When I first read the prompt for this essay, I was stumped. I tried to literally answer it, coming up with all of these vacations I’d been on, and road trips I’d gone to with my friends. But then I realized– a true trip that changed me is not merely a physical one, but a mental and spiritual one as well. The Life Teen sponsored Leadership Conference at Notre Dame that I attended last summer, fulfilled both. During a week at Notre Dame’s gorgeous campus in South Bend, Indiana, I was able to dig deep into my soul and find what it was I was missing.
The week was full of many leadership workshops, concerts, talks, and friendly fellowship with other Catholic teenagers from across the country. One night during the conference I decided to go soul searching and God was defined to me in a whole new way. As I knelt on the ground and Matt Maher’s band came out to sing songs of praise and worship to our King, I humbled myself and left the physical atmosphere and went into a deep place to cleanse and renew my love in Christ. As I stared at the Blessed Sacrament in my mind, I realized that this was my God, my Lord, and my Savior. That any time I wanted I could run into the arms He left open for me when He died on the cross. After spending much time in deep thought and prayer, it became relevant what it was I needed to do. I needed to dedicate my life to Jesus Christ, right there, right then.
The lights came on a little bit later and we took our seats. Mark Hart, commonly known as the Bible Geek, came to the floor to give a talk that stabbed into my heart and changed forever changed my faith. He said, “In order to live, we must die.” At first this statement was perplexing to me. I didn’t understand what he was saying. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t on the surface and that it was my mission to dig deeper than I ever had before. I had to go to the places I didn’t want to go and I had to grab hold of my soul before it got away from me. That night I died to self leaving my pride to utter its last breaths and allowed the only One that will ever truly love me to carry me away. That’s when I learned that it’s not about how we are living; it’s about what and who we’re living for!
The week at Notre Dame was filled with many other hidden lessons and values. It is a deep hope of mine that many more teens will follow the narrow road to Christ. Learning the leadership skills that week prepared me for the fight that I was soon to face in this “Culture of Death.” Before my week at Notre Dame’s campus I was empty and through a massive conversion of the heart I was made beautiful. My trip was one I’d love to take over and over again, and I know that one day if I continue on this road, I will be vacationing for all of eternity.
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