I go to church, but it’s not my life. I’m not one of the kids who’ll knock on your door to talk about Jesus or ask you for soup; I can’t spontaneously recite a line of scripture, and I don’t have a framed picture of Jesus next to my bed. I do wear a simple cross around my neck, though. So when I was offered the chance to travel to Miami, Florida with my youth group, I hesitated though because most people identify church-based mission trips with obsessed Christians, but that’s not me. I’m the teenage girl that sings all the songs and leads small groups for my peers, but there are times when I doubt God because I’m confused. At church, I’ve asked myself “Why are we here?” I have two faces. The only way I feel I can get close to this God is through other people. I know “He” exists, and yeah, I talk to him sometimes, but what does it mean?
After arriving in Miami, the youth group from my church began our work at Touching Miami with Love, a Christian ministry. Between all the painting, reorganizing, and picking up of trash and drug needles on the back lot, I still had yet to feel this transformation or sudden closeness with God all my friends seemed to have experienced already. My next planned activity, helping with the after school program that provides a safe place for kids to go, brought some hope of finally experiencing this “transformation”. Helping my 5 year old buddy, Adriana, do her math homework as she sat in my lap looking up to me like a sister, I thought about our differences; education, close family ties, and the endless opportunities I possess. She wouldn’t talk much about her family when I asked, but most of it I could figure out on my own. I live in St. Louis in a medium sized house in the county, Adriana lives in a run down apartment building down the street from drug dealers and criminals being arrested, I have two supportive parents and am very close to my family, Adriana didn’t know a lot about her siblings except that she had a lot and she didn’t talk about her parents. I decided that asking her about her family wasn’t one of my better talking points, so I settled on her beliefs regarding God, once she stopped writing. Part of me thought that she could help me figure this whole God thing out, and the other part was screaming “yeah right, she’s five years old, and you’ve known her for thirty minutes”.
“Adriana, do you love God?”
“Yes, I do” and that was all I got.
“Do you think that he love you?”
“And you know that God called us all to come here to help you right?”
She looked up at me with her innocent brown eyes that have seen more violence than I will probably ever know, and said “But I’m here to help you.” Thinking she wasn’t sure what I was saying, I tried again.
“But we traveled here because we felt that God wanted us to come, that he had a reason, something for us to bring to you.”
“I know, but I’m here to help you.”
I still think about the way she said it with complete intention; she knew what she had said, there was no mistake. My body was frozen as a feeling rushed over me that was truly indescribable, one that I now only feel when I’m in my “Jesus zone”. My brain couldn’t form any more questions for me to ask, she’d said it all.
I went through the schedule of helping Adriana with her homework, letting her carry my pink digital camera to take pictures of the other children, and watching the girl that changed my life walk out the rusted back door of TML holding her father’s hand with her tattered pink backpack weighing down on her like God was on me.
As I leaned back in my blue cloth Southwest airlines seat, I wasn’t thinking about God at all, and this wasn’t unusual. My mind aimlessly wandered to things that would be considered ungodly. I was suddenly snapped back to reality by the sound of the captain announcing that the flight landed and my legs motioning me down the aisle and out to the luggage claim. Who was I? Why did I feel so different? Was it that I found my Jesus zone or was it that I found I could escape it?
At service that next Sunday we sang:
“So here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God, you’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes, let me see. The beauty that made this heart adore you with hope of a life spent with you.” I remembered Adriana and just imagining where she was, what she was doing.
The following Monday I was back in my teenage world, wearing my other face. While I wish I had an answer for what will happen, if I will ever figure this out, I know that only time will tell. For now, I realize that I still don’t know who I am, I don’t know how to feel about God, I don’t know if I live a godly life, or if I ever will and it’s okay. But perhaps it’s the hope that I could have that, or knowing that it’s possible I won’t, that keeps me searching for my “Jesus zone” every week.