I lived a fast-paced life and used to go from one party to another. Eating in all the fancy places and shopping was all that I cared about and soaked myself in. I remember once after many years I sat in the Church missing the Catechism days and observing the youth involved in church activities I envied them. Though always being on the move was fun, I didn’t have anyone to stop me when I did wrong. That’s when I received an invite to the CLS.
I came to know about the venue and it was the very place where I had experienced my first-ever miracle! I had prayed to God and He had healed me. There were happy memories associated so I was very excited and went shopping to get a cool outfit. When the day came, I dressed up well and even invited a couple of my friends to join me to the retreat (P.S. – I forced them!). Upon reaching the venue we realized that we were an hour late, which was typical of the girl gang.
Then the first talk on “God’s love” began and it was given by Diana. My relationship with the Heavenly Father was always on and off. I would get mad at Him and run away, then come back crying to Him. In the end, I always had Him. And when the walk of life got tougher, I assumed it’s okay to hurt Him because I was hurting. After the session, I received a letter from my Almighty God. I opened it and started to read. In one place it read,
“And I will never stop doing good to you”
~ Jeremiah 32:40
“For you are my treasured possession”
~ Exodus 19:5
“When you’re broken-hearted, I am close to you”
~ Psalm 34:18
The letter ended with the words, “My question is… Will you be my child? I am waiting for you”. I realized that I was the one who pushed my Father away and all He did was love me abundantly through it all. God wanted me to be His daughter so that we could go through life together as a team. God sent His only Son to show how much He loves us (John 3:16). The next part was group discussion where we talked about instances when we felt God’s love and when we thought God didn’t love us. The second session was about ‘Jesus’ by Jeovito and the last session was about ‘Sins’ by Francis. The Ten Commandments took me by awe as I didn’t realize that gluttony was a sin.
I grew up in a world where people ask “How are you?” as a formality and didn’t care what the reply was. At the retreat, I was taken aback when I met people who looked me in the eye and asked me how I was. I grew up believing there is no one I can talk to about my problems or how my day had been, and in the one-on-one session when I was asked this, tears rolled on. I had never cried before anyone but at that moment it felt okay to be vulnerable. To have met them just a few hours ago and to open up was not easy. I bombarded the group discussion lead will all the questions I had about God. I spoke about the reasons why I ran away from God. From this one-on-one session, I gained clarity about the relationship with God and myself.
As I had friends who are atheists and Satanists, it had been hard for me all these years to keep up the faith. It felt alright when I ran away from God. Having no one to talk about the fights I have with God made me distant from Him. I believed in the lies – It’s alright to hurt someone, it’s ok to drink and smoke, to watch porn is ok, and so is to kill yourself. The only thing that matters is you and your happiness – this used to be my understanding in this self-destructive world were doing everything that was against His will was considered ok. Though I had everything I wanted and did whatever I loved there was always a void in my heart that no one could fill.
The part where we meditated before Confession was for me the best part as it involved singing praises to God and thereafter I found that writing down my sins and preparing myself for Confession was tough. I was scared because it had been seven years since I had last confessed. I thought God will never forgive me because I purposefully sinned. I sinned so that it would hurt Him. I wanted to hurt Him and all I did afterwards was dunk my head in the sand. Over the last few months, I got scared of God. Every time I spoke with Him I asked Him to stay away from me because I was so scared of Him. With a heavy heart I went for Confession and when I came out and prayed I felt light and relieved.
I felt genuinely happy. It felt like the void in my heart was filled. None of the parties I had been to made me feel the happiness I felt. I finally realized that I had been missing God.
The last part was praising God through action songs. We all sang and danced and laughed and that’s is how the retreat came to an end.