Metanoia: a change of heart, a Greek word with a definition that does not fully capture the beauty of the experience.
This past weekend, I attended my own Metanoia retreat, alongside friends and strangers.
We all came with personal struggles and battles.
Without fully knowing the weight upon our shoulders, we felt that God was calling us toward this time and place together.
Arriving late Friday night, we were quiet and uncertain of what lay ahead.
But it is within our own uncertainty that the beauty of pure transformation lies.
We heard testimonies from fellow students that opened our eyes to the true power of God’s love.
Through our small group discussions, our minds began to question so many deep theological concepts.
Where is God working in my life? Why does it feel like he has abandoned me? What is he calling me to do?
With a heart full of doubt, I did the best I could to submerge myself in the prayers, meditations and the discussions.
I yearned to hear God’s voice speaking to me as our Gannon University’s campus ministers led us through prayers.
But while I sat on a cool marble window seat on the stuffy, fourth floor of this old retreat center, it hit me. God never hid himself from me.
Instead, he knew that my life was one of too much noise to hide in the quietness that I overlooked. God worked in little, magical ways to reach me.
Throughout this weekend, he spoke to me through the interactions I had with others.
He felt the loneliness within my heart and placed these amazing individuals here to work at molding it.
Metanoia resembles that of a metamorphosis. You enter as a clumsy caterpillar, maybe not being the prettiest version of yourself.
Yet, you overcome a stage of loneliness and hardship, coming out the other end as a miraculous butterfly.
And with the wings you have been granted, you spread joy and love to others.
I may not have had my own metamorphosis overnight, but God has been working at my heart for a long time coming.
I thought he had abandoned me and I know that many of my peers felt the same. But through this time spent in reflecting on God’s love, I found that he was there the whole time.
He has been finding me in the mini metanoias, the small changes of my heart that slowly morphed me into something with a little bit more joy and a whole lot more love.
This past Friday, two vans and a car left at sunset to embark on a journey of faith.
We all came from our own crooked paths full of twists and turns that had damaged our hearts.
But standing together later that Sunday, I felt whole, surrounded by the love of people who understood my heart and a God who had been working at filling it.
It was 5:20 p.m. and we were all so loved.