We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSophia Graves
To start off my story, I was in middle school and lived with my parents in their separate houses in North Carolina. My mother had recently moved out of a not-so-savory neighborhood and into a better neighborhood near one of her friends. At that time, I was mainly focused on my schoolwork and just trying to enjoy life and be a kid. I wasn’t really focused on much of anything else such as religion. This is partially because I, nor most of my family, ever really practiced any religion. We called ourselves Christian and my brother and I weren’t allowed to say “oh my god;” it would always be corrected to “oh my gosh” as to not use the Lord's name in vain. We sometimes went to church when we were little, but that didn’t go on for too long. 
The event that sets my story off is around 6th or 7th grade. One of my classes required me to do a project where we interviewed other people with different religions. My mom gave me the numbers to two of her friends that she knew were not Christian. I interviewed these women over the phone and recorded our conversations. One of the women that I interviewed was an Atheist, and the other was Islamic. It was really interesting hearing how they viewed the world and what they believed in along with hearing how they would be treated for practicing, or in the first woman's case, not practicing, these religions. Since I was so young, much like other young children, my mind and opinions were easily influenced by other people in positions of power, which at that age meant adults. At that point in time, life was a little rough with my parents going through divorce 2 or 3 years after separating and my mom moving into a new neighborhood. With my parent’s situation, I wasn’t all that sure God was up there. Plus my faith wasn’t all that strong since, like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t go to church or have a Bible to read. 
Well, back to the interview and being easily influenced. I started to believe like the woman who was an Atheist. My mom didn’t really care much about my questioning because she would support whatever I chose to believe in. Then at the beginning of 2020, I moved out of my mom’s house to VA with my dad. This move wasn’t really expected or planned; it just kind of happened. Due to this move, I began to have a better relationship with my grandmother who was raised Catholic. I talked to her almost everyday and at the end of each phone call she would tell me to pray like always, but this year I started to take that seriously. I started to pray everyday for myself and others that I knew were going through rough times. With all that we went through in 2020, we really needed something to help us out so I chose God. I needed to have something because moving to Virginia during a pandemic was a bit difficult. It was hard to make friends. When I took my grandmother's advice and started praying more, I started to notice a change. I started to notice that things were getting better for my family's situation the more I prayed and the more I began to know what I wanted. When things started looking up, I became more optimistic and my faith grew and is stronger than ever. 

© Sophia Graves. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.