My Conversion Experience

13 March 15
Dear God,

Somehow I only meet You in my journal at these retreats.

Lord, tonight I surrender to You my false self, my bitterness, my anger and my temptations. Today I am not who I want to be. I am frustrated at where I am, who I am, and that I cannot go beyond myself. I can’t make the transformation. I just know that there is something more in this life for me but it seems unattainable. Why this gap exists I do not know. How to close the distance I do not know. I know that I’m tired and I have lost hope. I wish to be renewed. Jesus, please place in me a new heart, a new spirit; a new life. I am not satisfied with my current life and I want to be made new. But I guess that’s only possible if I lay my old life down.

As I step into grace tonight I ask selfishly of that which I do not deserve: I ask for your love Lord. Conquer me, break me wide open, make me bare and naked where I cannot run and hide anymore. Take my hand and hold me. Strip me of my defenses and leave me weak and wanting of you. Reduce me to a child again Lord and let me cling to you. This is what I want from you Lord. And I ask for the grace to surrender all that holds me back. Show me your everlasting mercies. Fill my cup Lord, fill my jar.


14 March 15,

Dear God,

I lost my identity as your son. I lost my identity as a boyfriend and a partner and I gave in to the lies and deceit of the devil. So Lord Jesus, today I claim the healing and the forgiveness You have granted me through Your grace. By your wounds I have been restored to wholeness in You. Today, Jesus, I claim my identity that you have given me:

I am a Man of God who will serve You. I believe in chastity and purity. I believe in honesty. I will give myself fully to others. I will always put you first in my relationship. I will entrust the struggles of my relationship to You and You only. I may not understand, but You do, Lord. I will support and care for her because You loved me, Lord. I will bring truth and light into this my relationship, no matter how tough, Lord. This relationship is meant for You Lord. It will complete us and not alienate us.


15 March 15,

Dear God,
You show me again Your faithfulness. You have restored me to fullness with you. Your goodness and kind heart did pursue me! I remember when the Blessed Sacrament was restored to the altar, that I was reminded of You, the Suffering and Crucified Christ, who has already endured all my trials and experienced my desolations. I found comfort in seeing you suffering for me and I am glad that I am healed by your stripes. Thank you for releasing me from the bondage of a false identity.
Jesus, I also pray for a gift of counsel and the ability to journey with others. I want to serve You in Your kingdom by tending your flock. Bless me Lord that I may serve you.
What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him – 1 Corinthians 2:9

(These are unedited from my journal during my time at Treasure (a young adult retreat) and reveal the story of my life over the past month where I had become angry and bitter. I can only say that God has reached down the depths of my darkness and brought me back into His light and restored my identity. I am a fragile, earthen clay pot, but yet I hold an immense treasure within me: my Lord Jesus Christ.)
[joel]

Being a Child

“Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)

When was the last time you were a child? No I don’t mean childish, but childlike – a moment of innocence, silly amusement, trust, uninhibited by your own need for control? What about in your own spiritual walk with God? When was the last time you really embraced the idea of being God’s child? Perhaps when were you last dependent on the Father?

Those questions popped up in my mind as I read this gospel passage sometime last week. And I thought long and hard, before finding a simple childlike moment in a recent visit to the bird park. Lorries Loft (think many many small parrots flying in a huge aviary) brought out the kid in me. Finding a childlike moment in my faith was a little more difficult.

“Woohoo independence, I’m all grown up!”

I just recently turned 24 and have been working for slightly over a year. Through the years, I have progressed, grown old enough to pay my own bills, give my parents monthly allowance, make a big decision about career and a relationship. It’s not just the visible signs of adulthood but on the inside, I feel and see how my capacity to question, to rationalise, to make a choice, all expand with age.

Ah it’s so easy to learn and put on this “grown-up” way of thinking such that life – my decisions, my thoughts and even how I decide to prioritise my time – can be easily defended in the name of personal choice and rationalisation. This mindset has slowly crept into my spiritual life… The other day I was on the way home from work, feeling a little restless all week and a thought came “Maybe I should go by ado and some qt with Jesus will help quell the restlessness in my heart”. And then the “adult” side of me took over – But I’m tired, working’s tough y’know, I haven’t had dinner, I should be responsible and spend time with family, I need my rest so that I can be better at work tomorrow, some sleep and rest will help instead yadayada”. A simple example but maybe it illustrates something deeper.

“Hey, you’re my child!”

I’m not dismissing the validity of those statements but I suddenly realised… hey I take on more “adult” roles and responsibilities but that shouldn’t mean I neglect my primary identity as God’s child right? In this relationship, God’s the parent while I’m the kiddo, so maybe my role is less to argue or rationalise about time and difficult life situations but more to listen to what the Father is saying about them. And that moment of restlessness, my Daddy was calling me to Him.

Being a child isn’t the most natural thing for a young adult. I’m at the stage when I feel like dependence may sometimes be a sign of immaturity and weakness, where I feel like I’ve the power to choose what I want to do, who I want to be. And yet… The Father’s call is simply to be his child. I realised that in the craziness of growing up, deep inside there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty of whether I’ll make it in this adult world – something I’m too scared to admit that I haven’t quite figured it out.

The safest and probably most apt “place” to be a child, is with God. He calls me to be vulnerable and real with Him – to share my fears like how a child rushes to his/her parent for reassurance when he sees something scary; to tell Him how my day really went like how a child does when he comes home from an excursion; to trust the Father with how my life will turn out just like a child trusts a parent when he attends his first day of primary school. It’s funny how I feel like I’ve to learn how to be a child again with God. I’m still learning how to grow in my dependence and trust in Him, to strive for a simple faith and not one merely propped up by theological understandings and of course, to surrender my life to the Father.

Perhaps then, the more we grow up, the more we need to be like children.

God Bless,
Jessica

Jess had a crazy childhood with four siblings. She can’t remember a lot of it, but she does still adore “My Little Pony” and “Winx Club” (Don’t Judge!). Being the eldest has shaped who she is today – responsible, a little bossy and mostly quite motherly.

Mk9:38-43,45,47-48 [26th Sunday in Ordinary Time]

30th September, 2012 Readings: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith…”

Upon reading this Sunday’s gospel, I was struck by this phrase and was reminded once again of the need to be “a little one” – not only in the sense of my identity of being a child of God but also in simply being childlike.

I loathe being childlike. It necessitates that I do not know everything about something, forcing me to not be the know-it-all I usually rather wish I were. It requires me to be vulnerable, for a child has no defences against the dangers of the world. Most of all, it requires me to be humble; it requires me to smother my pride. Yet, this is exactly what God is calling me to be. I am called to change my life and the way I live in order to reflect His will in me.

I think, if anything, I’m a creature of habit. I like familiar places, familiar people and a familiar routine. I think it takes a lot out of me to be out of this comfort zone. Once again, this is exactly what I’m called to do; I’m called out of my “cave”. For it is in this familiarity that I have found myself stagnating. And it is stunting my growth as a person. I have failed to see how some aspects of my life have become unhealthy.

I hate to admit that excessive gaming sometimes is an issue for me; however, it has become my tool to escape from work and reality. I know that if I continue down my path, I will definitely face ruin. So I have been trying to cut down on it as much as I can to focus on my studies. It really feels like I lost a limb sometimes (yes pun intended) but as Jesus says, “it is better for you to enter into life crippled”. Truly, I may feel a tinge of withdrawal, but I know I am walking into life. Ultimately by changing the way I live, I now rely on the Lord’s strength to overcome my hardships instead of just deluding myself. In Him I am truly alive.

We may be facing many problems at the moment. And because of these things, we have found it difficult to connect with God. In the Gospel, a man whom the apostles did not know was casting out devils in the name of Jesus. It may seem that we do not know God and sometimes it really seems He has abandoned us. But Jesus reminds us that despite all this, all we need to do is to call on His name, and in Him we too can make miracles happen.

“Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these.” So says Jesus in another part of the Gospel. Let us be children, and call on our Abba Father.

Love,
Andrew