Hoping there's a place in the church for a kid like mine

This was a big week in the Grcevich household. Our youngest daughter (Mira) graduated from high school this past Thursday night. I’d like to tell you a little bit about her and let you know why she would be an incredible asset to your church someday.

I’ve developed an extraordinary respect for Mira through watching her navigate the challenges of middle school and high school…not so much for what she’s accomplished (she can look back upon lots of accomplishments) or the challenges she’s overcome (multiple), but for the kindness and sensitivity she demonstrates to the people she comes in contact with on a daily basis. A peer from her high school dance team shared this about Mira in a speech at their National Honor Society farewell ceremony:

It was her inner beauty that left a lasting impression on me. Mira has a true compassion for others regardless of who they are or who their friends are or how smart they are or how powerful they are or what size, shape or culture they may be. She sincerely wants the best for each and every person, a quality I have not found in many people.

I came to know Mira as we would don our white leather boots and dance on the football field on Friday night. She would always put a smile on my face with a cute, kind phrase she’d have for me. She would call me a little peach, a ball of sunshine and a glowing rainbow, to name a few. There were always kind words and praises from her, so much positive energy and words.

I all too often found ways to avoid situations and challenges that made me uncomfortable in high school. Mira bravely faced up to – and overcame her challenges. She acquired the self-discipline necessary to endure ten hour long practice sessions as a member of our school’s championship-winning dance team – an activity that didn’t allow her to rely upon natural ability. The self-discipline learned in dance came in handy for managing the academic workload she embraced in school. Mira endured quite a few sleepless nights completing the work required of her to finish among the top 15 students in her graduating class. She did so while pursuing and holding down a job and serving as a volunteer Sunday school teacher to preschoolers throughout much of her time in high school.

Mira will be heading out in August to attend Belmont University in Nashville, where she plans to major in psychology. If that’s the career she ultimately selects, she’ll be really good. She’s very empathic. She’s got a gift for recognizing when people around her are in need of encouragement. She’s a champion for the downtrodden or marginalized. She’s wickedly smart. She quietly makes astute observations about the patterns of behavior and motivations of people encountered by our family.

I was pleased by her college choice. She was offered admission to – and very significant scholarships from – a number of elite schools. Given the nature of her chosen profession, she’s likely to find herself surrounded by mentors and peers quite hostile to the traditional brand of Christianity she was raised with in our home. My wife and I are hopeful that she’ll be encouraged and supported in the development of her personal faith throughout her undergraduate years at Belmont and be better prepared for the time when she’ll be surrounded by people who don’t believe as we do.

Mira will likely be very uncomfortable with my decision to post this brief tribute to her online. She doesn’t like being a focus of attention. She’s a bit of an introvert. She values her alone time. She’s more comfortable hanging out with one or two good friends on the weekend than going to a large party.

I worry that we don’t make it easy for young adults like Mira to assimilate into Christian community when they leave home to attend college or leave college to settle into a career. The ministry environments in our churches tend to be designed by leaders who are very comfortable sharing their faith – and other deeply personal information with people at earlier stages in a relationship than feels right for many. I wonder if we lose a lot of our youth when we focus exclusively on activities and programs that occur in medium to large-sized groups and offer little to kids who are more comfortable in gatherings of two or three? Because of the distance we live from our church, Mira missed out on the opportunity for the relationships with adults from the congregation that are often critical in preventing kids who regularly attended church from becoming statistics.

My hope for her when she goes away to college is that she’ll experience what Jonathan Holmes refers to as “biblical friendships.” Would you please join with me in praying that Mira will find mature adults and fellow students in her new city who will encourage and support her as God continues to form her into the young woman he intends for her to be?

It continues to be an honor and a privilege to be Mira’s dad. I’m trusting that the people she’ll meet in Nashville will come to care for her and appreciate her as much as we do!


Key Ministry encourages our readers to check out the resources we’ve developed to help pastors, church leaders, volunteers and families on mental health-related topics, including series on the impact of ADHDanxiety and Asperger’s Disorder on spiritual development in kids, depression in children and teenspediatric bipolar disorder, and strategies for promoting mental health inclusion at church.