In the valley you made, you’re not meant to be.
-Sidewalk Prophets, Prodigal
Nothing happens without a cause in God’s plan. Maybe it means something when lyrics get stuck in my head even when I think it’s no longer applicable to me at the stage I am currently at in life.
So much of this retreat was wasted as I had mostly given up hope and refused to open up. I was so tired of emotional breakdowns at every camp, followed by self-conciousness, wondering if people thought less of me because I felt I appeared to always be in tears. I was so tired of feeling a spiritual high that eventually fades, especially the most recent one from Camp Empowered ’16 that disappeared without a trace once school and “the weight of the world” came into play..
To me, the Lord had always been an empathetic God who provides healing for those who have been hurt. I felt hopeless because no matter how much I told Him that I was emotionally, mentally and physically drained, it seemed to me I was talking to a wall in my daily prayer. I’m ranting to a silent listener who doesn’t offer to help. I seemed to forget that He is also a refiner and purifier who sometimes has to be stern to shape us in His likeness. (Malachi 3:3)
Only on the second night after being quite hysterical about the proceedings of the night session, a sudden realisation bloomed (like the flower of God’s Grace ;)), that maybe I overthink my problems, making them appear bigger than they seem, maybe I am making these problems my excuses for not putting in the effort required towards building my personal relationship with Christ, maybe it is time for me to take a step back from the quicksand of self pity and see the possibilities of gratitude and positivity, maybe I was not offered comfort because it was not what I needed.
And I did get what I needed, in the form of unwelcome nagging from certain people in my life, and in the form of Almost Every Session in camp- prior to my realisation -which I chose to casually dismiss as unrelatable.
As I come to recall now, He (through the speakers) emphasised the importance of community, the people around us, to have respect for others even when their experiences differ from ours. Who am I to choose to be beyond empathising with others because of my “intellect”? I may have felt like a misfit occasionally and thus subconciously decided to stop trying to understand others as a defense mechanism, but who am I to block out people who did not purposely leave me out but happened to spark certain emotions in me simply because of who they are? I realise I need to stop isolating myself and enjoy what I can of community, especially those that will further nurture the relationship I have with Christ. Human relationships will never not be rocky, there will be some who test the limits of my patience and those who cause me to feel as though I have been repeatedly stabbed, and yet I should remember that he called us to love, regardless. Furthermore, I also recall a sharing about friends acting as harsh but well-meaning reminders for us to question our intentions behind the actions that we take that do not seem wrong which fits perfectly as a description for my sponsor’s criticisms and serves as a reminder to take things from a positive and growing perspective. Of course there will be words that scream injustice and misunderstanding, I pray for the wisdom to differentiate between the two and respond accordingly. I am reminded that while important to keep in touch with emotions, I should not allow feelings to become obstacles in my faith journey. After all, while the Lord speakes to us in examen through emotions, it is important to be clear about who is speaking. Is it really His voice? Or is it my selfish desires speaking over God?
Apart from that, sharings within the group reminded me that I may not have an entirely perfect loving family, but I still have more than some others. My relationship with family has definitely improved and my sister’s return to my school- despite many rough patches -was not as bad as I anticipated. I feel this is something I should be grateful for as I patiently await the complete mending of my relationship with certain family members. I am affirmed it will happen by a testimony also during this retreat.
Finally, while this camp has stood out like a sore thumb in being a slap in the face instead of the usually consolating experiences I’ve had, my overall takeaway is to embrace positivity and gratitude while eradicating sloth that prevents me from fulfilling my responsibilities as not only a Child of God to rebuild my relationship with Him and refine my people skills but as a scholarship recipient to procrastinate less and better manage time for schoolwork.
School restarts tomorrow, pray for me. Everyone has flaws so please be kind about mine that I shared above. I wanted to do reflection for last years catechism programme camp in this same post but decided that I would share it in another post due to the difference in theme 🙂 Do look forward to my testimonial! ♥