What place or people are you necessary, truly known, and committed to being a part of? For Briana Meade it is church. In this three-post series she writes “love letters to the church” touching on authenticity, community, and hope. 

This Part 3 of a three part series: Love Letters to the Church from a Millennial. Access the rest of the series here:

Being Needed | Being Known | Being Committed


 

 

Recently, my husband and I were at lunch around the corner from his office. We were talking about our lives as twenty-somethings. “It feels to me,” I said, then paused, “. . . like we make choices every day and those choices eliminate other paths we could have taken.”

 

Chris nodded.

 

“Kind of like a Subway menu,” I said. “We’ve chosen the wheat bread and the turkey sub, and we’re well on our way to a turkey sandwich.”

 

“You mean, it’s hard to get roast beef at this point?” He laughed.

 

“Yeah. Every choice is important. You can still reverse decisions, but it’s getting harder. We are becoming who we are now.” We looked at one another, and he nodded again, as if to say, We are becoming adults. Who knew?

 

How to become an adult is something I think about regularly these days. Perhaps a Subway menu seems silly compared to the reality of adult life, but we are developing adults, rounding out our twenties. We have chosen a few items for our proverbial sandwich, and we are constructing who we are with each addition: a slice of tomato here, a bit of lettuce there, a pickle, and some olives. We make decisions like saying yes to a job, moving to a new town, getting married, attending church.

 

Author Shauna Niequist writes that at the end of your twenties and thirties, you look around and see your generation divided in half. Half will have built a small, yet solid foundation, and the other half will continue in a college-like haze of the indeterminate variety. This seems a little black and white, because I know life can be fluid and nonlinear. But I also wonder if it is at least partially true.

 

The Makings of an Adult

 

What makes you an adult? Surely you don’t have to get married, or have kids, or hit some sort of cultural milestone to become an adult. Marriage, family, career, and so on—these decisions don’t necessarily make you more “grown up.” Maturity has less to do with the milestones than it does with inner growth; an emotional resilience, a spiritual grounded-ness emerges in our late twenties (and thirties), or alternately, we can continue looking to the past instead of anticipating growth, absolving ourselves of the responsibility to grow up.

 

But we face another reality in our twenties. This is the reality that not making a choice to act is actually a choice in itself. Decisions like not taking a job opportunity or refusing a marriage proposal are very real elections. These decisions lead to moments of self-discovery and illumine something new on our path.

 

We are becoming what we do, all the time. What we think about, who we hang out with, the humor we enjoy—all these things converge into our personalities and adult lives. If day-to-day activities are important to our becoming, then should we not undertake that which has spiritual significance?

 

The Church of Lacrosse

 

In my own life, going to church is the habit that draws me into building a spiritual steadiness. Back in college, when I wasn’t committed to a church, I often felt like a leaf floating in the wind—going every which way—without someone to draw me back in. I needed something to keep me from going wherever my insecurities and passions led.

 

I often wondered why it was necessary to have commitments to anything at all.

 

Chris, who wasn’t yet my husband, played Club Lacrosse in college. He practiced regularly for lacrosse tournaments throughout the week. I hated these practices. Practice meant I wouldn’t get to see him that day. I’d beg him to skip, but he normally refused.

 

“I can’t skip practice,” he told me. “The other guys rely on me to show up and be part of the team.”

 

“But you don’t have to go,” I would say.

 

“I want to be the type of person who is committed to my team, a person who shows up,” Chris told me. “So I do have to go.”

 

Back then, when Chris said this, I rolled my eyes. I thought, what does it matter if he skips a practice? Why does he have to be a part of the team at all? So what if he skips?

 

Practice was important to Chris because it resulted in a strong lacrosse team, a better game mentality, and it trained him to be the man he wanted to be. After practice, Chris would be assured, excited, and ready for the week. The coach was a man who fostered character traits of resilience, teamwork, and physical endurance.

 

The funny thing is, Chris grew in practice. He became a better man. A more thoughtful and careful man, a stronger one both physically and emotionally. I loved seeing how lacrosse instilled these character traits in Chris. Committing to practice was like putting money into a 401k account; though he had to miss out on leisure time, he was building something important. Eventually, it paid off.

 

On one level, church is like lacrosse practice. God refers to church as his family just as Chris’s team members were a kind of family. We exercise our spiritual muscles in church (as opposed to our hamstrings), and we eat and drink with one another, support and encourage one another. We are a part of the team that is the group of Christians meeting together.

 

When my husband and I committed to attending our church, we embraced the habit of showing up. We committed to eating the bread and drinking the wine and to being a part of something bigger than ourselves.

 

It isn’t always easy. Like for lacrosse practice, we’re often expected to show up when it is inconvenient. It constricts us. We can no longer sleep in after a late night bingeing on popcorn and pizza, and we have responsibilities now. But these responsibilities are a part of our growing up. We go to church hoping to become an adult who takes part in church. Perhaps to be a part of the work as in Ephesians 4:16: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

 

When we committed to attending our

 

Part of the Body

 

When you make church a habit as part of your week, you are also choosing a community where encouragement happens. Hebrews 10:24–25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” This is preferable to losing connection with Christ and his church, as in Colossians 2:19: “They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” I think of this like my loss of connection in college; I was the one leaf that had lost my way from the others, and within church I found a place of encouragement and a place to grow up.

 

Jesus talks about the church, saying he feeds and cares for it. What a beautiful picture. When we think about the church as a body or a lacrosse team, we can see how being a part of something like that might help us become the adults we want to be.


 

 

This Part 3 of a three part series: Love Letters to the Church from a Millennial. Access the rest of the series here:

Being Needed | Being Known | Being Committed