Reflection on the Men’s Retreat

By George Caruso

In the Pixar movie Inside Out, there is a scene where a camera crew uses a “reality distortion filter” to turn a stage production into a convincing dream. That scene resonates with me, as it reminds me of my own filter that often distorts my vision in life. Knowing this, I try to embrace opportunities to challenge and expand my perspective, but I wasn’t viewing the men’s retreat as such an opportunity. In fact, I felt exhausted and worn down by other challenges. I had work and family responsibilities hanging over my head, and I questioned if it was the best use of my time. Fortunately, I still went… and God gave me a new perspective.

The theme this year was “Faithfulness Through the Seasons”, and we heard testimonies from men in various stages of life. In addition to the organized talks, we experienced a range of activities together: worshiping, competing, laughing, sharing stories, playing sports, and praying. And this all happened with a cross-section of generations. I especially loved hearing zeal from the younger guys, and then seeing wisdom and faithfulness in the older men. It was a beautiful microcosm of brothers in community. If I had to pick a Scripture passage that summarized the retreat it would be Hebrews 12:1-2…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

My eyes were open to the “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds us at New Life. We have many faithful men who are “looking to Jesus”. Since I was originally distracted by personal struggles, this was both encouraging and motivating to see.

And truthfully, I didn’t feel physically rested after the retreat. I actually felt even more exhausted from staying up late, sleeping in dorms, and playing flag football (it was a humbling reminder that my body’s not college-age). But my soul was refreshed. Thanks to all who served to create an environment for fun and fellowship. My hope is that we continue to be a community that actively seeks to run the race together, with a shared gaze on Jesus.