This weekend I was gifted with the opportunity to attend our church’s ladies’ retreat. It was a 24-hour getaway to a beautiful lakeside camp. There was ample opportunity for long conversations with lovely friends, yummy food we didn’t have to prepare or clean up, excellent teaching from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and her ministry, and pleasant games to support the themes we covered. Before I left for the retreat my husband asked me what I hoped to glean from this retreat and encouraged me to attend with an expectant heart. I am glad he drew my attention to that because I otherwise would not have considered it in the flurry of preparation to leave.
As soon as I arrived I felt peaceful and excited. I could sense the same emotions in each lady as we smiled and laughed and greeted one another. It was the first time I had ever been to an event like this and I was touched by the camaraderie of sisters in Christ who were eager to pause, be still and recharge so that we could return to our daily callings with renewed spirits. Everything about this weekend was special and will be treasured in my heart, but here are 3 of my favorites:
*The beauty that is ours~ God designed women for beauty. We are drawn to it, embrace it, design it. We want to be beautiful and that desire should encourage us to seek out His definition of beauty. In Titus 2 the virtues of true beauty are listed; the woman who bears these qualities in her life is beautiful in God’s sight. Women are especially vulnerable to the comparison game and we often fall victim to the thought that if we are not exactly like “her” then we are less than “her.” The truth is that we are all given a unique life to live except in the virtues of beauty that should describe a woman of God. In this we all share the same calling and should encourage one another in our pursuit of them.
*The solidarity that is ours~ We are not alone in our loneliness. I think that women are also vulnerable to feelings of loneliness and isolation. We pour ourselves out night and day for others and frequently feel that we are alone in our struggles to live well. We feel alone in our search for balance, our efforts to remain positive and our fight to keep going despite the fatigue. But over this weekend I was reminded that we are very much NOT alone; we are all right there together. I have never before encountered such authenticity and heart-wrenching vulnerability as my sisters in Christ and I opened up about our struggles to live in a God-glorifying way. I was comforted to know that my struggles were theirs and theirs were mine and God sees all.
*The enabling is ours~ In the midst of the sharing of weaknesses was a vibrant hope because we recognized that everything we need to be the women God has called us to be is within reach. We don’t have to be victims to our emotions or our very bad days. Fatigue does not need to dictate how we respond to our loved ones; busyness does not have to steal our joy. Depression does not have to conquer. God equips and enables so that we can live victoriously for Him.
I left the retreat with a desire to linger more each day. I determined to change my approach to each day from what I need to do to how I am going to do it. The virtues in Titus 2 are not Sunday accessories; they should adorn my heart night and day of every single day. When they do, I am a lifegiver to those who cross my path.
Have you read Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s Adorned?