Transitioning into Spiritual Independence
If you’re reading this as a college student, there’s a good chance that these are the first years you’re ever spending away from your parents. I’m still a freshman for the next few weeks, so I’m relatively new to this phase of life. It’s beautiful to be in a Seventh-day Adventist institution where so many people grew up the same way as me, but I’m starting to ask the age-old question: “Do I believe this way only because of my upbringing?”
If you grew up in an Adventist household, you have probably been told to always be prepared. Jesus could return at any time, and you must be on good terms with Him. That can be scary sometimes. I’d say my prayers before bed just to make sure I was going to be OK if Jesus returned while I was sleeping. I actually remember asking God to please not return while I was wearing my Tinker Bell pajamas so all the kids at school wouldn’t see me in them.
But what about our seasons of transition? Our parents’ faith is supposed to become our own at this point in our lives, but we aren’t given a margin of error for the time it takes to transition
It’s easy to forget that many of the pivotal moments in Christian and religious history occurred during periods of transition. While Martin Luther was a monk, he wrestled with God. Jacob physically wrestled an angel until daybreak.
When you’re raised one way, with a strict set of beliefs, it’s natural to be curious about other worldviews before committing. The Amish have a dedicated transitional period just for this, called Rumspringa. Translated from Pennsylvania Dutch, the word means “running around.” Amish teenagers get to see what else is out there before coming home and permanently committing to being a full-fledged member of the Amish community.  There’s no guilt or shame in seeing what else is out there for them.
There seems to be a fear that if we set one foot out the door of the church, we’re sure to leave. The idea of Rumspringa offers an opportunity to open the door and take a look around before choosing to shut it permanently. After all, the Amish have around a 90% retention rate for the youth in their community. 
Our curiosity isn’t only natural, it’s beautiful. It’s an indication of the free will that God instilled in us. Without our curiosity, the story of salvation wouldn’t work at all. We’d be all biological function with no capacity to love or understand God. So, if a transitional period is what you need before choosing God, then take it.
It’s scary to think that the solution might not be exactly what our parents told us it was, but the important thing isn’t the name of the church you attend, it’s that you’re following your convictions to their logical ends. Curiosity may kill the cat, but satisfaction brings it back.
“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out,” Proverbs 25:2.
References (2006, June 7). Rumspringa: Amish teens venture into modern vices. NPR, https://n.pr/3uiMhqn.  Ibid.