Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/Living Out Your Faith/My Life Steubenvilles, Social Media, and Blessings: Summer Reflections from a Life Teen Apprentice by Kellie Goff I was listening to Chance the Rapper on my 398 mile drive home to California as I both sang on the top of my lungs to “Blessings” and thought of the many experiences I encountered this summer as a Life Teen Apprentice. I figured that the 6 hour drive home would be a substantial amount of time to reflect and give many praises to God for all the ways my eyes, ears, hands and heart encountered Him alongside thousands of other teens across the country. And as I turned my volume up almost full blast and gave other cars a reason to stare at me like I was a lunatic, what they didn’t know was the joy overwhelming my soul… a joy so indescribable that all I could do was… well, yes, embarrass myself. This summer I had the most blessed opportunity to serve as a Life Teen social media apprentice, sharing some of the goodness God was doing at various Steubenville conferences. In short, I was able to join in such beautiful prayer for weekends at a time with other people who love their Lord. I saw God’s goodness in the various Lone Star youth group parishes going crazy and videoing them before sessions starting, and then having the opportunity to talk to them after about what they were most looking forward to. As a woman, who had to oh-so discreetly capture parts of the men’s session talk in Atlanta, I found myself in tears as I heard young men reminded that they have a good God who provides them the strength and the courage to combat the lies of the world that they face so often… and to then hear the echoing voices of these young men fervently belting out in worship. At Steubie East, I found myself in awe of the fierceness and relentlessness energy these teens brought by being themselves both when dancing to “Shake it Off,” but also when praying together during Adoration. At NYC, my heart pretty much exploded seeing the courageous young men and women stand up when asked if this was the first time truly saying “yes” to a relationship with Jesus just before entering into such a reverent Mass. I’m Gon’ Praise Him So much of me believes without a doubt that many of us who encountered a Steubenville or Life Teen event this summer felt the same burning, indescribable sensation to shout out for joy of praises for our Lord… like I embarrassingly did on my drive home listening to Chance. So many of us “turned up the volume” of our love, our openness and surrender this summer in such a way that it cannot be contained. And I think I understand why. I think we finally allowed ourselves to taste just how absolutely good God really is. But, what troubles me is that I know I don’t think this way all the time. I’d like to believe that even when my praises for God feel dried up or His blessings for me feel finished, that I’ll remember the truth about who He is. I’d like to tell myself I’ll always see God’s goodness in even the most difficult of situations. But I’m human and stumble more than I’d like, failing to recognize such things. Forgetting God’s goodness is something I think we’re all guilty of, but we can recognize His goodness in an extraordinary experience like Steubenville, and, take active steps towards recognizing His goodness in the most ordinary experiences. I love God because of how He tirelessly calls me deeper, despite my moments of not realizing just how marvelously grand, blessed, and good He actually is. Even when I don’t know Him, or forget who He is at heart, He never forgets who I am… His child. And this is why He deserves all my praises. So, ask yourself right now this. Heck! Take out a piece of paper and answer this question down: how will you seek to recognize God’s goodness outside of Life Teen events or youth group settings? Maybe you’ll devote an extra ten minutes in prayer each day, thanking God for the blessings of that day (you could even set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself!). Maybe next time you’ll turn off the music in your car and for every stop light you stop at, you name 3 good things God has done in your day. Or, maybe you’ll offer a compliment to someone who reflects God’s kindness and goodness in your life! When the Praises Go Up… So, praise Him! Praise Him even when the alarm clock rings and your hands reach for the snooze button because of a new day. Praise Him for the patience He will work in your heart when waiting for that college acceptance letter or His voice in times of discernment. Praise Him in your misunderstanding of that friend, that project, your parent’s rules, that He may pour wisdom into your life. Praise Him amidst your darkest hour because He is not finished with you. Praise Him when all within you seems gone, for He has promised you an eternal spirit with Him. Praise Him for His mysteries and graces in allowing us to fall, just so we can find Him all over again. But, most of all, praise God because He has made you for goodness, from Goodness Himself. …The Blessings Come Down Now, it’s not easy returning back to the normalcy, messy and even unpleasant day-to-day of family, classes, sports and certain friendships post-Steubenville and Life Teen experiences this summer. That is why it is crucial to have a prayer-plan for yourself! Trust me, working my trust and faith in God to reveal His love and kindness to me when things are messy, historically speaking hasn’t been my strong suit. I’m with you there. But, what I have discovered is that when you hold your heart out and offer even just a sliver of trust, amidst the heaviness and messiness of life, God showers you with His blessings and purpose in time. When a friend says horrible things about you behind your back, when the stress of college apps diverts your focus away from Him, when you feel like nothing you do for anyone is enough, when your parents fight, even when you want to convince every fiber of your being He must not be good, or you fall into temptation with your girlfriend/boyfriend, God will be God. God will remain who He is and He is Goodness. Every time He will prove to you, because of your sliver of trust, that He never fails to love you, comfort you, redeem you. So, for those that went on a retreat, camp, or Steubenville conference this summer, you met unconditional Love in the Eucharist, in Reconciliation, in the goodness of those around you. And when you couldn’t contain all the joy in your heart, all the praises on your lips, the Lord’s blessings showered down because, my friends, that is what God does, that was Jesus’ mission on earth for you. Steubenville, camp, whatever you encountered this summer, was only the beginning to the fullness of communion God desires for you since, well, that is what He made you for. As Chance the Rapper asked me, “Are you ready for your blessings, are you ready for your miracle?” Because God is ready for all the blessings He has yet to fulfill within you.