That burning in your heart right now? Don’t worry it’s not heart burn. You are experiencing the post Steubenville fire! Your heart is filled with the love of Christ and the joy that He gives to those who follow Him. You sang. You prayed. You danced. You listened to the Holy Spirit speak truth into your heart through some amazing speakers. You took way too many selfies and maybe even a picture with Mama Bear. You experienced the mercy of God in confession. You witnessed Christ truly present in the Eucharist. Now that we’re reminiscing, don’t you kind of wish you could stay forever? I hate to break it to you, Peter, but you have to come down from the mountaintop!
Like Peter, who witnessed the beauty of Christ at the Transfiguration, we often want to pitch tents at the top of the mountain and stay. However, just as Peter did, we eventually have to come down from those mountain top experiences back into our daily lives. It can be difficult to translate that mountain top experience into something that actually changes who you are and how you live. So, I’ve put together five simple steps for how to let what happened at Steubenville actually change your life.
1. Write it Down
One easy thing you can do to help keep the Steubenville fire alive is to take some time to process the conference and write down what you experienced. If you don’t already keep a journal, maybe now is a good time to start! You don’t have to use it every day, but keeping a written account of certain moments in your faith life can be an invaluable resource. Write about what you experienced, how God spoke to you throughout the weekend, what it was like to feel God’s presence and how you think God is calling you to act now that the weekend is over. If it helps, write these things in the form of a letter to God or to your future self. When the fire starts to die and the routine of daily life sets in, you can always read this letter and relive the weekend, reminding yourself of the zeal and joy you felt during the conference.
2. Make a Commitment
You went to Steubenville and now you recognize that there are some things in your life that need to change. While we sincerely hope you had an amazing experience at the conference, none of that matters if it doesn’t actually change your life and lead you closer to Heaven. You have to take the experience you had at the conferences and actually let it move you to a deeper relationship with God. I recommend setting one simple and achievable goal right now. Maybe that goal is to increase your daily prayer time by ten minutes, to give up a habitual sin, to pray the rosary every Saturday or to invite three non Catholic friends to Mass or youth group with you. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can do it all. Make your goals SMART–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. (You can read more about SMART goal setting here.) Finally, don’t forget to ask God for the grace to keep the commitments and goals you make!
3. Share Your Joy
Once you’ve taken the time to process the weekend and commit to making changes in your life, share the joy and love you encountered at Steubenville with others! Think about it this way, if the God you experienced at Steubenville is real and everything the speakers talked about is true, if God is really the only one who can satisfy our thirst and if his mercy and grace are necessary for eternal life, then how much do you have to hate somebody to not share that with them? If you believe that our God is the one, true God and that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our salvation, then why in the world would you not want to share that Good News with everyone you know! Let the joy of Steubenville overflow into the hearts of every person you encounter in these coming weeks!
4. Be Accountable
It can be difficult to keep the fire alive on your own. Ask a friend, parent, sibling, youth minster, etc. to hold you accountable to the commitments you made. In fact, I would challenge you to share your goals in the comments below as a way of making yourself accountable. Continue to surround yourself with friends who will challenge you to continue to grow in holiness and spread the joy of Christ to others.
5. Keep Trying
Remember when I said these were five simple steps? Well, I lied. Making real change in your life if difficult. We are all human and so by nature are prone to fall back into the trap of sin and the lies of the devil. When you fail, don’t let it get you down. Run back to the Lord like the prodigal son. Our God is a God of second chances and He will never tire of forgiving you.
I hope these five steps are helpful as you navigate post-Steuby life. I would love to hear how Steubenville has impacted you in the comments below. I pray that the Lord would continue to cultivate the seeds he planted in your heart at Steubenville and that you would have the courage to let your experience at Steubenville actually change your life.
Live holy, friends!