My real retreat experience

The most amazing things have happened to me in the past two days.

I went on retreat, reminding myself to keep my heart and mind open, convinced that this would bring life back to my heart, and inspire me to be who I am created to be. For me, this was going to be self-healing and empowering. But when I got my small group, and met with them, I realized that I felt very uncomfortable. Two of them I went to grade school with, three of them were good friends of friends I had in middle school, and one of them was one of my best friends. That wasn’t too hard in itself- but then, my small group leader was too comfortable. He knew all of them except three of us. He was very excited, and talked often of things they used to do or people they knew. I felt somewhat excluded, but even that wasn’t too bad. Open heart. Open mind. Not until he said the one thing I regret the most: “I’m not really into that God shit. We don’t really have to talk about that.” Immediately, before I even had the chance to share with them my deepest self, the deepest part of me was shut out. My heart closed up without me even realizing it, because I wanted to keep myself open to the hardships and happiness of the others in my group, and the friendships that could be formed. But I didn’t share much. Retreat went well. I enjoyed it. But I didn’t get out of it what I thought I would, for myself. Instead, I was asked to be there for others, and sacrifice what I needed.

So when I got home, I fell apart. I felt drained. I didn’t get what I wanted. I felt like something was taken from me. I was just plain upset.

But that night, when I went to bed, I finally had time to think. I finally got to reflect on everything that had happened to me on retreat, and find meaning in it all. And then I found the rosary that I always have with me, the one I forgot to bring on retreat, and I felt this overwhelming peace in my heart. This relief washed over me, and I felt calm. My mind was clear again, and suddenly I started seeing how everything happened for a reason. I realized in that moment how much I rely on God’s love in my life, yet I take it for granted every day. Being away from God for 24 hours was enough, and I never want to take God for granted again. I am so thankful for the doors that were opened for new friendships and truth, and I am so glad I had the experience I had.

Today, I went to confession. It was different from any other confession I have ever been to. Before he said anything else, the priest told me I had such a bright smile. He started asking me about college plans and then home life, and I just started talking to him. It was so unlike a confession I was used to, and when he asked me to say my Act of Contrition, I almost said, “For what?”

I hadn’t confessed anything! Yet, I felt more forgiven and lightened than I ever have! He truly inspired me to bring joy to those around me, and taught me how to listen to others and be patient with my role in my communities and family. But even though I had prepared myself to confess my sins, maybe I needed that instead.

These experiences have taught how to be open. I guess I never knew before. It is okay to have expectations, and to prepare myself, but if things go a different way, I have learned to accept it and be open to it, and find meaning in it. This is what brings true satisfaction and happiness to me.

Trust in God completely, because He will always exceed your expectations. Know that God really does always have a plan, and sometimes He throws a curve ball, just to see if you’re paying attention 😉