Stone to Flesh School of the Heart is the best thing that has ever happened to me in terms of helping my faith journey. In 2011 I invited God into my life, and I was already living in a plateau in my faith for some time. I did the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius five times because I knew I needed the accountability, but even then, it only helped me to a certain extent before again I began to plateau. In my spiritual journey I was always part of ministries at my church that were focused only on serving, but never concerned with serious spiritual growth or seeking more of God. These things became moments reserved for events such as congresses or retreats where I got a spiritual boost of encouragement to keep serving, to keep riding this plateau. When I first encountered God, I had such a thirst to share what I had found with the world. To change the way things were, I knew that the love that had touched my life could change the world and I had such a passion to do that. Slowly that dimmed because I couldn’t find others to share in this dream, and I came to a place in life where I gave up on this. I told myself to accept reality, that I couldn’t change anything, so I began to practice the acceptance of this.
When I applied to Stone to Flesh, I remember reading the invitation to the school on the web page that starts with:
This was like an awakening of hope, I felt like whatever this was, it's what is next in my life. I felt really like this was next, and that God has something in store for me here. I felt excited and waited in anticipation for this to start. Then Stone to Flesh started and even though it was meant to be a school, I got a little taste of community. And this is what really changed my life.
I used to dislike people, especially people I ministered with because I had no patience for them. My dislike of my team and lack of love for them, hurt me in the way I perceived people in ministry. I thought things like “I have to do this myself, no one understands” and it just isolated me in pride and lack of compassion. Subconsciously I was looking for healthy community, and I grew resentful because I wasn’t getting this from the people that claimed to be it - because they unknowingly searched for the same thing.
At Stone to Flesh I experienced a group of people that longed for more of God, that had hope that God did have more for us, that were interested in building each other up instead of letting envy break people down, that worshiped and called to the Father as if He were really a father. Through them I now understand what it means to be of one mind and one heart. I never knew how intensely and drastically prayer and life with a group of people like this could impact your spiritual journey. I now know that this is a necessity in spiritual growth, I cannot believe I went years without community, people desperately need this.
Experiencing this has helped me heal the wounds of unhealthy community, and I feel like these people have become my family. I think I understand now when Jesus said, "My brothers and sisters are here, they are those who do the will of my Father." My love for this group has overflowed to others who surround me. My capacity to love others has deepened.
A specific way this has happened, I can say was through the discovering of my ministerial gifts. I discovered that the ministerial gifts most apparent in me are those of a prophet and apostle. This was such a relief to to me because I used to think I was crazy, now I know there is a group of people with a similar call. Knowing there is an entire group of crazy people makes me feel normal. But more importantly knowing that that these gifts are in fact gifts. They have been so hard to understand, and at times I saw them as things that isolated me and made me feel like something was wrong with me and lead me to label myself as problematic.
I used to to be a legalistic prophet, more interested in pointing out what was wrong and not really concerned for the people these things affected because I was so task oriented. Now my heart hurts and even mourns for others when they can’t see their blindness or lukewarmness. Our ministry at our home parish went through a tough trial this past year. And I remember going through this and aching for those who were being affected, and I got the thought that my heart was bleeding for these people who I once could care less about. And then I remembered Stone to Flesh. This was the “Oh” moment of realization that God had fulfilled His promise in me.
Going back to the community and the way this has impacted me. Knowing now how important this aspect is in a person's spiritual growth, it makes so much sense that God would reveal to me my purpose now that I am part of a community. Along with my broken dreams and hopes of changing the world, God has revived in me the dream of serving Him with music. And this has lead me to begin a process of discernment. This is so significant because, again, thanks to Stone to Flesh, I now know what it really means to discern.
Where do I stand now after nine months with Stone to Flesh? I am broken. I feel so infinitely thankful to God for this new found love in this community and family. I am incredibly thankful to Iwona and Keith, in ways they will never know and I could never express in words, for the MajorChange, what their yes to God has made in my life. These past nine months, not only has Jesus become my lover, He has been a light. And because I have gotten closer to Him, His light has allowed me to see brokenness in me that I had never seen before. I am so broken, it’s so bad, but I feel joy and peace about it. I know the brokenness that has come to the light now has been revealed at this time for a reason. I know it’s God’s perfect timing.
Now that Stone to Flesh is over it’s tough. I miss you guys so much. But I know something else is coming, and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. My hope is in God, lover of my soul.
If you wan to experience similar journey, apply to Stone to Flesh school of the Heart 2018/19 NOW!