Two weeks ago, I went to help staff a retreat called Bayou Awakening. Three and a half years ago on a whim, and what I might have once believed was a complete accident, I “made” my Awakening. For those of you who haven’t been on an Awakening retreat, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to give away any of the juicy details :) Suffice it to say its a very, very good, very Catholic, young adult retreat that I highly recommend to you/your children! (Although not religion changing for me personally, it served me in other ways that maybe one day I’ll expand upon).
This retreat occurs twice a year, but I missed the last retreat this past Spring and then the previous Fall retreat was canceled due to Hurricane Ike, so it had been over a year and half since I had last staffed an Awakening. Staffing a retreat and sharing with others is like a rejuvenation for your spiritual life, although it involves a LOT of work as well. I was almost convinced that I wouldn’t be staffing this one at all due to our crazy schedule this fall and now being married, but I knew I at least wanted to have one more Awakening experience and an opportunity to “share with the young’uns” before I officially ‘retired’ from this particular mode of outreach.
And what a great retreat it was this year! I still find it amazing how you can be so tired and so busy, but if you give that little bit extra, God will reward you in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
The purpose in sharing all of this about this mysterious Awakening retreat was to share how over the past two weeks during/since the retreat, I had (or remembered) a pretty profound personal revelation. That is, what a gift Faith is.
Ok, so stay with me. I know that sounds all hokey and cliché. Of course a typical Christian is bound to eventually say “Yay, Faith!”. But this realization hit me very profoundly.
Faith is a gift.
You cannot earn it and you cannot force it.
It’s like a talent, like singing or being good at math. Yes, there are things you can do to get better, but ultimately, faith is a gift.
And the only proper response is gratitude and thankfulness.
The older we get, the more experiences we have and things we encounter and some of these things will just destroy our faith. Destroy our faith in ourselves, in others, in “the system”, in families, and in God. People’s different experiences affect them in different ways and sometimes it can be so hard to rise above them and still have faith. It was good for me to remember exactly how hard and frustrating it can be. And how when we finally do get faith, it is still not because we earned it. It is still only a gift.
I say “remembered” since a few Awakenings ago I actually gave a talk on Faith. Yeah I know, after giving a talk on it you would think I wouldn’t forget about it, right? It is more like, after being on this side of the “faith fence” for so long I forget about what it was like to be on the other side, looking through and wondering what the other side is like.
So I guess the whole point of this is to say that I’d like to share my talk on here. Its pretty personal and I think I did a much better job speaking it than I did writing it, but I’ll share it on here in chunks (since its kind of long) anyway. Look for it this week!