Two weekends ago we as Guatemala YAVs had our final retreat. As we talked about going home, we thought about all that we have learned. I struggled to articulate all the changes I feel within myself, but I believe that all I am learning can be summed up in three categories:
Perhaps this lesson is the most important thing I have lived and learned this year. I left my saxophone behind and have not used much music this year. I have gained more than twenty pounds and I have been terrible about keeping up my blogs and doing my reading assignments. These things that have I have used to define myself for so long were suddenly gone. GONE. And my reaction? Grief. I experienced grief. Not over a dying relative or lost friend, but over my definition of self. the definition that was a constant stress to maintain. The Vanderbilt graduate, Blair School of Music student, and athlete was lost. You would think I would have felt freed. But as it turns out, I am a little shy and I had nothing left to hide behind. It is probable that the current language and cultural barrier that I live with exaggerated these intense emotions of completely shedding my stressful comfort zones, but when I finally let go, when I finally escaped not only my expectations to perform but learned to ignore those around me, I was joyfully free. I have never experienced such liberty and grace in my life. Its a wonderful feeling. I recommend it highly. Let go of your idols and live in faith that God knows our needs and he is with us.
I was really struggling to articulate what I have discovered this year, but thanks to the Youth of Albany Presbytery and the two other facilitators Hector and Luis, my experiences of the last week solidified some of my newly learned lessons. God knows my need. He sent me an extraordinary group of youth, their chaperons, and my two co-facilitators. God is with me. These wonderful people reminded me how much I am loved and what a huge capacity we each have to love others. God gave me value. I am full of worth no matter how well I translate songs, sermons, and games.