For those of you who know me, you know my faith journey has been rocky. I struggled with the idea of faith, but when I finally gained my footing five years ago my life changed. I was dedicating more time to church than I ever had before. I became more confident in myself and wasn't the shy girl I had been in middle school. I participated in Sunday School more, got to know the kids in my youth group, and began to participate a lot in youth group.
I spent more time at church my junior and senior years of high school than I did at school I think, due to meetings, Sunday school, church services, open gyms, bible studies, or any other event I had signed up for. I loved, and still do, my youth group and couldn't wait for the next time I was going to see everyone. I counted down the days until our youth trips, specifically Montreat, and would smile from ear to ear whenever they finally rolled around. I couldn't imagine spending those years any other way, and in fact, some of my best friends are from the youth group. So when I chose a college 604 miles away, I was a little worried about what I was going to do regarding finding a church.
I've never confessed this to anyone, but I was worried my faith was going to be altered by such a huge transition. I didn't know anyone before coming to UMD, and I certainly had no idea of what church to attend or what group to get involved with. I knew I needed to find a group of Christian friends at school, but I was worried it was going to be really hard on such a big campus.
I talked with one of my mentors about it, and he told me to find a group on campus and try to get involved as soon as possible, so I did just that. I got involved with the small, I mean three people small, Presbyterian bible study that would meet Sunday nights for Bible study. I loved meeting with that group, and still, do, but I wanted to find a bigger group where I could meet new people and hopefully find that Christian group I had been looking for. When the First Look Fair rolled around, I signed up for about twelve Christian organization hoping one of them would be the right fit. About a week later one of my friends suggested going to Cru with her, so that Thursday we both went, along with her older sister.
By the end of the hour-long group worship, I had tears in my eyes knowing this was the group of people I was supposed to be with. The worship band was amazing, the speaker talked about things I had been stressing about for weeks, and it was a fun atmosphere in general. From there I began going to the Monday night girl's bible studies and loved that group too. One of the upperclassmen drives a group to church every Sunday, so I went one morning and loved the church too. Finally, all of the pieces were coming together, and I had the church group I had wanted.
It took almost a full semester to find my place here on this campus, and although it was kind of scary to have to find my group on my own, I know God was leading me and helping me to find the place I was supposed to be. I always knew coming to UMD was going to be different, but I knew I had support from people at home rooting me on. I will never replace my youth group or church community at home, but by having a second one at school, I feel more blessed than ever. Finding Cru and the bible studies have helped reassure me that UMD is the place I'm supposed to be.
For those of you struggling with this also, just know God has a plan, Jeremiah 29:11, and he is placing you in the right place you're supposed to be. Keep trying different groups until you find your fit because once you find that group, you're going to feel like you're at home.