Surrender: A Reflection on My SLS 20 Experience

Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they may also be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:24

In this Bible verse, Jesus prays that we can be with him. He wants everyone to witness his glory. He wants all of us to give ourselves to him without reserve and to share the Gospel with others because we’re all part of the Body of Christ.

In other words, we were made for mission.

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Going to SLS 20 in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the cactus picture) reminded me that God created us for community. Mankind is not meant to be alone, so we do life together. We’re meant to share our very lives with one another and evangelize to others with the gift of ourselves in friendship. Because of this, we have to be “all in” when we become missionary disciples of Christ. At SLS, I attended Mass every day with 8,000 Catholic college students, and prayed in Adoration almost every day. I heard from the world’s leading Catholic speakers, like Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Bethany Madonna, Dr. Edward Sri, Emily Wilson, Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, and so many more. A common thread among their talks included God’s unfathomable love for all of his children. We have to reach those who don’t know God and invite them into a relationship with him, and we must do so with urgency. We’re the ones that will bring the lost back to Christ, and we take our mission seriously as we share in the Great Commission. After hearing talks about evangelical incarnation, moral authority, vocations, and how God longs for his people, thousands of Catholic college students and I are now equipped to make disciples of all nations.

When I first created this blog, I promised to share all aspects of my faith journey. I want to use Radiant with Joy to share the highs and the lows of growing in holiness and striving for Sainthood. If I don’t do this, then I compromise the mission of my blog, which is to show you that you don’t have to be perfect to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. For this reason, I share an unfortunate part of my SLS experience. Despite having a missionary heart and the knowledge that I’ve gained from SLS, I still don’t feel qualified to embark on the mission that I was made for. I make invitations, I practice intercessory prayer daily, and I talk with friends about Jesus. Nothing I do works. I feel like I’m the exception to SLS’s tagline, “You were made for mission,” and yet I went to the conference anyway, hoping that something would change. On the last day of the conference, between the final keynote speakers and our closing Mass, I sat among my friends from Rock Catholic in a sea of my peers who will set the world on fire. I sat there and cried because I knew that I couldn’t do any of the things that the speakers had told me to do. It doesn’t matter how badly I wanted to change the world because I feel like I can’t.

I don’t know if I’ll ever win, build, and send even one soul for Christ, but I can still surrender myself to him. During the New Year’s Eve party at SLS, we were surprised with Eucharistic Adoration. Shortly after midnight, priests and seminarians brought the Blessed Sacrament to us and we all fell to our knees while Matt Maher played a few praise and worship songs. We began the decade with our Savior. On January 1st, I completed the 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian Consecration, and I’m excited that my Blessed Mother will perfect my prayers and distribute them with generosity that can never be outdone. Later that night, everyone gathered for Eucharistic Adoration, where I continued to surrender myself to Christ. Kneeling with my hands open, I allowed him to give me his grace to follow him closely and do his will for me.

Although the purpose of SLS is to send its attendees on mission who will bring other students and young adults to Christ and then send them on mission, I came home from SLS with a soul surrendered to God. I encountered him so deeply through my Marian Consecration and through Eucharistic Adoration, and I’m dedicated to spending more time with God in prayer and doing his will as closely as I possibly can. I came home from SLS with a much improved prayer life, and I’m excited to continue praying the rosary daily, reading and reflecting on the Mass readings, and conversing with God by bringing him praises and intentions. I came home from SLS with some much needed serenity, knowing that whatever God’s plan is for me and whatever my mission will look like, I’m in his hands. I still feel lost as I wonder what my mission is, but now I can rest in the surrender of being a beloved daughter of God and a closer disciple of Jesus.

~Stay radiant!

14 thoughts on “Surrender: A Reflection on My SLS 20 Experience

  1. Wow, what an experience you had! Thank you for pouring your heart out. It seems to me you are growing steadily closer to God. And where you say you feel like you CAN’T do it, my first thought was…. you won’t… it will be GOD, working through you that WILL do it. Whatever and whenever HE wants. But, by you praying, spending time with Him and waiting on and being ready for Him is how you WILL DO whatever HE is calling you to do. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It will come! Sometimes the mission is to wait. Sometimes it’s just to plant seeds, and you work super hard, but never see them sprout. It’s tough not seeing the fruits of your labor, or watching others succeed where you feel like you fail, but God works all things for good for those who love him (Rom 8:28). I am so incredibly proud of you Madeline! I can’t believe I had the gift of teaching such an amazing young woman. 🙂 The Lord is doing great things with you and in you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Miss Ackerman!! I think about you and what you taught me all the time! You made my faith so much stronger in the year that you taught me, and I’m so thankful for that! I’ll keep doing my best, and I’ll keep you in my prayers 🙂

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience, as always the journey to sainthood is not an easy one, we are always going against what the world tells us, but knowing we’re not alone helps a lot, prayers for you and your road to sainthood💗🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing your SLS 20 journey with us. You may not feel it but you are already settting the world on fire with your words and actions and prayers! Continue to keep God in your heart and life and the rest will fall into place. Sending my love and prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

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