Today, I attended Elegate 2012. It was an amazing experience. In some ways it reminded me of my Protestant roots. A large group of young adults singing loudly, praising God, and listening to a talk meant to lift and inspire us all. It made me feel more comfortable. It made me truly realize that there are young Catholics who are just as fired up about their faiths as my Protestant brothers and sisters, despite the popular belief to the contrary. I knew that before, but now I have seen it demonstrated in a way to which my friends would be able to relate. And it was wonderful. Also, the young priest that was the speaker told us a little about his background and it was very similar in many ways to the stories of a few former pastors of mine. He spent his high school and early college years getting into trouble. Drinking too much, drugs, the “party scene,” stealing. Until he had a radical encounter with the forgiveness of God at confession (and this is where the similarities end) at a retreat that he was talked into going to by an older lady at his parents’ church. Up until this point, most of the priests I met had either not shared their stories or had been born Catholic and lived the faith faithfully, surprising no one when they decided to enter the priesthood. It’s nice to see that pastors of the Catholic faith are as varied as those of the Protestant faith.
But, more importantly, there were lessons for me to learn from the night about my faith. The priest spoke about surrendering to God daily, a reminder that I needed very much. I have, on more than one occasion, surrendered my will to God’s (eg. becoming Catholic even when it would have been easier to say no), but I don’t do it often enough. I have an occasional “life changing” experience that stops me in my tracks and turns me back to God’s will, sort of. But then I call it good. And I don’t think about it again until the next life changing experience. But I should be surrendering daily. I should wake up in the morning and say, “God, I don’t know what you have in store for me today, but I’m ready and willing to go where you tell me, to do what you want me to.” I should not only be surrendering to God in the big things in life (eg. career and family), but in the little things to.
For example, as you know, I gave up Facebook recently. My intentions were in the right place. I wanted to stop distracting myself from God and give Him more time in my day, the time that I used to spend on Facebook. But I’ll be honest, that’s not quite how it’s gone. True, I don’t waste time on Facebook now. Instead, I browse pinterest, catch up on blogs, read books that I have been dying to read, find random chores to do around the house. None of these are inherently bad, but I filled up the hole in my day that Facebook left with more things rather than giving that time to God as I should have, much like the priest’s seminarian friend that he told us about. This man left his lucrative career, broke up with his girl friend, and abandoned all his plans to follow God’s call. But while in seminary he filled the hole these big things left in his life with smaller things, like new ipads and smartphones, rather than filling it completely with God. He came to his senses and repented. I want to do the same. It is my goal here on out to surrender daily. Hourly. However often is necessary to stay on God’s track, not my own. I won’t always be successful, but I hope to improve greatly and to recognize when I fail.
I will try to share more of the lessons I learned tonight soon. But this will have to do for now. Peace and blessings!