This February I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Winter Retreat at Little Galilee Christian Camp in Clinton, Illinois with the Campus Students for Christ. This retreat focused on building lasting relationships with boyfriends/girlfriends and spouses that reflected the Lord. Randy Gariss, a seasoned minister and marriage counselor, was the primary speaker at this event, and his wise words will forever remain with me and my boyfriend, Jason, who also attended the retreat.
Gariss specifically focused on challenging us, as Christians both in and out of relationships, to possess “wholeness”. According to Gariss, living a life of “wholeness” is a life in which you are content and comfortable in your own skin, a life in which you possess emotional maturity, and a life in which you live by strong and sound morals. These three elements, woven together, can help you become a mature adult who can maintain a strong and healthy relationship with a spouse or future spouse. Furthermore, living a life of “wholeness” means living a life in which you put God first in your life and constantly focus on building a relationship with him. God should be at the center of your heart, and the heart of your relationship.
In addition to couples, Gariss geared his talk toward singles as well. “If you aren’t happy and content as a single person, you won’t be happy and content in a relationship”, he said. I fully agreed with this statement. Gariss told us that you must have a good relationship with yourself before you can have a good relationship with another person. Your personal problems can quickly become relationship problems, and in order to have successful relationships, you must first have a successful relationship with yourself. He encouraged us to understand ourselves first and focus on developing ourselves into the people we want to be. This, however, does not mean that one cannot enter a relationship with problems. Couples are meant to support one another and share burdens together, but, as Gariss said, “Personal issues can destroy marriages.” Before you enter a relationship, and while you are in a relationship, he recommended that you should “pursue being healed by the Lord.” Overall, Gariss’ message rang loud and clear to all who listened. God can strengthen relationships and heal broken relationships, but couples must dedicate themselves to “wholeness”– living a personal life and a relationship that reflects the Lord. I absolutely loved this retreat, and I felt that every CSC student, and all the students who attended from other colleges, were touched by Gariss’ messages.
Though this retreat included some serious messages, it was also lighthearted. The atmosphere was very energized and upbeat, and the organizers of the retreat had an ongoing “assassins” game in which players had to secretly pin paper clips on one another to get each other “out”. This lightened the mood and gave people a chance to socialize. Those who attended the retreat also had the chance to walk around the beautiful campsite, and enjoy the rustic lodges that we were able to stay in. It was a great time of bonding and learning about God’s plan for our lives!