Keeping my ‘FOCUS’

As my life has progressed and technology has advanced to the point of being almost completely ubiquitous, it’s become remarkably more challenging to find times when I can step back from it all for a moment of peace.

Life for me, and other teens in the area, has become somewhat of a whirlwind of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and anything else that could possibly fit on our already overflowing plates. And, as lucky as we are to have all of these opportunities to enrich our lives, the stress of balancing it all can be immense and the options we have to catch our breath, so to speak, grow fewer and fewer in number as we grow older.

Despite this, my friends, my family and my relationship with God are three things that I know will always be an escape for me. Oddly enough though, my releases from stress all tend to intersect at my relationship with God. I go to St. Michaels Catholic Church with my parents every Sunday and my best friends and I have grown immeasurably closer through our involvement with local religious youth groups.

My first experience with a youth group was during my sophomore year, when my friends convinced me to join them on a weekend retreat with a group called FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools). My friends had tried for months to get me to join them on the trip and, once I finally agreed to join them, I had almost no idea what I was in for.

Up to that point I had no prior experience with youth groups and had nothing to refer to about them outside of the negative stigmas that others attached to them. I went into the weekend dreading the possibility that I could be in for a long weekend of constant Bible study with little variation or excitement. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The periods of Bible study not only proved to be informative and refreshing looks at parables I had seen and heard time and time before, but were bookended by games and plenty of free time to spend with the friends who had brought me there. I came back home a firm believer in the power of youth group but, for a while, wasn’t able to partake in it as much as I would have liked to.

The friends who had introduced me to FOCUS were Greenwich High School students, and their GHS-based group meetings were after school and hard to make for a Brunswick student like myself with mandatory sports commitments on top of academic requirements. I tried to make it to as many of their FOCUS meetings as I could after my initial experience on the retreat, but eventually I couldn’t spare the time anymore.

The fall and winter of my junior year passed me by without much FOCUS activity until a chance encounter with the director of the local organization resulted in me learning about a newly established group at Brunswick. The group met for breakfast every other Thursday, and not only was it mostly comprised of kids that I already knew from the football team, but the faculty advisor from Brunswick was my former baseball coach and one of my favorite teachers at the school.

Since finding out about the Brunswick program, I have yet to miss a breakfast and have learned that you never know who shares your faith, whatever denomination it may be. FOCUS was a great way for me to grow closer to others while also growing closer to God, and there are plenty of other groups in our area for kids of all ages and creeds to join and do just the same.

Anybody who’s interested should take a while to look around for a group that suits him or her. You’ll be amazed not only at how many of your friends are actually involved themselves but how many options had been just beneath your nose the whole time. Even if it may be tough to muscle another thing onto your plate, I have a feeling that it wouldn’t take long for it to become indispensable.

 

Christopher Lucey is a junior at Brunswick School.

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