Growing up, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Holy Spirit. To me, the Trinity consisted of God our Father, Jesus our Brother, and the Holy Spirit… our strange uncle or something like that. Frankly put, he confused me, made me feel uncomfortable, and I was okay not knowing much about him. While I understood what role the Holy Spirit had in the Trinity, I never really grasped his role in my life nor did I make an effort to.
My first real encounter with the Holy Spirit was when I was a freshman in high school going to my first Steubenville Conference. Upon arrival at the Franciscan University Campus, my cousin Amanda and I had our faces pressed up against the window exploring the great state of Ohio from our rental sprinter van. After a quick pan of the students accompanying us at the conference, Amanda exclaimed, “Wait… there are boys here?! I thought this was an all-girls thing.” Sharing in her excitement, I knew in that moment, it was going to be a good trip.
As a 14-year-old, I was too shy and socially awkward to talk to any of the boys on the trip. However, that was probably for the best because at Saturday adoration I was able to keep my eyes focused on Jesus in the monstrance - thus, allowing myself to encounter another gentleman for the first time.
The thing about the Holy Spirit is that he is kind of odd, and my original comparison to a strange uncle is not that far off. When he is in the room, you KNOW he is in the room. But rather than being weirded out by the creeper in the corner, you are in wonder and awe.
This conference was the first time I experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and let me tell you, he did not disappoint! Kids were resting in the spirit, speaking in tongues, crying, or even laughing. I was so confused. In every direction I looked there was some sort of weird phenomenon. I looked to my sister Kristin who seemed completely unfazed. In most situations where kids are dropping like flies, my first thought would be to call 911; however, there was some sort of peace that overcame me.
All of a sudden, a single tear rolled down my cheek. Huh? Was I now participating in this madness? The single drop quickly turned into a stream; however, there was no shame - like how I normally felt crying in public. I felt truly seen by God, and I do not doubt in my mind it was because I got to experience who he was in his entirety – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit unlocked something in me that night. He showed me I could be vulnerable and that my relationship with God was not complete without him.
The Holy Spirit showed 14-year-old Maggie she was not alone because God was truly present in her life. He used his incredible gifts to show God’s greatness and real presence in a tangible way that I could not deny.
After the completion of adoration, Kristin gave our small group and me the Holy Spirit 101 talk. While the information could have been useful a few hours before the most chaotic adoration I have ever been to, the experience would not be as impactful if I was anticipating it. After all, boys are a lot more exciting if you’re not expecting them to be there.
Your sister in Christ,