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Great Memories of Focus 2016

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Editor’s Note: Focus is our annual student retreat weekend that happens each February. Students are divided into four groups: middle school boys and girls and high school boys and girls. This summer, Providence Students is going to Student Life Camp, where they’ll spend time studying the Bible and fun together. Your 6th-12th grader won’t want to miss this! Sign up here.

The purpose of Focus 2016 was to take a weekend (Friday night through Sunday morning) away from distractions and dive into fellowship with our youth group and with God. This purpose was fulfilled in many ways, starting with the amazing time I had with my friends. This year we had a lot of time to grow closer to each other and really begin to know one another as not only friends but as siblings in Christ.

One of my favorite memories from this year’s Focus is the lip sync battle we had on Saturday! Through making up dances and even pretending to be different singers, I learned so much about my friends as well as their unique strengths. One friend became Taylor Swift, while her sister redefined Wicked’s song Defying Gravity. It was amazing to see those two sisters bring those songs to life. But I especially loved the sense of fellowship and the overall atmosphere of the activity.

My second favorite memory happened in two parts on the last night of Focus. The first part occurred during a high school girls’ lesson in which we wrote each other encouraging notes. After reading the sweet things that everyone wrote, we all realized that even though we may not know it, the people around us see certain things in us that we may not see in ourselves. At that moment, we became not only friends but also true sisters. The second part came later that night after we were all so tired we went crazy, filling the night with giggles and laughter.

But the time that impacted me the most was on the first night during a race called Focus Frenzy. After a game got too competitive, we had a long talk about respect and the true meaning of Focus. We were all disappointed and some of us were even angry, but in the midst of that we learned a valuable lesson, and it brought our group closer together.

The topic for the weekend had a lot to do with learning how to read our Bibles and pray. Our leaders taught us about what motivates us to read our Bibles, and I learned that it’s not enough to simply read the Bible; I have to desire God’s Word. One big thing I learned was that we have to see the beauty of the Bible to desire it more, and that God’s Word was not written to us, but it was written for us. We talked about how the Bible is not what saves us, but it points to the one who does. I had never looked at Scripture that way, nor had I been so challenged to truly study the Bible. Aside from the new things I was discovering about God’s Word, we also learned how to pray Scripture. This was an entirely new concept to me, and I was eager to try it. Though it was weird and foreign at first, it quickly became easier and my prayers became filled with more of the Bible and less of my selfish requests.

I also loved when we talked about the prophet Hosea and God’s amazing grace. Sometimes I am scared that if I am not always getting that “aha” moment, I am not truly reading the Scriptures. But the teachings at Focus taught me that not experiencing that every time I read the Bible is okay! And even if I forget to read my Bible sometimes, God bestows grace and will not hold my already-forgiven sin against me. If God has forgiven me, I will always be forgiven, no matter what anyone else thinks!

Overall Focus 2016 was an amazing experience, and I will hold on to those memories! I loved it and I will most definitely be participating again next year!