In this article, Voice leader Abbi reflects on our Tuned In Retreats and Mental Wellbeing Day.
Over the past academic year, Voice have had the pleasure of running two Tuned In Retreat Days. These have come from a place of digging deeper in faith throughout the past year and through lockdown. I have personally found different ways of relating to God in my own walk with Him that I have wanted to share with the young people. In addition, a lot of the young people know what they should be doing to honour God, but don’t necessarily know why we do these things or act a certain way as Christians. The aim of these discipleship days was to open a space where they could discuss these things and learn more about them together.
The first retreat day took place on the 21st November as we explored what discipleship is, how we honour God, how we discern what his will is through reading His word and what it means to worship. Each session weaved through the concept of authentic freedom, focussing on how we have been freed to glorify and worship God and we do that out of the thankfulness of our hearts.
The second retreat day took place on the 24th April, and was focussed around being in God’s presence and dedicating time to spend with God. The sessions included activities such as worship through writing our own Psalms, worship through song, confession of sin and asking for forgiveness. We then spent an hour just being in God’s presence and discussed what we felt God was saying (or not saying!) and how we experience spending time with God in the quiet.
Voice also hosted a Mental Wellbeing Day on the 7th February. The world is rife with mental health challenges, and it is important to address them from a Christian perspective alongside the increasing awareness in school and other settings. Each part of the day was focussed on how God and His Word are powerful, but that doesn’t stop us from using resources around us. When we are not well, we need to ask God for His provision, trusting that He is able to heal but ready to trust His judgement because he sees the bigger picture. His power is made perfect in weakness. Every thought and experience needs to be seen in the light of God’s Word – both in His promises and in guidelines for living that promote mental wellbeing (e.g. forgiveness, giving of ourselves, looking after the world around us).
We had a look at Philippians 4 and taught the young people to use different techniques used by counsellors, such as grounding exercises, thought record sheets, responsibility pie charts, behavioural experiments, and journaling. These are often effective because they are practical ways of living out principles that God set in motion when he created the world, such as focussing on truth, being self-compassionate, taking captive every thought and relying on God’s grace. These exercises were supplemented by powerful testimonies given by some of our Voice team members, showing both God’s ability to heal and his ability to sustain us whilst we don’t see the reasons that he doesn’t ‘fix’ troubling circumstances.
A huge thank you to everyone who took part and helped to lead these days. They were incredibly helpful and encouraging as we seek to live our lives with and for God.