In this old post from almost a year ago, I mentioned the wonderful relationship that B and I have with our church. We’ve since been married in that church, and have continued to attend regularly. We truly enjoy all of our involvements with the congregation, from youth-advising to handbell choirs, adult education classes to book club. However, we’ve continued to face one struggle: truly being adults in the environment where I was raised as a child.
You know how people tend to fall into their familiar roles when they’re around their family? I’m talking about the adult brother who still pulls his sisters’ hair, and the middle-aged woman who can’t help but roll her eyes and her dad’s jokes, or the grown-up children who still talk back to their mother. Well, I think it’s like that at my church.
At church, I’m surrounded by people who raised me. First of all, there are my parents. We sit with them every week, I ring handbells in the same chior as my parents, and my mom and I co-host book club meetings. Then, there are my friends’ parents. You know, the ones who hosted me for slumber parties, took me to the pool, and watched me struggled through my “awkward” years alongside their adolescent children. Sitting in the congregation are also my old Sunday school teachers, choir directors, and youth advisors. The adults who laid down the law in my teenage years, and knew me when I still brought my American Girl doll to church with me every week. Now, I’m asking them not to see me as little Katie anymore, but as grown up, married Katie.
And I feel frustrated when they don’t.
But, I’m making the conscious decision to let go of that frustration. This week at church, we had our annual potluck with our Covenant Groups, which are small groups of 15-20 people to which each member is assigned. This was the first year I was not a part of my parents’ Covenant Group. B and I went to a different room, brought a salad to contribute, and introduced ourselves as a married couple. A separate, grown-up entity. Of course, we weren’t fooling anyone. Most of the people in the room had known me for 10+ years. However, we were accepted in our new life and as our own familial unit. It felt good.
We’ve also signed up for some volunteer and fellowship opportunities in the near future. Having been a member of the church for such a long time, there are few things I haven’t participated in over the years. But these are a couple new activities that we’ll get to experience for the first time together.
I know that I’m not the first person to make this transition from youth to adult in the church. I’ve talked with many other members who’ve had similar experiences. Our church is something special, and I think it speaks a lot for our congregation that its members are willing to make the effort.