Hoping there’s a place in the church for a kid like mine

This was a big week in the Grcevich household. Our youngest daughter (Mira) graduated from high school this past Thursday night. I’d like to tell you a little bit about her and let you know why she would be an incredible asset to your church someday.

I’ve developed an extraordinary respect for Mira through watching her navigate the challenges of middle school and high school…not so much for what she’s accomplished (she can look back upon lots of accomplishments) or the challenges she’s overcome (multiple), but for the kindness and sensitivity she demonstrates to the people she comes in contact with on a daily basis. A peer from her high school dance team shared this about Mira in a speech at their National Honor Society farewell ceremony:

It was her inner beauty that left a lasting impression on me. Mira has a true compassion for others regardless of who they are or who their friends are or how smart they are or how powerful they are or what size, shape or culture they may be. She sincerely wants the best for each and every person, a quality I have not found in many people.

I came to know Mira as we would don our white leather boots and dance on the football field on Friday night. She would always put a smile on my face with a cute, kind phrase she’d have for me. She would call me a little peach, a ball of sunshine and a glowing rainbow, to name a few. There were always kind words and praises from her, so much positive energy and words.

I all too often found ways to avoid situations and challenges that made me uncomfortable in high school. Mira bravely faced up to – and overcame her challenges. She acquired the self-discipline necessary to endure ten hour long practice sessions as a member of our school’s championship-winning dance team – an activity that didn’t allow her to rely upon natural ability. The self-discipline learned in dance came in handy for managing the academic workload she embraced in school. Mira endured quite a few sleepless nights completing the work required of her to finish among the top 15 students in her graduating class. She did so while pursuing and holding down a job and serving as a volunteer Sunday school teacher to preschoolers throughout much of her time in high school.

Mira will be heading out in August to attend Belmont University in Nashville, where she plans to major in psychology. If that’s the career she ultimately selects, she’ll be really good. She’s very empathic. She’s got a gift for recognizing when people around her are in need of encouragement. She’s a champion for the downtrodden or marginalized. She’s wickedly smart. She quietly makes astute observations about the patterns of behavior and motivations of people encountered by our family.

I was pleased by her college choice. She was offered admission to – and very significant scholarships from – a number of elite schools. Given the nature of her chosen profession, she’s likely to find herself surrounded by mentors and peers quite hostile to the traditional brand of Christianity she was raised with in our home. My wife and I are hopeful that she’ll be encouraged and supported in the development of her personal faith throughout her undergraduate years at Belmont and be better prepared for the time when she’ll be surrounded by people who don’t believe as we do.

Mira will likely be very uncomfortable with my decision to post this brief tribute to her online. She doesn’t like being a focus of attention. She’s a bit of an introvert. She values her alone time. She’s more comfortable hanging out with one or two good friends on the weekend than going to a large party.

I worry that we don’t make it easy for young adults like Mira to assimilate into Christian community when they leave home to attend college or leave college to settle into a career. The ministry environments in our churches tend to be designed by leaders who are very comfortable sharing their faith – and other deeply personal information with people at earlier stages in a relationship than feels right for many. I wonder if we lose a lot of our youth when we focus exclusively on activities and programs that occur in medium to large-sized groups and offer little to kids who are more comfortable in gatherings of two or three? Because of the distance we live from our church, Mira missed out on the opportunity for the relationships with adults from the congregation that are often critical in preventing kids who regularly attended church from becoming statistics.

My hope for her when she goes away to college is that she’ll experience what Jonathan Holmes refers to as “biblical friendships.” Would you please join with me in praying that Mira will find mature adults and fellow students in her new city who will encourage and support her as God continues to form her into the young woman he intends for her to be?

It continues to be an honor and a privilege to be Mira’s dad. I’m trusting that the people she’ll meet in Nashville will come to care for her and appreciate her as much as we do!

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shutterstock_291556127Key Ministry encourages our readers to check out the resources we’ve developed to help pastors, church leaders, volunteers and families on mental health-related topics, including series on the impact of ADHD, anxiety and Asperger’s Disorder on spiritual development in kids, depression in children and teens, pediatric bipolar disorder, and strategies for promoting mental health inclusion at church.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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4 Responses to Hoping there’s a place in the church for a kid like mine

  1. Don’t sweat it I gave my 18 year old to send off a couple years ago and he talked to me again in just like 7 months later

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful tribute to your Mira. We are now living back in Canada but used to live south of Nashville and attended Grace Community Church on Granny White Pike only a 15 min drive from Belmont University. They’re worth a visit and I hope she is able to find those biblical friendships in her post secondary school years. Blessings to your sweet one as she moves into a new stage in life.

    Like

  3. Jamie Carter says:

    It really depends on what kind of churches are in the area – most have pretty much no college age ministry (not enough kids stick around after high school to bother with creating one, it seems.) So she’ll probably find herself being the odd one out, folded into the couples’ ministry as the resident single young woman (there are a plethora of these out there.) Where she’ll be steadily taught that she will only fully realize herself as Christian and as a woman by marrying as quickly as possible and having lots of children to keep her busy (they won’t be keen on the idea that she has a dream of her own to fulfill and that she might like working.)
    But if she finds an egalitarian denomination, she might have an easier time of it. Ultimately, age segregation is the downfall of the church, I remember being isolated because elders didn’t have anything in common with youth and we didn’t have any way to establish friendships / mentor-ships. One guy tried once, but nobody signed up for the idea, the elders believed that they had raised their own kids and done their duty and weren’t interested in raising other people’s kids, and the youth had all wisely learned to be suspicious of elders who always do things their own way and never listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. morethanlegs says:

    I have cerebral palsy. In ’72, when I started college the Lord graciously provided friends in the church I started attending. I’ll pray He does the same for Mira. It Takes More Than Legs To Stand is a memoir on Amazon. She might enjoy it.

    Like

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