This weekend I had the privilege of attending my very first retreat with Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) after just over a year of growth and journeying with others in the community.
I had known that I would be going on this retreat for a few months already, and eagerly went to register when registration opened up. Little did I know that it would come at a pivotal time in my life, in the midst of a battle, and that it would shift my life to focus on something new.
This is a fact that I don’t take lightly, and it’s difficult for me to admit.
I spent my entire life working to earn the respect of people around me by saying yes to everything. I would try my best to bend over backwards to get things done, even at the expense of myself, if it meant that I could win the approval of one more person.
With this mentality, it made it difficult for me to view myself as someone who deserved to be love, and further, to view any kind of relationship as nothing more than transactional. That love was transactional.
I’ve spent the past 6 years in constant battles with myself and the world around me. The retreat came at such a time where everything was coming to a head, and I couldn’t have planned it that way. God had a way.
One of the biggest takeaways from this weekend was this beautiful image of the risen Jesus meeting with his apostles.
We focus a lot on the fact that He is risen – something that, in this current season of Lent, we wait in anticipation for – but something that I had overlooked was the presence of His wounds on His body.
When Jesus resurrected, His body wasn’t rid of the wounds from the nails and the spear to His side. The wounds were still present on His body, and this would serve as the proof that Thomas needed to believe that Jesus was truly risen (John 20:24-29).
What was shared with us was that these physical wounds that were on Jesus’ body is like that of our own wounds in our own life. For me, I know that I expected Jesus to take away my wounds. I wanted Him to remove any trace of shortcoming and failure from my body and soul. But time and time again, these wounds would re-open and would impact me greatly. In the present moment, I find myself in one of those times.
Jesus has the power to take away these wounds, but sometimes they remain in our life as a way to stay connected to us and remind us of His presence. And at first, I didn’t get that. If my wounds were healed and removed, I could feel better about myself and focus more of my attention onto Him.
In my prayer, I found the reason. One of my great wounds – a lack of humility – was the one that kept re-surfacing. I wanted to take great control of my life and wouldn’t let Him in. I kept Jesus at arm’s length. I was looking in all the wrong places for healing and focus so much on holding myself up that I forgot to lean on Him.
This wound was Jesus’ entry way into my life, and it serves as a great reminder that I need Him.
My wounds, in a unique way, are my connection back to Jesus.
But instead of looking at them like the burdens I thought they once were, I want them to help to keep me humble in the face of Jesus. To use them as a reminder of my need for Him.
For Jesus, His greatest wound was my lack of trust in Him. It is through a lack of trust that cost Him His life, and yet He still loves me.
This is a powerful reminder.
Surrounded by the beautiful nature of Camp Jubilee, I felt myself change, open up, and feel content with where I was at this particular moment. In the midst of the battle I am currently fighting, I am reminded of my need to hold on to Him.
Calling me by name, I will respond. Through Him, I can do anything.
Big shout out to the CCO family, both new and old, for the extraordinary weekend and for helping me to renew my love for Christ. Your witness is amazing!
Lead image: Shannelle Bautista, CCO