being a believer. It’s so awesome in ways that words would fail if I tried to describe it.
And as I think of all these things, I pray for the confirmands this year at all churches across the board. I pray that this isn’t the finish line for them. I pray they see it as the start of something amazing. I pray that even though things get difficult or complicated or confusing that God will give them the strength to persevere and that God will never fail to draw them to him, especially when they stray. I pray that they use what they’ve learned in confirmation classes to go out into the world and share with others while using what they’ve learned as building blocks to learn more. I pray that at the end of it all, we’ll all be cheering for Christ when he returns.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.