A lifelong retreat high, and a newfound family in Christ.

Growing up a Christian I often experience the retreat high. The overwhelming feelings of empowerment that comes with spending an extended period of time with God and people that share a love for Him.

It’s wonderful!

And then you come home…and you get back into the swing of reality. The test scores come back, the friends that test your faith become present in your daily life again, and in all the chaos of daily life; diving into Gods word and spending time with Him can start to feel like just another thing to get done.

It is a routine I almost got used to when it came to the days following retreats.

Until this past weekend.

Since coming to college God has blessed me profoundly. I will forever be grateful for the people I grew up with, some of which will forever be a part of my life. But I will forever praise God for the people he has placed in my life in DeKalb.

People that I didn’t even know existed two months ago have grown to be my family, the people I “do life with”.

I grew up in a church were I never truly felt I belonged. I had great friends and I grew a lot as a Christian growing up there. But it seemed as if I was just going through the motions. I did grow to have a more profound relationship with God due to the efforts of one particular couple of which will forever be a part of my life. But I never felt a true connection to the people I saw when I walked in those doors, I lacked the feeling of being a church family. The love was there. Man did I love those people, and I still do. But there was little to know knowledge of the things that their life consisted of outside of the wall of that church.

Yes I saw them on Sundays and some on Wednesday but that was it. There was very rarely just nights spent just doing life with each other. And in a church that I grew up in I often felt like just a number on a list.

The love I have for the people in my home church is rooted deep, and they will always be a part of my life. But very few of them knew my life, rather where just a part of it. Coming and going in my life as the seasons changed.

But then I came to this church where I wasn’t just a number, but rather made to feel a critical part of the church family. When I walk in people notice, and when I miss a service or event people reach out sending good regards and hopes that everything is well.

I was greeted with prayer that I had never received in such an empowering manner. People laying hands on my back and praying for me then and there, saying all the right things at all the right times.

I was faced with times of worship that brought me to my knees, filling my eyes with tears week after week.

I was invited to events by people that had an aching soul to get to know me better.

A weekly, daily, hourly, retreat high.

And then I went on a retreat, and so out I drove three hours with a group of people that had been strangers only two short months ago and I was comfortable. And I was brought to my knees in awe and worship for God. I was filled with joy as people began to outwardly express themselves to the Lord and hands where placed on shoulders everywhere I looked, praying the love of God over these people that I have grown to love more than I do myself at times.

I was convicted, brought to my knees unable to do anything other than bellow out the tears my soul had been holding in for years, sorrow for my sins and Praise for my Lord.

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Photo taken by Kathryn Ferdon

Days later I was yet again brought to tears at the love I was shown by the people God placed in my life. People that showed me great mercy when anyone else could have easily turned their backs. Grace.

Again.

Again.

My soul overwhelmed in Gods presence, and yet still wanting more.

You see, I have realized that while the three days spent purely worshiping God are days that helped mold me as a Christian, I have also come to the realization that the life God has blessed me with is truly a life long spiritual high.

The love I have been shown and the ways that God has moved in my life are impactful beyond my comprehension. And while I will forever hold on to the gratitude I have for the people and the church I grew up with, I will forever be grateful for Brightfield Church and the family I have made and continue to form.

I now have hope in every day, that God has a plan.

I only pray that you know the same.

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What if we changed the way we viewed suicide?

***Trigger warning***

I have often heard people refer to those who have died by suicide as selfish.

Why is that?

It truely doesn’t make sense to me.

“Don’t beat yourself over their choice. It was selfish of them.”

“Don’t get too down about it they knew that they were hurting people when they did it.”

Or the worst thing of all, to say to somebody who has just attempted.

“Why would you try to take your own life. What were you trying to do just leave me here?”

Seems awful. I know. But believe it or not these are all things that people have said to me or to those I care for greatly.

As somebody that had lost friends by suicide and somebody that has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past I can tell you with 100% confidence that none of those words are at all helpful. And to be quite frank I struggle to see why anyone would even think that those words would be helpful in the first place.

While I struggle greatly I also reach my hand out to extend grace to those who say those words. As they may not know the power of what they are saying. Or maybe they are struggling with their own loss and that is just how they are coping.

Understandable.

But what if we changed the way that people viewed suicide.

You see people that take their lives don’t die from suicide. They die by suicide.

They die from depression. Anxiety. Trauma. Addiction.

Ok what’s the difference?

To say somebody died from suicide would be to say that suicide is what killed them.

Now while to some extent this is true that is not what killed them. What killed them was the months or years of torture. Whether that be from mental illness or bullying at school. Suicide is the way the handle it. And unfortunately it is a coping mechanism that once complete can’t be taken back.

And I think that is what people struggle to realize.

Now yes, I realize this is a pretty risky thing to post as I know it is something that people have very strong feelings toward, but I’m not going to hold back.

I am not trying to say that people can not have their own feelings about different topics but somebody has to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves.

While I pray nobody ever has to experience grieving the loss of somebody that died by suicide I also pray that if one should come across this post and then one day relate to it that they would have a new understanding of the pain filled process that those that battle everyday feel.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or plans please call the number above. There is help. You are worth it.