This past Sunday, millions around the world celebrated Easter, also known as the resurrection of Christ. Christians used that day to reflect on their faith and Jesus, who was raised from the dead after being cursed. Being a symbol of light defeating death, many use Easter Sunday to rejoice in new beginnings.
As someone who grew up under the Christian faith in a Lutheran Church, Easter Sunday is a special holiday for me and my family. However, growing up, I wasn’t always religious. My family went camping every weekend during the summer in Waseca at a place called Kesler’s Camp Ground, so we were never home Sunday morning in time for church.
When I was 13 years old, I started getting back into church classes. Before then, I never went to church regularly. The last time was probably when I was baptized. During sixth grade, my parents enrolled me in confirmation classes so that down the road if I happen to marry someone who was Catholic and wanted to be married in a traditional church, I’d be confirmed by the church and be deemed good to go.
Little did I know at that time I’d meet so many important people in my youth and start a faith journey that is everlasting. Fast forward to many Wednesday youth groups later, I was confirmed at 15 years old and had the option to either start high school youth group or never have to come to classes ever again.
As a 15-year-old entering high school with roughly 500 students per class, I didn’t have many friends at the beginning of the year. New friend groups were forming and I felt lost many times. Church was the one place where I always felt seen and included. Church became my sense of community and fellowship. I ended up continuing youth group every Wednesday and became a youth mentor for the younger kids and volunteered my summers during vacation bible camps. I also attended the summer high school mission trips that took me to places I’d never been before like Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee. During these trips, I learned so much about myself and others.
Then things took a turn. Entering my senior year of high school, one of my favorite pastors and the youth leader announced they were leaving our congregation and accepted a job elsewhere. This absolutely broke my heart. I looked up to my youth pastor, he was not only a mentor to me, but also someone who turned our whole church youth program around. From what were roughly 80 kids per night grew to hundreds over the short five years he spent serving our church.
To put it into perspective, during his first year less than 10 high schoolers were on the mission trip to Chicago. After he was there for a year, over 30 joined to travel to Denver, Colorado. He was such a light in our community and it was absolutely heartbreaking that he was leaving during a time when I and many others needed him. During my senior year of high school, I was lost. I didn’t know where I was going to college, all my friends were decided except for me and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life or what to major in. I needed guidance.
Then the pandemic came. All in-person service stopped and I felt further from God than ever. Feeling cheated by the closure of an important chapter in my life, I just moved on. I ended up choosing Mankato State out of financial reasons and I never felt interested in joining a church group here.
Until Easter Sunday. I went back to my hometown church and after Covid, it never felt the same as it did during my youth. I sat in the pew with my family and listened to my childhood pastor preach. He was the only one left out of the three original pastors I remember listening to and a rush of nostalgia rushed back to me. His message about new beginnings during the resurrection of Christ and what this season symbolizes resonated hard with me.
If you’ve been reading my columns, you would know how anxious and scared I am to enter this new chapter in my life post-graduation. But after listening to him speak, all of a sudden I felt so at peace with everything. All the worries that have been plaguing my mind for the past few weeks were washed away instantaneously. On the ride back home, I blasted my worship playlist I made years ago and I was met with an overwhelming sense of emotion. I knew at that moment everything was going to be okay.
I don’t normally speak about my faith, but this testament was too uplifting to keep to myself. He has risen, he has risen indeed.
Write to Julia Lin at firstname.lastname@example.org