Photo courtesy of Madison Menefee
People need church like they need water.
That is how Pepperdine senior Biology major Madison Menefee was raised to view her faith.
“Church is my favorite place in the world,” Menefee said.
Madison has been attending a nondenominational church in Orange County with her close-knit family since she was a newborn. While she felt lucky to have a firm foundation in the church, it was important to her that she was choosing this path for herself, Menefee said.
“I always loved God and my church community,” Menefee said. “But there comes a point where you have to separate yourself from your parents and ask yourself, ‘What do I believe?’”
For Menefee, this process began in high school and followed her to college, when she said she experienced crippling anxiety.
Like many students, Menefee found herself in the vulnerable position of attempting to find a new home in an unfamiliar place as a first-year student in college.
“You’re alone your first year,” Menefee said. “I had no parents, no friends really. I really only had God.”
Throughout this year, Menefee said her relationship with God grew more than she could have imagined. At first, she was solely seeking Him to help her get through the day due to her severe anxiety, but as her anxiety faded, her relationship with God remained strong.
“That time taught me what it really means to rely on the Lord every day for everything,” Menefee said.
Since the hard times she faced in her early college career, Menefee said her reliance on God has not gone away.
“There are definitely times when I feel God is distant, but that is usually when I haven’t made time to read the Word, and I am rushing,” Menefee said.
When Menefee feels isolated from God, she said she reminds herself that He is always consistent even when she is inconsistent.
Menefee credits her parents for her openness and security in her faith today.
“They didn’t hide anything from me,” Menefee said. “It taught me to be vulnerable in myself and tell any struggle.”
Even during a period of doubt, she has found strength in God.
“I felt really comfortable talking about that with my mom,” Menefee said. “She has known me and saw my relationship with the Lord, so she could remind me of all the times that He has worked in my life.”
Menefee shares this openness in her faith with her fiancé, Max Mchugh.
“We went on a date, and it was the best date I have ever been on,” Menefee said. “And the rest is history.”
Menefee said she was looking for someone who was running after God and found that person in Mchugh.
“I have never met anyone so sold out to Jesus,” Menefee said. “I get to see the ins and outs of his life and how intentionally and with integrity he lives for his faith.”
Menefee said she admires Mchugh for his faith more than anyone, and he inspires her daily, always wanting to know more and encouraging her to share what is on her mind.
“He just really gives me the space and time to share my thoughts about God,” Menefee said.
Menefee said she wants to spend the rest of her life pursuing her relationship with God while walking by her best friend’s side.
“I think that I was made for Max, and Max was made for me,” Menefee said.
Email Sarah Johnson: Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org