I’ve gone to church ever since I can remember. When I was younger, I knew who Jesus was, but He wasn’t really that important to me. But in middle school, I had questions. I believed in Him, but I wouldn’t really pray a lot or read the Bible. Faith was something I had in my life, but it wasn’t a big deal. And then high school came, and I started TEN12, which has impacted me a lot. My leader, Katey, is probably the person who has influenced my faith the most. I can ask her anything. She gives really good advice, and it’s always related back to God and Jesus. The community is a safe space. In middle school it’s that weird judgmental phase, so I didn’t really feel like I could open up. But in TEN12 I can just be myself.
I remember the first night at TEN12—our whole small group was nervous. It was overwhelming with so many kids. But I met my leader, Katey, and she was so welcoming, and I knew that the year was going to be really good. Erica [Ferris, Associate Director of High School] spoke that night, and what she said really resonated with me. Some of the stuff she’s struggled with, I struggle with, too. It’s cool to have an older faith mentor who has gone through the same things. It has really helped me grow in my faith, and I can take the talks into my week and remember what I heard when I’m having a bad day.
I think I feel God’s presence most through the people He’s put in my life—my leader Katey, my parents who both have really strong faith, my friends. The past couple of months, I’ve had friendship changes—and not always by my choice. I’ve lost friends, but God has brought in new people who make such an impact on my life. They all know Jesus, and that makes a difference. It’s amazing to see what God provides when things get messed up. Sometimes it’s hard in the moment when everything is falling apart, but I can look back and see that He put those people in my life to teach me something or to show me His love and kindness.
One of my friends and I talk a lot about how we want to live like Jesus—even though we know we can’t be perfect—but we want to spread kindness and grace and God’s love. It’s hard to understand where another person is coming from, but I do try to see the other person’s point of view. Being a teenager in high school, every day there is hate. On social media, too, there are always negative things happening, so if someone says they are having a bad day, I’ll just reach out and say, “I’m here if you need anything.” I try to put kindness out there instead of hate and negativity. It’s tempting to hold grudges against people, especially if they don’t treat you well, but I’ve learned through Jesus to love everyone, no matter what. You don’t know what other people are going through.
It’s easy to get anxious and stress about life—you can get caught up in school, work, and everyday things—but I try to bring Jesus into my life every day. I pray for God’s help, asking Him to calm me down, and I feel calm right away. He’s always there. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” It really speaks to me because it shows how big His love is, how He’ll do anything for us. Jesus died on the cross, feeling the weight of all of our sins, and He went through so much pain. God sent His only Son to be human and experience living life like us. It’s just so cool to me.
Hannah is a Junior at Edina High School and serves as a Student Leader.