Focus on Faith: Childhood lessons still helpful later in life
Written by Carrie Harriman
June 2000

When I was asked to give this testimonial for our high school baccalaureate, I found myself in a state of panic. To me, and probably to most of you, a testimonial was given by a person who experienced a life-altering change in a relationship with God or came to know God in an extraordinary way.
      So, I tried to think of the life-altering event in my life that I could share with my classmates and all of you sitting before me. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I thought about when I became a member of my church. I thought about my years of involvement in my church's youth fellowship. But none of these events seemed like a time when my life was drastically changed.
      Then what was it? What could it have been? I thought about different times in my life when things didn't go well or hadn't turned out the way I thought they should have. Throughout all of my bad times, I continued on, confident that better days were ahead of me. Even after thinking about these times in my life, I still was no closer to the moment in my life that was a changing point.
      Finally, I began to realize that the reason I could move forward in my life during difficult times was because I was introduced to God at an early age. My earliest years of Sunday School and fidgeting during church services were the times when the first seeds of faith were being planted in me. Continuing throughout my life, these seeds were nurtured by the people who surrounded me and helped make a difference in my life.
      Today, I know that the lessons I learned as a child have helped me see that there is always someone to talk to when I feel alone or confused. It is the knowledge that God cares about me and every person on this earth that makes me feel better when I feel like I don't measure up to other people's standards. God loves me and everyone else no matter what we do. And we can always come to God with our feelings and our problems.
      It took me a while, but I finally decided that my life-altering change happened a long time ago, and I hadn't even realized it. Because of God's love, and the love and support of my family and friends, I know that I can face the future with confidence and faith that God will be with me and help things work out in my life in the best way possible. All of you can be confident in these facts as well, and know that God will always be with you and bless you.

Carrie Harriman, a member of Friedens UCC in Marissa, Ill., gave this baccalaureate speech last year. She has just finished her first year at McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith.

Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith. The Rev. Lawrence A. Q. Burnley is Executive for Racial and Ethnic Constituency Education and Development for the United Church Board for World Ministries. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column of stories and ideas to help readers grow in their faith.