Timehop recently reminded me that four years ago, I was riding home from a Steubenville Youth Conference with a bus full of teens from my parish. In case you were curious, Morgan and I are acting out our newly assigned nicknames that I totally forgot about until now. She was waterfall and I was durango. Why? I have not a clue.
I went to Steubenville Conferences for four summers during high school. In those weekends, I was surrounded by thousands of Catholic youth, incredible speakers, heartfelt music, mass each day and life changing Adoration.
I kneeled on the auditorium floor until I physically couldn’t stand up, wore matching t-shirts with the ones I worshipped with and made endless friendship bracelets to give to the ones that I grew close with and still am today. Each experience was so unique, but what held true through them all was God’s overwhelming presence.
The faith that was alive was astounding! Almost too good to be true. God worked in me so much that I didn’t want to get back to “the real world”. I thought that I couldn’t feel and know Him as much as I did on those retreats. In my mind, ordinary life just wasn’t equipped to give me that “God high”.
I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the God at Steubenville was the God who dwells in me. It just didn’t seem possible that He was the same one I was praying to in my bedroom and the same one in the Eucharist at my church. How could I feel His radical love changing my heart on that college campus but not in my everyday life?
To my teenage self, stillness meant neglect. If the monstrance wasn’t inches away from my hand with Bob Rice’s soothing voice in the background and the people I love praying over me, God seemed far away. I would simply just have to wait another year to be fueled back up because I couldn’t do it on my own.
Once the suitcase was unpacked, real life hit. But Steubenville was real life. It was always real and God’s great love for me was still very much on fire. He was speaking to me and He never ceased. He never changed. I did. And I compartmentalized the Lord because I did not allow for Him alone to be enough.
Is it easier to be filled with zeal when the guy behind you is speaking in tongues? Yes, indeed. Is it easier to believe that God’s grace is sufficient when the girl next to you is resting in the Holy Spirit? Yup, that too. The problem occurred because my faith was limited to these moments. I wish I could go back and shake myself because I thought that anything other than extreme meant nothing.
It can be difficult to transition from a profoundly emotional and massive event to the ordinary but living at a retreat is unrealistic and impossible. Not to mention, it disregards its purpose of taking what you learned and what impacted you back into your life to correct your erroneous lifestyle and inspire you to keep seeking the Lord above all else.
In the homily this past weekend, the priest joked about the title of the mass. The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Woohoo ordinariness! What an intriguing and passionate description! So maybe the church’s depiction of God’s extraordinary ways is a little less than enthusiastic but that doesn’t change the vast power in normalcy.
This ordinary life is filled with everlasting security. He is for us and He is fighting this battle in our place. Our Lord took it upon Himself to wipe away all of our shame and forgive every sin. This is as atypical as it gets!
Our vision and ability to fathom God’s perfection is so limited. God loves more in a moment than any person could love in a lifetime. God takes away all fear and replaces it with unfailing peace. Our Father does this persistently, whether you notice it or not. This isn’t average to me!
God’s great gifts to us are not of this world. He gives us a glimpse of heaven on earth. Especially in the Eucharist, our Lord draws us close, the closest we will ever be until we are in complete union with Him in heaven. Again, this is anything but ordinary!
Life’s conditions may move us be He is not shaken. God doesn’t have highs where his soul is running rampant or lows when his faith is diminishing. He will never be stronger, His wisdom will never increase and His love will never grow because it is already immeasurable! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” – Hebrews 13:8.
No matter what your scenery is, who you are surrounded by (if anyone) or what life is throwing at you, you can count on his unparalleled presence. He is the only one who never fails. Nothing is off limits to where His right hand will lead you. God will supply you with everything you need.
I surely hope to go on more retreats to experience more of His truth and love. I actually just talked to a couple friends today about attending one in August! Thankfully, I know that getting away is not the only source of His revelation. He is here now in His fullness. He is pouring His extraordinary self into ordinary people. God is so alive in the monotony!