M had his church Confirmation this past Sunday. Each teen had to write a 2-3 page paper about their personal statement of faith, then share it as part of the service. M really agonized over writing his. Partly it was because he didn’t have any good examples to go by, and couldn’t remember what kids have done in past years. And partly it was because he’s at the teenage male “I do not talk about my feelings, I just grunt and mumble” stage of life.
He finally chose two Bible verses and wrote about how they sum up his beliefs. One was a passage from James (faith without works is dead) and one was from the Psalms (God has enormous love and forgiveness.) His final draft was still fairly vague and pedantic, and his personality didn’t show through at all, but it was two pages of grammatically correct English about theology, so oh well.
On Sunday, the other kids read their pieces, and then it was M’s turn. He stepped into the pulpit, smiled out at the congregation, and the first few sentences out of his mouth were completely unfamiliar! I had a brief moment of panic: why isn’t he reading his paper, is he going to adlib the whole thing, and is he going to make a fool of himself?
But no, he gave a very coherent and personal introduction, then picked up his paper and read his first Bible verse. He read a little of his written thoughts on the Bible verse, then looked out at the congregation and embellished on his ideas a little more, adding details that made it more personal and real. He then read his second verse and some more of his writing, then again added more personal details and thoughts, before finally wrapping up with a conclusion based loosely on what he’d written.
I was blown away. Somehow, at the very last moment (listening to the other kids?) he finally “got” what the point of a personal statement of faith was. And then he had the guts to change around his entire spiel on the fly, and he did it beautifully. I know exactly how hard it is to stand up in front of a congregation, and blend a mixture of spontaneous speaking and reading from notes, and it was just amazing to see M pull it off so well. He looked and sounded comfortable, competent, coherent, and mature up in that pulpit.
It was definitely one of those “who is this child and where did he come from?” kind of parenting moments. I never would have guessed he could do this. Wow.