So you just got back from the incredible *insert name here* Christian/Catholic Conference. You heard inspiring talks; you participated in competitions; you made tons of new friends whom you think will be your fam for the rest your life.
Most of all, you experienced the love of God, and it has either kickstarted or renewed you in your faith journey. Some of us may have even had leadership or service roles in said conferences; in this regard, you may have spent hours and hours preparing for the next session, perhaps even sacrificing sleep and food and breathing. The after-conference activities may have also been a blast. Maybe you stuck around in the city that the conference was in and crashed at friend’s or even stranger’s houses. You explored sights with your new friends and made promises to see each other at the next conference. Life is amazing. The Lord is amazing. Everything is amazing… until the flight/drive/train/bus ride home.
Post conference blues are real. It’s what happens when you go from the combination of the high-powered schedule of a conference, the strong sense of community, the constant inspiration and of course, the love of Jesus to an environment that is starkly different – real life. The difference in the two environments can cause a very real and many times a very real slump. And this slump varies for each person. Some get hit hard with the cold, sobering reality of normal life, while some experience a slow coming-down. Whatever the experience is, I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. Through the conference you experienced something much greater than the conference – with all it’s energy, emotion and camaraderie. At the heart of every conference is the central message that every conference tries to convey:
If you remember this message not only will you beat this post conference slump, you will endure till the very end.
You might be saying to yourself, “This is great and all, but can I do practically?”. Thank the Lord there are some tried and tested techniques from many generations before you that we will now share below:
Inspiration comes often from recalling the things that inspired you. So if it is possible to get any of the materials that you heard during the conference get a hold of it. Oftentimes, speakers that spoke have their outlines available digitally, all you have to do is ask them. If you journaled during the conference, even better. For the time being, you could even try to incorporate this type of recollection into your daily prayer.
A regular routine or discipline is one of the strongest tools you have against the blues. The good thing about conferences is that they usually happen during school break. If you are one of those that are working, then the routine takes care of itself because of your job. However, for the students out there here are some ideas:
I am sure that this was emphasized at some point during the conference. Daily prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with the Lord. Just like you can’t have a relationship with a man/woman without communication, likewise, you can’t maintain intimacy with Jesus without daily prayer. If you are not used to praying daily, start out slowly – 5 to 10 minutes for the first week, then add another few minutes each additional week. Try to work up to 30-45 minutes a day.
If you want to really take it to another level, I recommend going to daily Mass if you can. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian lives (CCC 1324), and if you make Mass the center of your day, I promise that your spiritual life will grow beyond your own comprehension.
Other good practices of prayer are Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Lectio Divina, and countless other prayer practices that the Catholic Church has in it’s arsenal.
Remember, the key to prayer is not feeling or emotion, it’s faithfulness. Do it and do it every day.
No man is an island. Reach out when you are feeling low. Start with those closest to you – parents, siblings, relatives. If they are close to the Lord, then consider them your biggest blessing in your journey, because they will essentially be with you until the end.
Next, reach out to your friends in your community/Church. These are your brothers and sisters in the faith and they can inspire, correct and commune with you. The great thing about these brothers and sisters is that distance doesn’t limit your communication. There are numerable ways to get in contact with each other. I’ve even seen worship sessions and prayer meetings happen through videoconference.
I hear this one often in communities. Oftentimes a young person will go to another country to a conference and have a powerful experience. Perhaps in that country, they will encounter other communities that seem to have everything they are looking for: vibrant prayer and worship, inspiring leaders, close friendship, etc. It’s everything they’ve dreamed of for their walk with the Lord. And when they return home and are faced with the “normal” and “stagnation” of their own communities, they get depressed and say stuff like, “I just don’t find any inspiration anymore in my community.”
Wake up brothers and sisters. No community is perfect. Even the Catholic Church in all it’s glory and beauty has damaged and sinful members. If you want inspiration and you can’t find it in your community, then maybe this is your calling to be that inspiration.
Do you want vibrant worship and prayer? Then make it happen! All it takes is 2 or 3 of you.
Do you want inspiring leaders? Then work on yourself to become that type of leader.
Do you want close friendships? Then work on your friendships and be the best friend you can be all those in your community.
Do you want freedom, faith and friendship in the Lord? Then be those things.
The biggest obstacle to joy is sin. Sin and vice in any form will basically kill joy. You can’t make room for two things in your heart; you will either love one and hate the other. If you are struggling with sin in any way (a sinful relationship, sinful vices or addictions, or sin in any form), I invite you to turn away and run to the Lord. Ask for forgiveness and go to confession (and in some cases seek counseling), and here’s the important part: fill your life with what is true, good and beauty. Read more inspiring books; listen to inspiring and beautiful music; surround yourself with people who call you to be better versions of yourself.
Sin, especially habitual sin, cannot be easily removed from one’s life unless something takes it place. So when you repent and take that bad thing out of your life, replace it with something good, beautiful and true.
Conferences are a great and beautiful thing. I see them as the pit stops on the road to Heaven. They are not Heaven in and of itself, but they do give us glimpses of the joy, celebration, beauty and even humour that we will experience when we see God face to face. I think it’s important to keep in mind that that this faith journey is not a weekend, month or even a year; but it’s a lifetime. It’s ok to experience the post conference blues. That’s part of the hardship of this life. The important thing is that we don’t give up and we keep moving forward in our faith.
I’d love to hear your comments/suggestions below on how you all deal with this topic.