Why am I at church today? I didn't have a choice. The fact of the matter is, my parents make me come. Why am I sitting here acting disinterested? Because I am tired of being told when, where and how often I will attend worship. Will I ever decide to be okay with God issues again? I will make that decision on my own if you will just leave me alone. If you make me go to your place of worship, will I continue to do it without an argument? That I cannot promise. I just think I am old enough to decide about the spiritual parts of my life. I want to tell you to back off. Just leave me alone. I want the choice to sleep in on the days we go to worship. I want to choose for myself what I will and will not believe. I don't want to believe what you believe or what our church tells me to believe just because that's what we've always done. If what you believe is so right, then why are you so afraid that what I may find "out there" might taint me? Do you have confidence in your spirituality or not? It's not like I don't know the difference between spiritual awareness and cult involvement. I am definitely not looking for a cult. I just want to decide what I believe about God and discover my own journey ... my own path to spirituality. I look around at some of my friends that you compliment because they are "so involved in their church." Maybe you should see some of those same kids during the week. I heard a song that reminds me of those kids ... "Sunday's child don't be a Sunday's child, on Sunday he is quite a saint ... on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday a saint he ain't." So, do you want me to go to church to "grow" or to "show" my faith? The friends I know use the church for their social group. I am not saying that is all bad or all good. Some of the same kids that go to church are the same kids that get in trouble with the law and at school. Just because kids go to church doesn't mean they don't try drugs or even have sex. Going to church doesn't make a kid the "perfect" one. There are even some teenagers who use their religious holidays just to get out of school. Those cool winter ski trips are fun too, but are they really at a "spiritual retreat?" Maybe they say prayers and do a devotional. I guess that counts as spiritual. What is spirituality anyway? Am I involved in church because I think I should be or because I have found a personal benefit in believing in someone greater than me? Do I even know the difference between religion and spirituality? Is there a difference? I want to experience my own spiritual journey. Please don't feel the need to dictate it to me. You have raised me to have a faith. I will not lose that. I want to explore my spiritual options. Why are you so afraid? I will tell you what I need from you. I need you to practice your faith and walk your spiritual journey in our home. I will not ask you not to pray for me or not to say grace at dinner. I will not make fun of your faith. I will honor your request to worship with you at times. I will never forget what you have taught me, I will just be looking for what fits me. I will not go to a church just to hang out. I want to learn all I can about spiritual things and then make my decision about where I stand. You will let me decide my political party won't you? So trust me on this one, too.
IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole, FL. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza).