While I have been home, it has been such a blessing to spend more time with my family and reconnect with my Church family here at Most Holy Trinity. I am especially looking forward to chaperoning the youth group’s upcoming trip to the Steubenville Youth Conference. While in high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend five of these conferences in addition to the LEAD program hosted by the University of Steubenville. Each of these encounters with Christ have left a permanent mark on my heart and are critical points in my journey of faith. It has now been almost four years to the day since I have been at one of these conferences and as I prepare to attend the conference in a different role, I am flooded with old memories and emotions, but above all I have experienced such incredible joy to encounter Christ again in such an amazing way!
I remember feeling so much excitement in anticipation for the conferences. After my freshman year of high school I remember going into the weekend praying that God would show me that He was real and that He loved me. Although not as I had expected, our God did not disappoint. In a moment of vulnerable prayer and adoration, I was overwhelmed; I felt God’s love rain down on me as He opened the floodgates of Heaven’s splendor on the people at the conference on that Saturday night. Afterwards, I followed chaperones and classmates outside, and while we sat in the grass huddled around empty pizza boxes, I felt so beautifully whole. My faith in God and my understanding of myself was fortified that night, and I will always look back on that moment with unending gratitude and praise.
While my heart still needs to be reminded that God is real and that He loves me, as we may all need throughout our lives, my spiritual preparation for this upcoming conference has been very different than my first trip nine years ago. I have grown tremendously in my understanding of the world and in my understanding of the faith since then and am facing entirely new life obstacles and transitions. Thankfully, my God knows my heart and meets me where I’m at.
I used to pray before these conferences “Just show me…” I was pleading. If God could just do this one thing, if God could just tell me something, then my prayers would be answered. These aren’t bad prayers. They are the prayers of an eager heart yearning for one glimpse of raw truth and love from a God I wasn’t really sure was there. Now, with the conference only a few days away, my heart is still just as eager, but it is not just for one glimpse to prove everything, because I have already been blessed with this faith, much like I was on that Saturday night so many Steubenville visits ago. Now, my heart is eager to just be. There is no more strain on my heart to find belonging because God has established me in His beautiful gift of faith. I am excited to just be with God and receive what He has for me this weekend. I am ecstatic to see the young people of our parish be touched by the love of Christ and to be with them during that experience.
I ask that you keep all of the students who are attending the upcoming conference in your prayers. Let us pray for those who are desperately reaching out for just one shred of proof that God is real; let us pray for those who are aching to feel just the slightest taste of God’s love; let us pray for those who are yearning for just a day of peace amidst the anxieties and hurt of the world; and let us pray for those who are seeking just an idea of the direction they should take—because I have been all of those people, and because of your prayers and our amazing God, I have experienced incredible peace, conversion, and faith.
Thank you and God bless,