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 | By Mary Gates

Rebecca recognizes God's hand in her life

Rebecca recognizes God’s hand in her life

Rebecca Berkemeier is moved as she recounts the ways God has blessed her life. A senior at Jackson Lumen Christi High School, Rebecca credits her parents for laying the foundation she needed to know God and to recognize his hand in her life.

“Growing up, I was very fortunate. I’ve thought about this a lot – how blessed I am to be in a family that is strong in the faith. It was just second nature, we go to Mass. As I grew up, I realized it’s not a part of everyone’s life. I began to appreciate it. My family has been morally sound, and that has impacted my life the most. Being the youngest of five and seeing my siblings make great life decisions has been a blessing. I have about 60 first cousins – all of them have a faith life, so not even just my immediate family – and at all of our gatherings, we thank the Lord. In our family, we don’t only praise Jesus for one hour on Sunday; faith got embedded everywhere.”

Rebecca says it was her family’s influence that allowed her to be open to God’s work of conversion in her as she entered her teen years.

“With that foundation, I personally encountered the Lord first on a confirmation retreat when I was in middle school. So in high school, I was expecting to feel the same on my Kairos retreat. I thought it would be an exact replica of that confirmation retreat. I realized that God doesn’t work exactly the same. It was a gift from Jesus to have a different experience. I also helped lead a Ten Away (sophomore retreat) – I definitely had the Holy Spirit in me. As I prayed over people, I had knowledge of what was going on in their lives. So I had an encounter at that retreat that was not just for me, but also for others – it was so I could help other people. That was incredibly powerful. I could feel the Holy Spirit. I could tell that people were as close to God as they’d ever been, and it wasn’t from the things we plug into our lives for ‘joy,’ it was God. I was so grateful.”

Encountering the love of God in real and profound ways motivated Rebecca to allow him into every area of her life. Despite the challenges of navigating relationships, she knew she could trust God with everything.

“You have to claim your faith. Across the board, I’ve had to claim my faith in every area of my life and in all relationships. I think that there comes a time we have to choose a path of life, and it’s not necessarily the same as everyone else’s, and it helps you grow as a person. True faith makes you stop and think: Is this someone I want to be with? Is this something I want to do?

“I can definitely tell a difference in tone when a relationship is based in Christ. It’s really freeing not to have to hide your faith.”

Looking ahead to the remainder of her senior year and anticipating her plans to attend Grand Valley State University next fall, Rebecca hopes to share what she’s learned through her high school years.

“I want to tell others to figure out their morals, but also to know why they have them. I’d say don’t find your identity or define your worth by people you’re hanging around with. You need to leave high school knowing your own value. Sometimes people find value in outside approval, but Jesus made you as an individual, and I’ve realized it’s important to work on yourself. Don’t neglect the friendship that you have with yourself.

“Also, find out how you connect to God the most. Just because we’re all Christian doesn’t mean we will strengthen our relationship with God the same way. For me, I love eucharistic adoration, but some people need praise or something else. And it’s important to push yourself with what you like because your faith journey is not always about being comfortable. I’ve grown by not always doing what I want. It doesn’t need to be just what your friends do or what you want it to do: Try new things, get involved and make sure that you really find something that works. If faith is important, why wouldn’t you cultivate it? I’m not doing it because I should. I genuinely believe. And that is what I hope for others.”