Recently a colleague shared his experiences of the 2017 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and told us how he was re-energized by the powerful testimonies there. As I listened to him and looked into the event, the theme of the LA Youth Day prior to the congress caught my attention.
Nearly 13,000 teens who attended the Youth Day were asked, “What are you waiting for?” This theme challenged the teens not to delay living out their faith.
Have you ever put off a decision or action that you knew you needed to make? Did you reflect on why you hesitated to take that step?
Perhaps you were experiencing “paralysis by analysis” and over-complicating things by waiting for the “perfect” option. Or you opted to not consider the problem and distracted yourself instead. Or your fears set in and prevented you from taking the leap.
For teens, many of whom will make the transition from high school to college or to the workforce, this “What are you waiting for?” question is a chance to ponder God’s plan for them. How can they become the best version of themselves and glorify God through who they are?
This is a call to bring their hopes, fears, doubts and dreams to God.
“‘What are you waiting for?’ is first and foremost a call to action, a wake-up call. Jesus invited us to turn to him and to not delay. However, it is also our call to reflection,” the youth event website said. “Christ awaits you with open arms. So, what are YOU waiting for?”
The Youth Day’s question tied into the congress’ call to “Embrace trust.”
As Father Christopher Bazyouros, director of the Office of Religious Education for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said in the opening ceremony of the congress, the profound call to action at the Youth Day is a chance to not only trust in God and yourself but also to help others to embrace this trust.
He said that trust involves a commitment to a person, which is not always easy, but “in trust, Christ destroys every separating wall.”
“Many times we want to hedge our bets,” he said, and choose “the tangible, the seen, rather than trust completely in God, whose wisdom and providence see far beyond our vision.”
The antidote to this is trust in God. We can discover joy by taking risks, embracing trust and living lives of action. Faith and trust can help us dispel fears of making mistakes that can paralyze us. And it can help us to embrace trust in the present.
The priest also mentioned a quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila, encouraging congress attendees to “trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”
During the Youth Day, a choir of teenagers sang “Walk on the Water” by Britt Nicole, a Christian singer from North Carolina. The song encapsulates the need to let go of fears and insecurities and take the first step.
One of the parts that struck me was: “You know you’re made for more, so don’t be afraid to move. Your faith is all it takes and you can walk on the water, too.”
So, what are you waiting for?
Maria-Pia Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.