College Conference West | I Would Walk Away Changed
I drove up to College Conference with a few other people, excited about what we would see when we arrived. We were up there for two half-days and two full days. There, we spent time attending church services, communing with other Orthodox youth, and attending lectures. We stayed in small cabins, the girls at the top of the hill, and the boys at the bottom, and had wonderful food.
The goal of the conference was to bring us closer to Christ through the topic “Come and See”. The love that each person shared with me through fellowship and heart-to-heart meetings helped me to see how Christ shines in us. Importantly, I think, the struggle to interact and learn was what taught me the most.
During the conference I was really struggling to interact with others and to pray from the heart. I was often confused. Mother Victoria’s talk on silent prayer and stopping to meditate when we encounter God’s grace in prayer really helped me think about my prayer life. She also reminded me of the need to stick to a prayer rule. Father John’s comments on relationships–for example, that the family is together for dinner less often–helped remind me that I really need to focus on relationships, not distractions. It was encountering Christ in others and struggling to live these words to the fullest which was truly important to me. But it was a struggle, and I noticed my imperfections all the way.
I chose to go to College Conference because I remembered that I had seen Christ in others the last two times I went, and I wanted to see Him again. I also had a blast with friends. I did not get what I expected. I was tired (possibly sleep-deprived) during the conference, and often seeking but maybe not seeing. But God was teaching me to be more grateful. Each time I would walk away changed, and thirsty for Christ, and maybe a little more open to Him. I will take the stories Fr. John expounded on of St. Photini when she met Christ at the well, and of the Apostle Nathaniel when he was told to come and see then proclaimed Christ as king. I will take them to my heart, so that seeing God in everything becomes the goal of my journey.
It was also a joy to interact with friends there. Even now, weeks after the conference, I am seeking little ways to make my friendships and family relationships more meaningful. I challenge each and every one of you also to “come and see” where Christ is working in you. The College Conference is a place where you can continue this journey, as well as ask Him to renew you in it.