Savannah Kenny graduated from UW Madison this past spring and is now a young professional working in Middleton. She shared her story at Sunday Worship on October 15th, 2017 during a sermon series, “Questions on Our Mind: What if I fail?”
My most recent faith journey began during a conversation with my parents after my freshman year of college. Somehow in that conversation they told me they both believed in God. I don’t know why I was so surprised.
We had grown up in Catholic church, gone to church camps, but because I wasn’t sure what to make of God I interpreted their silence on outright statements of faith as them not being sure as well. Growing up I took bible stories as stories. Lessons to make you a good person. But that conversation with my parents started me thinking about what it meant to actually believe in God and why that part was important.
Sophomore year of college school really amped up. Aside from the insecurity that came with being a female in engineering I also had ADD, and it was a fairly recent diagnosis. So basically I hadn’t fully dealt with the label yet.
Being the only girl around, and needing special accommodations on tests seeded a deep sense of unworthiness of my position in my classes. Everyone’s sense of surprise at me being in engineering, or their belief that I had gotten in because I was a girl started to get to me. “Maybe I didn’t belong in engineering” “Maybe I was high school level smart but not college level”. Any time I failed or struggled with something I thought to myself “you’re just not smart enough for this”. Because a lot of my self confidence with linked with being “smart” I was feeling very insecure.
On top of this my parents had been fairly overbearing growing up. So with the newfound freedom of college I was doing a load of things that were just not an option to me at home, things they would not have approved of. While I am not ashamed of everything I recognize that many of the things were not things that a centered person with confidence does. What moreso affected me was that my moral code was in the air.
I was trying to get into Biomedical Engineering at the time and the struggle of not getting in and reapplying was really validating my lack of confidence. Comfort and guidance from Christians during this time made me start to dispel the reasons I had not taken God seriously. I started reading the bible in an effort to get an unbiased opinion and started to analyze the lives of believers around me. I started to see the push back against believing in popular media, in friends conversation, and had the very real realization that I could have been enculturated into not believing. And this was powerful for me.
During this time, especially early in my sophomore year, I started seeking places where God was without really realizing it. I came to Pres house a few times and thought about joining the music team. I put my name on the email list but didn’t commit. Once my junior year came around. I was more open to the idea. I had just broken up with my boyfriend whom I had blamed a lot of my self confidence issues on and it was time to deal with myself and my decisions on my own. Face my questions and concerns.
During this time I talked to Erica over coffee about some of the things I could not get on board with in my parent’s church. Having that conversation and getting to know her and Mark presented a side to Christianity that I needed to see. A side that led to possibility for me.
Dispelling my confidence and trust in myself and my own logic was a painful yet amazing life step. I ended up not getting into biomedical but life went on. I found computer classes which I really loved and was good at and ended up graduating in Electrical Engineering. Once I was more believing than not, which I can pin point to right around the Pres house fall retreat my junior year, I felt extreme peace. That literally whatever God threw at me I would be ok. It was very freeing. A peek into ever-lasting and abundant joy and love.
My more recent struggles center around being ashamed, a feeling I definitely realized while trying to write this. I am still embarrassed by believing. What if I am wrong? What if I am a fool like some people say? But the story of Jesus and the backlash he received is comforting to me in this.
I still hear the small atheist/agnostic in my head from time to time. But for now I am building a list of my uncertainties and trying to delve into them with the faith that God will show me the way.