Gracie’s Story


…between a couple of students to see who could eat a four-pack of Easter peeps and drink half of a Mountain Dew the fastest. I’m really one of the last people to volunteer for races that involve eating things in a rapid fashion, this stands true for today as well as then, but for some reason, I found myself volunteering to participate in this activity. I remember thinking, “Well I like really peeps, and how hard can it be to drink half a can of soda?” I was paired off with an eighth grade boy, which was mildly scary for me, but I just focused on eating my peeps in a way that I wouldn’t choke on them, and I actually beat him, which I think surprised just about everyone in the room, including myself.Looking back at it now, I don’t know what possessed me to volunteer. I had never volunteered for anything at my old youth group that put me in front of other people, but my first time at Journey, I’d pushed myself out of my comfort zone. When my parents asked me after service what I thought of Journey and Riptide, I said that it actually reminded me of my old youth group, that I had a lot of fun, liked it, and would want to come back. And I’ve been here ever since.

Have you ever taken a leap of faith?

I took a leap of faith recently and talked to a friend at school about faith, God, and religion. One of my good friends from school is a self-proclaimed atheist, I suppose. He doesn’t buy into any religion at all anymore. He was raised Catholic, but stopped believing in middle school, and only recently told his parents that he no longer buys into the whole God thing. A week or so ago, while this friend of mine and I were out running (we run distance for the track and field team at my high school), I finally decided I was going to trust God, and ask him why he doesn’t believe anymore. For a long time before that I have been pretty curious about what his story was, but had never had enough guts to ask him out right about it. This friend is actually one of the people I’ve been trying to pray for regularly during this leap of faith, and I realized that while I was praying for this friend to find God again, I had no idea why he had fallen away in the first place. Once I realized this, I knew I really needed to ask that question that frankly kind of scared me.

On this particular day, the question was on the tip of my tongue for some reason (of course it was God), and there were a couple of opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of before I finally asked him about it. And right before I asked him, I asked God for the right words, and to be with me in this conversation. I didn’t approach this conversation like I was trying to criticize him because I wasn’t. Nor was I trying to convert him back to Christianity. I was simply trying to understand him, and why he’s made the decisions and come to the conclusions that he has. And it turns out, my friend was super open about his story, unoffended by my questioning his answers, and we had an awesome conversation that actually reminded me a lot of the types of conversations I have with strangers while at OGN/Engage during the summer.

I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally started a conversation with a school friend about my faith or theirs ever in my life, so I saw this as a huge leap of faith for me, to trust God to guide me in this unfamiliar territory. And honestly, I think it was one of the coolest decisions/leaps of faith I’ve ever made in regards to my friendships with people at my school.