Just 2 weeks ago, I was getting ready to attend the very first OYAN Winter Workshop! It was an amazing week, and I learned a lot - as I always do at OYAN Workshops! It seems like at each OYAN Workshop I leave with a different revelation or lesson. At the 2012 Summer Workshop, I just left feeling like I was a part of something SO much bigger than myself. That I was not alone, but a part of an army. Before that Workshop, I had been mostly trying to face every problem that came up in my life just between me and God - which is good, but I realized after the Workshop that instead of running off by myself where I could be easily attacked more, I should be running to the army of other believers who could fight along side and pray with me. So since then, I’ve been in much closer communication with other OYANers and shared more of my personal struggles with them. It’s been awesome, and I’ve become a lot closer to many of them through it! Last semester was mostly a semester of change and preparation for me. I was off by myself in college in Indiana, but I felt like God really wanted me to spend as much time as possible forming relationships with other people and strengthening our “OYAN army”. So I tried to, even though I was far away from everyone – I ended up driving 9 hours home almost every other weekend just so that I could spend a few days with people… But it was worth it, and I learned a LOT that semester and became so much closer to God and to other people!
Really, at the 2012 Summer Workshop, I just came away with the revelation that we are all part of a Master Story so much bigger than we can see, made up of each of our individual stories. And even though each of our lives is just one part of the Master Story, each of our lives is still important and still matters. We all have a significant part to play. And with all of us joining with God and fighting together, we CAN change the world. So that’s what I learned from the SW. On the last night, with us all huddled together in the “circle of feels”, I also felt like the time was coming soon when I’d have to wake up and “fight”. I felt that something big was going to happen soon, and that I was going to be a part of it, though I didn’t know what.
Cue Winter Workshop. The WW was amazing, though so much different than any of the SWs have been. I felt like whereas the SWs have been more focused on the strengthening of the whole OYAN army, the WW was more focused on individual growth and encouragement. I think a lot of things contributed to that, but having a smaller group of people definitely helped! I received a lot of encouragement throughout the week: through people just saying kind and encouraging things, through the stockings at the end, and also at the prayer and worship service on Sunday. I realized a lot of things about myself that I’ve never noticed before - strengths I’ve never realized I had and ways I’ve helped and encouraged people that I never knew about. Overall, it was just really awesome both to get so many personal encouragements and then be able to give my friends encouragements in return.
So that’s a little of what I felt the difference was between the SW and WW, but that’s still not what I learned from the WW. It’s taken me a few days to really understand fully what I learned from it, but I think I mostly do now.
I came to the Winter Workshop excited and ready to be inspired and reinvigorated. I expected to have a similar experience to the SW - but what I got was so much different. Yes, I was inspired by every session Mr. S gave - as always, his sessions were amazing and profound! And yes, it was incredible to be with my family of OYANers again. But when the Workshop ended and everybody left, it wasn’t a sense of reinvigoration that I felt. I didn’t leave with the feeling that something amazing was just beginning. Instead, I left feeling like something had ended. I didn’t know exactly what the feeling was or why I was having it at first. But then I remembered what I’d felt at the Summer Workshop - that something big was going to happen, and that it would soon be time for me to start fighting. And then I realized… that time is now. What has ended is my time of preparation. My time of being a child.
My time in Narnia is over.
I still don’t know entirely what that means or entails, but I know that from now on I need to stop viewing myself as an insignificant child and start viewing myself as a warrior… God’s warrior. With a true plan and purpose within His Master Story. Some things happened at the WW that, frankly speaking, crushed me. I found out some things that I never knew, things that made my life goals seem impossible, and things which changed my way of thinking completely. But since then, God has been telling me over and over again, “Don’t give up! I can do the impossible! I have given you these goals, and if you keep your faith and hope in Me, I will fulfill them!” So that’s another thing I learned from the Winter Workshop. That sometimes God gives us goals that seem impossible. But that’s what hope is - believing in the impossible. “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Romans 8:24-25)
So overall, short and concise, what I learned from the Winter Workshop: I am no longer just a child preparing for life. I am God’s warrior. I have a purpose. And the time has come to start fighting for the goals God has given me. Those goals might seem impossible… but they’re not the Him. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I know God has a plan for me, and I know that I’ll never stop fighting for it. I’ll hang onto the things in life that are truly important: I’ll keep having Faith. I’ll keep Hoping. I’ll keep Loving. Because Love is always the most important thing of all.
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