This Ain’t Yo’ Mama’s Faith

By: Justine Johnson

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” –1 Corinthians 13:11

These were cool once, we promise.

Sweaty boys, gossipy girls, cheesy worship songs, and a few frenzied adults questioning their own sanity. Ah, junior high youth group…such marvelous memories. In other words, a time when many guys hadn’t discovered deodorant (or had already rejected it) and most girls whispered behind cupped hands about which smelly boy might be boyfriend material. Songs like “Every Move I Make”, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, and—if your youth pastor picked the ‘cool’ songs—“Tell the World” filled gymnasiums and sanctuaries once a week. Heelies were ‘in’…foosball tournaments got pretty heated. How our poor youth leaders didn’t drop dead during the first week is a mystery to me.

But seriously, junior high youth group wasn’t that bad overall. I made a few friends who I am still close to even now, as a college freshman. I developed relationships with a couple of godly women who mentor me to this day. Despite hearing the pastor’s son read a corny rap about the twelve disciples and being known as the kid with all the answers — definitely NOT a positive thing in 7th grade! — I enjoyed the time spent on Wednesday nights with other kids who were just as scared about puberty as I was.

One of my favorite parts about RIOT (my church’s version of youth group…appropriately named) was the Bible time. Yeah, I was the nerd who actually longed for the old days of memorizing verses in AWANA. Trevor, our youth pastor at that time, was brave enough to dive into the topic of faith one month. I don’t remember much about what we discussed, with the exception of one thing: “This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Faith.” I’ll provide you with the toothbrush to get all the cheese out of your teeth from that phrase if you allow me to elaborate.

Trevor explained that, as teenagers, we were becoming old enough to think critically without our parents’ guidance. With that new concept rolling around in our adolescent minds, he went on to say that we needed to make our faith our own. No more depending on our mom and dad to determine our convictions and thoughts about a walk with Christ; we were capable of deciding if we even bought this Jesus stuff. “This ain’t yo Mama’s faith,” he stated, causing our very white youth group to chuckle a bit, “It’s time to make up your own mind.”

Even after almost six years, that phrase still has importance for me. Especially since I started college, it has been important to remember that I have to make my faith my own. Being surrounded by twenty-odd young women with unique walks and life stories, and attending a Christian school, I am exposed to a slew of different views per day. Just because I am surrounded by God-fearing people does not mean that we will share the same convictions about how to live our lives. Playing dead at the crossroads of faith will only result in the actual demise of trust in valued principles. Rather than plugging my ears and pretending that the differences don’t exist, it is wise to investigate a bit further than the surface.

Often asking questions is not as hard as being open to the answers. A big part of growing up is giving yourself leeway to question and pick apart your convictions in order to better understand why you hold them…and if you need to do a bit of remodeling. Just as a child coming of age must begin the process of developing firm standards for life, we as college students must once again choose whether or not our mama’s faith has been on lend.

As you settle into this second semester, examine your faith and decide if it is tied to your friends’ beliefs, to those of your parents, or to what you have found to be true on your own.

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