Friday night at the leader’s retreat was chill, and good. We got to know each other a little better as cabin groups – girls and guys. We had a fun drive out, Tara, Shira and I, and I surprisingly semi-knew where we were going, at least to get into the park.
Friday night featured an epic girls’ dance party and then Remain part one. We spent the weekend digging deep into John 15, and it was a very cool study to do together as youth leaders. Then after the guys left we had girl talk till nearly 2 am—you know, about ridiculousness and how we all imagine Michael Buble [as a young boy holding an ice cream cone and wanting to play tag].
I have to say, I was really reserved all weekend, which isn’t like me. I only knew one person really well [Tara], and I’m not the most social in situations like that. But I think I did open up a little bit over the course of the weekend, and as my relationships with my fellow youth leaders grow, I’ll be able to do the big-group stuff a little better. Small groups, I am fine. Groups of twenty, I kind of tend to take a backseat and just chill.
On Saturday we rounded up at the guys cabin for breakfast and then headed back to our cabin for Remain part two, then determination of our spiritual gifts and how we can use those to serve in youth ministry [my top two were faith and mercy].
Later in the afternoon, six of us went for a hike. Now, here’s the deal. I didn’t take runners with me. I went for a hike in pink Chucks. I stepped in mud. That sucked. I also had to walk over a log and balance, which was really scary—I have crap balance. One guy was behind me making sure I didn’t kill myself, and Brenda came back across to help me and hold my hand. I am not an athlete. Chucks probably did not help. Also probably did not help that it was a four foot drop beneath me into like, swampy mud. I survived. We kept walking and at one point, four of them wanted to climb some hill or something, so Leslie and I turned around and went back by ourselves, which was a nice opportunity to get to know her better. She’s an occupational therapist, so we had lots to talk about :-).
We had a really chill afternoon playing Catch Phrase with the other female leaders on either side of the hike, and had four hours of free time in which to just chill and play silly games. At about 6:20, ten minutes before dinner, we looked out and saw that we had one car to get nine of us to dinner—apparently all our cars were at the guys’ cabin 2 kilometers away. We could’ve called the guys, but instead, we piled nine of us into Shira’s small car – folded the backseat down, myself and one other leader sat on the edge of the backseats, Brenda in the trunk, three others half in the trunk and half in the backseat, two others in the front seat and of course, Shira driving. It was crazy. There are pictures, but nobody has Facebook’ed them yet.
We had some dance parties at the guys cabin on their deck, Tara, Brenda and I. It was a blast. That was the theme workout of the weekend – dance party. I can dig that.
After dinner, we were back at our cabin for Remain part three and some Saturday night worship. Worship and prayer was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend [see also: nine of us in a car]. Singing How He Loves in a circle in the living room with Jamie and his acoustic guitar in the living room, with huge windows and the lake looming around us, it was just gorgeous. So, so focused. We moved into prayer afterwards, which was equally amazing. It is hard to be in a place that’s breathtakingly beautiful with eighteen other faith-focused people you’re a team with and not feel very close to God, very hard to feel not part of something big. I think God really worked overtime in all of us over our weekend together, and it was really amazing. I don’t think anybody stayed tear-free during prayer, it was just amazing.
I used to not understand the need for fellowship as a follower of Christ. I didn’t get it. But I think after this weekend, I understand why we need to be a body in Christ—to meet each other where we’re at, to support each other, to care for each other, to pray for each other, to LOVE each other. To be vulnerable. To heal. I learned things about my fellow leaders that yes, I’ve gone through too. Yes, I’ve felt that too. And that’s really cool.
I also learned I have a lot of work to do in my relationship with God. Granted, I know that I’ve been a Christian for much less time than most of my new friends have. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, I didn’t go to Sunday School. In some regards, I, five years later, am still really just beginning. However, that makes my journey no more or no less valuable than anybody else’s. I shared my testimony with Shira [and Tara again] on the way to the cabins. It’s not something I do often, just when it comes up, but transformation just amazes me.
Transformation by Christ just amazes me. The transformation He’s done, the transformation He did in us this weekend as a body, and the transformation that is yet to come. Growing in Christ is a metamorphosis, in which we only continue to get more beautiful from the inside out [Romans 12:2 / 1 Peter 3:4].
It was an amazing weekend, and I feel totally blessed to have been a part of it. God is SO freaking good it blows my mind sometimes. He provides. He loves. And He builds us, changing us from His glory to a bigger piece of His likeness, even deeper into His glory [2 Corinthians 3:18].
I can’t wait to see where He takes us next as a church community . . . as new friends.