I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t vote. Who am I to make such a big decision? The thing I witnessed tonight, this meeting, this whole thing, makes me sad. For some, it makes them angry. For others, it makes them not want to listen. But for me, it just makes me sad. To boil it down for those not familiar with the situation, a meeting was brought up in front of the church to vote on a motion–whether or not one person should be allowed to be an exception to a rule. That rule involves an age limit, and this person would be allowed to exceed that for a period of roughly four months. This being a church meeting, I would have thought it would have gone differently–not the vote, but the actual meeting. I would have thought it wouldn’t have been personal, but rather a reflection of God. Sadly, I think God may have been forgotten as human nature took over. And, have you ever felt like something was happening that you’ve seen before? Something is happening and you’ve been there before? I’ve prayed about this and I could feel God tugging on me to say something, to explain something, but I didn’t get a chance. Emotions got heated and my opportunity was lost. So here is what I would have said if I had the chance. Take it for what it is.

I’ve grown up in this church, from birth on, and I’ve been through this before. As a child, you have promotion Sunday. Everyone congratulates you, you get a nice certificate and you move on to the next class. However, upon graduating high school, you have your last promotion ceremony, your last certificate. You’re expected to know where to go and to move on into the world, but it’s hard. I was probably the youngest 18-year-old of anyone. I didn’t drive, I wasn’t going immediately to college, but instead chose to take a semester off, and the world scared me. Youth is this amazing place where you build friendships and you feel comfortable to share your secrets. For me, adolescence was hard. Though I had grown up in the church, learning about the Bible, I wasn’t completely content in it. I was unconvinced by a God that to me, wasn’t there. Suffering from loss and insecurity, youth was my safe haven and upon graduation, I didn’t want to leave. Back then, the options consisted of going to a class with people old enough to be my parents or older, or stop coming. I chose the latter. Most of my friends were younger and remained in youth. Those that didn’t were away at college. A few months later, a young adult class was formed. After some coaching, I decided to give it a try. While that class didn’t last, a new one took over, followed by a new one, followed by none. Once again, I was expected to learn within an environment full of older people. Enter brief hiatus number two. Now, I’m not exactly sure what changed. Maybe I grew up, I don’t know, but my guess it was the people around me. I had some great mentors, ones that I felt truly cared. I would receive letters from the mother of a friend that encouraged me, letters that I will forever be grateful for. I also had two older men in the church that I looked up to, both of whom had been there when my family was reeling from the loss of my cousin due to cancer. Those people helped me, probably in ways that they’ll probably never know. And now, I’m in a new class, a class that I can say I’m grateful for. I hope others value it as much as I do and I hope those that are younger, that are about to be pushed out into the world, will welcome it with open arms. I hope they know the opportunity they have. I’m so grateful that I didn’t stay in my safe haven. I’m so grateful that I wasn’t an exception to a rule. If I had been, I might still be in that same place, a place filled with insecurity and sadness. A place no one should be in. But now, I’m afraid, that this new exception to the rule won’t get the chance I got. They won’t be forced to grow and learn about themselves. Because if you stay in one place too long, you become complacent, unwilling and un-trying to change. Sometimes, being uncomfortable is the only way to grow. And I hope you grow.

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