What Happens at Estrofest…

There’s just something that happens during Lighthouse retreats that cannot be duplicated in any other event that we put on. I’m not sure if it can be attributed to sheer joy at being off campus and NOT eating sub food, or perhaps to the fact that when a large group of us spend more than two hours in close proximity together, the atmosphere changes, or what it is, exactly. But whatever the cause, it is undeniably powerful.

Last October, I raved about fall retreat (it having been my first Lighthouse retreat) and how great it was to spend time getting to know our members, new and returning, and how much fun we all had together, sharing our stories and playing absolutely ridiculous games. However, I was not quite sure how Estrofest would play out. I mean, it sounds like a recipe for a slasher film—17 college-age girls in a cabin in a forest? Whose bright idea was that? On top of that, there was no Cody to take charge of our topic of conversation (or to do obnoxious things to rile all of us up). I had no idea what to expect.

While the cabin was generally quieter than it had been during fall retreat, as it turned out, the absence of male exuberance created a completely different atmosphere that fostered a sense of unity and mutual understanding within our group. In hindsight, I can see that I totally underestimated the value of having separate male and female retreats—there are just some things girls cannot talk about around boys, and I’m sure the opposite is true for guys. As a result, difficult conversations were made safe to share, hidden stories were brought to light and confessions, both heartbreaking and heartwarming, drew us all together. By the end of that second night, I found myself (literally) surrounded by love, completely enveloped in the arms of some of the strongest, bravest, and most caring women I have ever met. And we won’t mention the fact that there were feet in my face or that the heat from so many bodies was overwhelmingly stifling. If that’s what love is, I’ll take it.

In light of what went on this weekend, I decided to make a slight adjustment in my plans for Lent. Rather than simply giving something up in respect to Jesus’ sacrifice, I resolved to add something into my life. Last week, I made the choice to drop a class because it was causing me a significant amount of stress, which freed up four hours of my weekly schedule. I plan to dedicate those four hours to spending time with others, as opposed to my usual tendency to spend them alone. Whether it be in the form of taking time during the week to sit down to coffee with a friend, making fun plans for a Friday night, or simply being there for someone who needs a shoulder to lean on, this is my goal. And now I have the courage to do it, knowing that there are people who support me, love me for who I am, and truly want to hang out with me.

I walked away from this experience feeling on top of the world, knowing that so many people cared about me, even people who I’ve barely even known for a week. It was singlehandedly the most powerful experience I’ve had at Lighthouse so far.

Many, many thanks to Louisa for organizing this trip, as well to all the ladies who took the time out of their busy schedules to be with us. Estrofest 2013 will live on in our hearts!

If you’d like to talk to Brittany about this or anything else, you can join her for her next cafe hour next Monday (2/25) in Diversions from 1-2pm.