Right after Christmas, I had an annual event with my youth group from church. We rented a huge house in Langley for three days as our end-of-the-year retreat. The youth retreat is the time where we get together, learn and share the gospel, and just have fun with each other’s company. This year we had a phone prohibition. I thought this was a great idea because this way, we can have more time chatting with each other and just being present, instead of floating away in our phones as we scroll through our instagram and twitter timelines. It was fun to finally disconnect to reconnect. It’s good practice for me too when we go to Tonga. I want to be able to comfortably start conversations with friends without making it awkward (hopefully) and not resort to the urge to go on my phone.
This year’s theme for our retreat was UNASHAMED. We learned to be unashamed to share the gospel and we should be unashamed of our weaknesses. These two topics really resonated to many of us.
At this time, it is hard to share your beliefs to other people. One of the main reasons is because we don’t want to be judged. There are many stereotypes for religious people and Christians tend to be portrayed as these prude goody-two-shoes kids who think they’re above everyone else. Of course, this is not the case but we still fear of being seen like that by our friends, so we don’t end up talking about our faith to them. We have learned that we should not be unashamed to talk about God to our peers. Especially if they are going through tough times and in need to see the light. It is always good to try, if they do not comply with what you are sharing, then stop. Our youth leader, France, told us that it is ultimately up to God when/whether that person will accept His word or not. If they still don’t want to believe, then don’t force them. As our pastor said, don’t put salt on a wound, let it heal by itself. Let them find their own way to God. At least you know you tried.
The other topic was to be unashamed of your weaknesses. The last quarter of 2017 was particularly the toughest times of my life. With all the stress and pressure from school, home, the future, and from myself, it was hard not to have a mental break down every few weeks. To be honest, because of all this stress and self-loathe, I have become ashamed to present myself to God. I have stopped praying because I wanted to improve myself before coming back to Him. This is where I realized my mistake. God does not care whether we are broken or not, He will love us either way. He is always there for us to lean on and I should have recognized this before. I have fallen into a pit of darkness these past few months and after learning about His word, it finally came to me that He is not one who shuts the door on people He loves. He welcomes us always with open arms. We should not be ashamed of our weaknesses because it’s what brings us closer to Him. Our weaknesses make us realize who we need the most, and how important it is to surround yourself with people whom you trust and love. That’s what my youth is. A group of people that I can count on and be vulnerable with.
Those three days of the retreat was such an eye opener for me and helped me look forward to a better 2018. I am more enthusiastic and eager for our Tonga trip this spring break because I know that I will be able to learn more things that will really open my eyes and give me a whole new perspective that will affect me for the rest of my life.
Here’s to a joyful 2018! Let’s keep working hard 🙂