Sophia Rees, ‘23
Religion is at the forefront of my life; I strive to live each day as a faithful Christian with great emphasis on acting with love and patience. Obviously, it is nearly impossible to go through everyday without a single mistake, but I try to remember to do everything with good intention.
I haven’t always been this religious, though. At the beginning of 6th grade, my mom encouraged me to join her at a church youth group picnic. I had absolutely no interest in going; we spent at least an hour bickering about the event. Finally, I succumbed and went to the picnic. Little did I know that giving into my mom’s advice and going to that picnic would change my life forever. I was immediately greeted by kids my age and parents eager to know me. I felt overwhelmed by everyone’s radiance and confused by how people could be so welcoming. Looking back, I know that God intended for me to perceive those around me with such reverence, and I see how it worked as part of His plan for my life.
I decided to attend the following week for the first official meeting with just the kids. We had to bring Bibles. I felt clueless as I looked down on mine with no idea about what I had just gotten myself into. However, all the Biblical stories that we read were told with clarity and our leader worked hard to ensure that we had acquired something meaningful out of each lesson.
I spent the rest of the year attending the youth group and learned more about Jesus and myself. Especially in a period when my life was changing, it was nice to have a steady group that I could return to weekly that would encourage me for the week ahead through Scripture.
The following year, I was excited to start another season with the youth group. Soon after, however, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was immediately filled with sadness and frustration. How could something so terrible happen to someone so amazing? I continuously reflected on the past and even questioned what I did wrong to let this happen. I called on God frequently, but mostly out of anger. Because my mom couldn’t physically be with me through this tough time, she encouraged me to keep going to the youth group to give me the strength that I would need to not only support myself, but her as well.
My experience as my mom battled breast cancer serves as one of the biggest trials of my faith to this day. I talked to God a lot as I struggled with even the idea of losing my best friend. As difficult as it was, I had to trust that God was using her cancer to do something good in both her life and my family’s.
After what felt like an eternity, my mom’s cancer was eradicated. She was in the clear. It was the best news I could have ever asked for, and I knew that it was all God’s doing. However, that didn’t stop my confusion on the cancer itself. I continued to reflect on the experience for months after.
The way I understand it now is that God used my mom’s cancer to snap my family back into reality. All of us had been living in a mad rush with little care for ourselves and we failed to appreciate most parts of life… as embarrassing as that is to say. Though I still struggle when I think about the pain my mom endured, I know that God used it to teach my family to slow down and live life with more gratitude for His doings.
My mom’s experience with cancer serves as one of a few experiences in my life that have shaped my practicing of faith today. Some are of a similar degree of severity, while others have stemmed from a variety of experiences, such as hour-long Bible Studies or short books. In any case, my faith in God has taught me that everything will be okay. The Bible has also taught me how to live a virtuous life by appreciating and loving my neighbor, despite difficulties, and to understand that everyone and everything in my life has a purpose that is beautiful to God. Though I know I still have many trials ahead that will both challenge and strengthen me, I am forever comforted by God’s everlasting love that never fails as He walks me through the crazy journey that is life.