Sometimes Life Sucks . . .
That was the theme of this year’s Young Adult Retreat at Cedar Ridge. When I first heard about this event a few months ago, I figured this would be a really good way to get connected w/ the young adult group at CR, considering that I’m really too shy to just go up to them after service and get to know them.
Not to mention, I was ecstatic about the fact that Brian was gonna be the featured speaker, and we’d be covering topics such as depression, loneliness, lust, conflict, worry, doubt, malice, a difficult past, etc. Clearly that’s right up my alley
A few weeks ago when registration started, Folami asked for volunteers to maybe share their personal experiences. I have a love/hate relationship w/ speaking in public. I love it b/c I’m generally pretty good at it (if I can use my nervous energy in a positive way), and I’m not too ashamed to admit that sometimes I get a kick outta the attention . . . but the low self-esteem issues always come into play, and I’m a nervous wreck before I speak.
But I decided to volunteer anyway. Folami immediately asked “what would you like to talk about?”
“Darling, I’m familiar with it all! I could hit any of it!”
We settled on waiting for other volunteers to sign up, and I would simply talk about the things they didn’t. It turned out that no one else was really willing to talk about much (save for depression), so I just gave a general testimony and hit pretty much all of the subjects I could in a 10 minute talk.
Per usual, I was nervous as hell, but I think it went OK. And I’m soooo glad I went on this retreat! Cedar Ridge has felt like a very safe church from the start (a feeling I’m not used to) . . . and even after sharing about my battles with depression, loneliness, and anger and my sexual struggles . . . they all accepted me in love. And since I was the first to speak, I think I set the tone for the weekend – giving people the ability to be vulnerable and get something out of this discussion.
Other hightlights of the trip: getting to shoot the breeze with Brian, getting to know some really cool folks, getting to be one with God’s beautiful nature (in the sylvan hills of West Virginia).
There are 3 folks that get a specific shout-out, b/c they’re just cool like that . . .
1) Jimmy. He drove me to the retreat center, and he really laid my heart at ease. If I had any doubt about the sincerity and general coolness of the young adults at CR, Jimmy laid those fears to rest.
2) Grace McLaren (Brian’s wife). There are just SO many things I could say about her! I particularly appreciated the banter b/w Grace and Brian. She’s got moxie! She unabashadly questioned Brian at every remark. It was awesome. She added so much to the discussion. But more than that, she and I had some more personal time, and she asked a lot about my past, and gave me some extremely helpful information about “NFs” (intuitive feelers – if you’re familiar w/ the Meyers-Briggs typology, you know what I’m talking about). I learned quite a bit about myself.
3) Jonathan. We had a lot in common – at least in the way we deal with the world and all of it’s mess. Sometimes, I feel so alone being the emotional, overanalytical, internalizer that I am . . . but folks like Jonathan remind me that I’m not alone, and that I’m more than OK with being who I am. (If you’re reading along, J, thanx for being around, bro . . . hope we get to chill more in the future.)
There’s tons more I could say about the retreat, but I don’t feel like going through it. If ya wanna know the gory details (’cause it wasn’t all fun and games) . . . call and ask!
On a more personal note, I have to admit that after coming back from the retreat, I emotionally bottomed out once again. I guess that’s not surprising considering the fact that I haven’t slept well in weeks, I haven’t been indulging in my usual coping mechanisms, and I’m having issues all over the place with my relationships
I hate, detest, despise, loathe this emptiness . . . this spiritual and emotional vacuum that exists in my gut.
The deep cries out . . . yet finds no connection with deep. It’s unbearable torture. Why the hell was I made this way? Why doesn’t this shit ever seem to get better? When will the tears stop?
I know that God is there . . . but I don’t know why He seems to be standing idly by and not fulfilling the deepest desires of my soul. It hurts I don’t even know who I am or what this is all about. I can’t even put a name to what it is that I yearn for.
Yet, I won’t let this conquer me . . . I won’t let this keep me from relating, from knowing, from serving, from protecting, from teaching, from sharing, from growing . . .
Lord have mercy.