Initially, I decided not to go for the conference due to the increase in my work load caused by GST. At work, I handle everything single handedly since I am the only staff without an assistant. As the conference was approaching, Julius, the delegation head called me to check if I was attending the conference. I told him I wasn’t sure since I had a heavy work-load, with 20th August being the last day for payment of GST, but if there was a change in plan, I would let him know. After a few days, Julius called me once again and this time I said I needed some more time to decide and that my leave was not yet granted. Without deciding whether I was going for the conference or not, I participated in “Frame that”. I also started attending practices for the competitions; Praise parade and Broadway talent. Finally, I decided to register for the conference.
My work condition went from bad to worse. I had already taken 2 days leave for personal reasons and then I received a call for an interview, which meant I needed another day off to go to Bombay. In addition to that, I needed another 2 days leave for the conference. All my leave requests were approved, but my work was incomplete till the night before the conference. My boss told me to hand over the work to a staff member of another section before leaving. I thank God for this since without it, I would not have made it to the conference. Even my bags were not yet packed the night before leaving for the conference.
After successfully arriving at the conference venue in Old Goa, the first thing I saw was 2 boys wearing a yellow T-SHIRT with the words “FORGIVE 70 TIMES 7”. From that moment on, the words kept playing on my mind. As the conference began, I got acquainted with the theme “BREAK OUT” and a voice from within kept telling me “you have to forgive to be free”. Initially, I took it very lightly.
My understanding of the meaning of forgiveness was; if any one hurt me, I must go back and start talking to that person nicely without a feeling of enmity. But the reality was, the hurt feelings remained within me.
As Day 1 of the conference came to an end, I kept hearing a voice saying, “go to the Blessed Sacrament”. Being tired and sleepy and not aware that there was a prayer room on the floor above, I decided to go to the chapel the next morning. I woke up early and the moment I heard the “wake-up” knock on my door, I left for the chapel. As I sat in the chapel, names of my friends kept coming to my mind and I did not understand why this was happening.
The sessions at conference resumed for the day and then came the session where our household heads came and prayed over us for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When Tita came and prayed over me there was a book full of names which came in front of my eyes and a voice said, “you have to forgive all these people and be free from all the hurt feelings” which were like a boulder I was carrying within me. As Tita prayed over me, I cried bitterly. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me the grace and strength to start forgiving everyone.
On the last day of the conference, I saw the outcome of my forgiveness. In my life, I just had few (5 or 6) friends who were boys, but I was hurt by them. As time passed, especially for the last 3 years I had stopped talking to any boy and I wouldn’t even smile at them. If anyone asked me to even give anything to a boy I would offer an excuse and decline. In office, if any boy offered me a chocolate it would land in the dust bin. Never would I allow a boy to be seated next to me. The same thing happened with all my friends who were girls, the distance in my relation with them increased.
But after I started to forgive, I saw a change in me. I started smiling at every one. That afternoon, I was asked by one of the team members to hand over Julius’ book which was found lying somewhere. I willingly did it without giving an excuse. The noon session followed in the hall. There was an empty seat beside me and Louis came and asked me if anyone was sitting there. I willingly offered him the seat. As the talk started, he offered me a sweet and I accepted it; and unlike before, it did not end up in the bin. I also found myself able to speak to other boys which I usually asked my sister to do. I realised that I had reacted differently in all these situations only after the conference ended.
Before the conference I just told Jesus
“I hope to make new friends, I am a lonely soul”.
Yes!! My wish was granted.
I thank God from the bottom of my heart for giving me such an experience of “Breaking Out” with the help of the Holy Spirit.