How to Approach the Fear of Being Changed By a Retreat

A major concern given by those considering a retreat is the fear of being changed by God while on retreat.

This is a legitimate concern, particularly if you have never made a retreat before.

You hear about the experiences that people have on retreat, and sometimes they are dramatic.

Perhaps a friend came back from a retreat as a changed person, and maybe they realized a calling that took them in a different direction than you would have expected for them.

What if you feel a call to make a dramatic life decision during your retreat? Join the priesthood? Quit your job to do mission work on the other side of the world? Move your family across the country to take up a different job?

In some sense, the only advice that can be given here is to trust. Trust that God will move you in the direction that He wants for you.

It may be dramatic, but in many cases it is not. Some people experience a call to join the religious life or to do mission work, but many are simply moved to live a life of deeper prayer.

You may be called to something dramatic, but consider this:

A calling takes time for discernment. The retreat may kick-start the process, since you will be spending a lot of time in quiet prayer, but after the retreat it may take months or years of prayer to move fully in the direction of the dramatic change you are being called to.

For example, feeling a deep conviction that you are called to be a priest? You can call the local vocations director the day after you arrive home from retreat, but for the next several years you will be going through seminary formation and discerning the Call in a focused way.

The dramatic change often requires many “baby steps” that make it feel more gradual.

Also, consider the feeling of not responding to God’s call in your life, whatever that may be.

If you ignore the call and refuse to change, you are likely to still feel that pull from God regularly. It will still be there.

If this pull already exists in your life, a retreat is a great chance to really focus you prayer and discern where that pull is coming from and how God wants you to approach it.

Whatever your calling, and however God may move you on retreat, know that following His will is only going to draw you closer to Him and His peace.

It is not always easy. In fact, it usually isn’t. Following God’s will often takes us out of our comfort zones and presents us with struggles, but it is most certainly worth it.

Do not let this fear hold you back from making a retreat. Commit to a retreat, and in the time leading up to it ask God to move in your life and change you to be more open to His calling.

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