During my junior year in high school, I went on my church’s annual Winter Retreat. Going on this trip became very scary and nerve-racking since I had only begun going to that church just a few short weeks prior to the retreat. I didn’t know anyone, including the youth leader that was taking us. Well, at least, I didn’t know them well enough to feel comfortable going somewhere nearly six hours away from where I lived. Still, something pulled me to go. Something gave me the confidence to go on this trip with complete strangers. However, I didn’t expect that this trip would eventually change my life forever.
I was sixteen when I went on this retreat, and I couldn’t remember ever feeling more alone. The trip was at Big Bear in California and was to last one weekend. On our way over there, I kept asking myself, Why am I here? What do I expect to gain from this? The truth was, I was there to escape my life at home, but I didn’t expect to gain anything from it. I didn’t believe in God. I didn’t care about anything. Though, there was a girl about my age who sat next to me and the whole way there, we talked and laughed and acted like complete fools. This was very odd for me since I didn’t interact with people much. It wasn’t easy for me to make friends. We finally got there around eight o’clock at night. The rest of the church’s who had arrived earlier were eating dinner in the cafeteria. We joined them and once dinner was over, we went into the sanctuary for worship and to hear the word of God. During the first hour, music played. Surprisingly, my ‘I don’t care attitude’ vanished when I started to cry so harshly. I felt everything that was troubling me be lifted off of me. The feeling I got was greater than any high I’ve ever had. That night, I gave my life to God, I repented of my sins, and I allowed myself to have some kind of hope. I finally felt like my life was worth living and that it had a purpose in this crazy life. I didn’t feel so alone anymore because I knew someone greater than all of us loves me and was watching over me.
The rest of the weekend, I felt accepted and even though I still separated myself from the group, I felt like I somehow belonged. I will always remember this trip because it opened the door for me to let me know that I’m not alone. It helped me get through the dark times I was facing and it helped me gain a few friends that I still hang out with today and hopefully, will be best friends with someday. When I returned home, I knew I was returning back to a life where no one in my family went to church and to friends I loved to act non-godly with. I didn’t know what I was going to do or where my life was going. All I knew was that going on the retreat reintroduced me to God and going on this trip was meant to happen so that I was reminded that I had someone that I could lay all my suffering on. I wasn’t alone. That is why this trip is so memorable because it gives you a sense of hope. Of love and acceptance. Most importantly, it gives you a the joy of being in love with GOD.
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