I shared in my last post that I came to Exploration 2006 solo. I’ve never been one to have an issue showing up somewhere by myself. Even though I’m an introvert, I don’t have any issue with meeting and getting to know new people. I love traveling (one of the many fringe benefits of the Explo event), and I love hearing people’s stories.
So when I arrived alone in Jacksonville, I wasn’t exceptionally uncomfortable. I quickly found a group of other folks who also came without a group, and we made quick friends. Many of those people are still friends today, and I know they are praying for all the Explo participants right now.
Although the worship experiences workshops, and small group experiences were formative, the most important part of my Explo experience was forming relationships with other participants.
I knew I was called, and the ministers in my life understood that and supported me in that call, but most of my peers, though they were supportive, did not truly comprehend my journey. The experience of being called is one that cannot be put in words. It is something that is difficult to share with someone who doesn’t know that feeling themselves.
So when I began to engage in conversation with other participants at Exploration, I was amazed. Each time I shared a story or a feeling or a frustration, I was met with more comprehension, understanding, and compassion than I had been since my call journey began. It was incredible to be understood so well by people I had just met.
This morning, our teaching time included a word from the Lord through Rev. Juan Huertas. He encouraged us all to hear God’s voice through others in our lives. He reminded us that we are not alone — that the Spirit is with us. He encouraged us to trust in the Spirit as we continue on these journeys of discernment.
It’s not always easy to trust in the Spirit. I am not always that strong or faithful. But when the Spirit moves in a group of people such as those found here at Exploration — in the community of understanding and compassion that is not easily found elsewhere — it is powerful. It is a unique opportunity, and I find incredible encouragement and strength in thhe community here.
I hope you who are participating are finding that experience as well. I hope you have felt that connection. I hope you have felt understood and cared for in a way you might not have felt before. I hope you know that you are Not Alone.
And again, for those of you who are not here, please welcome these young people home with open arms, and even if you don’t fully understand what they’re experiencing, love them through it.
We are Not Alone.