Retreat after retreat, Life Night after Life Night, summer camp after summer camp, we hear our peers and mission leaders and youth ministers talk about the times when God “spoke” to them. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been blessed with the proverbial voice of God blaring through my head like a loudspeaker, telling me exactly what to do. So whenever someone brought up their “voice of God” experience, you can bet I got jealous. But over the last few months, God has spoken to me in a way I never imagined; not in words, but through the workings of my life.
This past summer, I boarded a plane that took me to the Life Teen mission base in Haiti. It was a week of prayer, sacrifice, discomfort, peace, and, above all, being Christ’s hands and feet to the people who physically needed it the most. It sounds contradictory, but the healthiest and most well-cared for people we met there were the children at the orphanage we visited on one of our last days in the country.
We had brought all my younger sisters’ old Silly Bandz with us to give to the kids. As soon as one of us would take out a handful to start passing out, we would be swarmed by enthusiastically clamoring children. A few children hung towards the back of the group shyly, not reaching or grabbing or calling for attention, but observing. I made a point to go to them first, these beautiful children just waiting to be noticed, waiting to be loved.
In Haiti my family got to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners – all the things that Christ has called us to do. The mission partners would continually ask, “How can you be missionaries at home?” I eventually came to the conclusion that living a missionary life at home meant reaching out to the spiritually hungry, naked, and imprisoned. I didn’t understand the significance of that call, however, until I experienced it myself.
A few months ago God gave me the absolute gift of an experience that left me feeling more unloved, lonely, and left out then I had ever felt in my life. It wasn’t that I was made fun of, or gossiped about; in fact, I was unacknowledged. I was simply ignored. It lasted no more than an hour or two, but I cried to my mom about it the whole way home.
When I reached the safety of my bedroom, I was all set to rant angrily in my journal about talking but not walking Christians. It was then that I realized that God had been speaking to me. I felt left out, out of place, and unloved for an hour. Countless people feel those things to an unimaginable degree every day of their lives… and often because of me.
“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders”?
That border for me starts wherever people are left out, ostracized, lonely, and vulnerable. The people who most need love are not always the ones with the flashing neon signs that say “OPPORTUNITY TO LOVE GOD HERE!!!” Oftentimes, it’s the quiet orphan on the fringe of the crowd, waiting to be recognized and loved for the child of Christ that he or she is.
Christ calls us to love with abandon – so let’s do it.
Let’s not become fearful of what our friends will think if we have a conversation with the new person at youth group. Let’s not hold back from loving the people all our friends find annoying. Let’s let the Spirit lead us to living the Gospel instead of just hearing it.
Think back to the last time you felt alone or uncomfortable or awkward. How much do you wish that someone had reached out to you, just to offer a smile or a conversation, an acknowledgement that you were alive and worthy of love?
This is our faith. This is the root of what God has chosen us to do. Out of love for us, Christ sacrificed His life. He calls us to do the same. It’s not always something drastic, like being a martyr or becoming a missionary. Most of the time, it’s simply loving others as He has loved us.
Editor’s Note: “In My Own Words” is a section of blogs on LifeTeen.com that contains submissions from our readers. If you love reading LifeTeen.com and want to contribute a blog about how you, as a teen, live out your Catholic Faith in your life, feel free to email your submission to Christina at [email protected] Please keep submissions under 750 words.