God gave me the opportunity to attend the World Youth Day (WYD) once again, this time in Madrid, Spain. Unlike the last time, when it was about the thrill of experiencing the rich Catholic traditions and the worldwide Catholic family, this time was a pure and simple personal experience. I went to Spain not realizing I was full of guilt and pain, having ended a two year non-relationship relationship… I know I tell the youth whom I work with, that the right thing to do is to bring the relationship to light, but I was living my own lie. Having ended badly, it left me feeling betrayed, angry and just plain hurt. It was anguish. I had just turned angry and bitter and everything and everyone was getting on my nerves all the time. I was backsliding at work, didn’t want to meet anybody… all I wanted to do was stay home curled up in bed. I was at the brink of my breaking point! Today I see how God just allowed people to be there for me during that time; my counselor, my travel agent and my forex agents.
However, life has to move on, right? So it was “chin up and face the world” for me… but a special friend noticed that I was still hurting even when I thought I was okay. And there I was thinking I was fooling the world and myself. He told me that I needed to unmask and take my broken self to Jesus or else I would just carry this pain on and that it would one day be insuppressible. I went thinking I was OK but actually hanging on by a thread and told God: “I’m here, do something.” Even though I went to attend the WYD, I did very few of the official activities. There was a center for English speaking pilgrims, that was set up by the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus, and the moment I stepped into that place, I felt this sense of peace. There was such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit.
There were sessions given by Jason and Crystallina Evert and even though I had heard those talks before, this time it was like they were talking to me personally. I was able to just go before God so many times in those two weeks in the various churches I visited and in the time I spent before the Blessed Sacrament at the center. I was able to simply come before Him. I came before Him bitter and broken… each time crying… that I could no longer live with that shame and guilt and pain… that I did not want to carry that forward and God is such a merciful God. He was there NOT judging me but just silently listening. Until I had the courage to picture this boy in my mind’s eye and with Jesus to tell him that I forgive him and that I set him free and myself free from the guilt and shame and sin. I did this repeatedly, bringing every encounter to my mind and letting them go one by one, until I was overcome with this overwhelming feeling of love and a deep sense of peace that is… well … indescribable!!!
This entire trip God reminded me of His special love for me. A love that is pure, unconditional and that I need not do anything to earn it. Not only that, He spoiled me by allowing me to experience Him in so many ways. I came back home realizing that if God for two months gave in to my every, and I say again ‘EVERY’ whim and fancy, why do I try to be brave and chose to do things alone? I came back knowing that I have a Father who is going ahead of me every step of the way, fighting my battles for me and it is He who should be the center of all that is going on in my universe. Just take one thing from this: No matter what you’ve done or what you are going through, Jesus loves YOU! Really!