Monday, October 17, 2011

Joy Ride - Women's Retreat 2011

This past Friday night/Saturday was our church's women's retreat. It was a wonderful time of insight and refreshment for me. I'd like to share some of them with you.

The theme of the weekend was Joy. During one session we had to share a joy stealer with the other women at our table. I told the story of the Breakup (Quick synopsis: I felt that God wanted me to break up with my boyfriend. I did not want to do it, especially since I thought he was the person I was supposed to marry. I struggled with the decision but was ultimately obedient to God's desire.) and was reminded of it's purpose. God was asking me if I loved him more than anything else - more than my relationships, more than my plans, more than my hopes and desires. Did I trust that his plan was better than mine - was best? Did I trust him with my heart's desires? Choosing obedience meant that I was going all in with God. I was laying down what I thought was my future for whatever God had in store. There was no safety net. During that time of heartache, what kept me going was this thought: Adam is an amazing guy. If we are not supposed to be together, then I am trusting that God has someone even more incredible in store for me as a husband. And I learned that yes, I can trust God with my desires and my future. He came through for me in that situation. Why not trust that he will come through again?

During the retreat I also realized that my personal insecurities and self-consciousness (and desire for approval and acceptance from others) was hindering me from being completely free in loving, following and serving God. I love music and I love singing - especially praises and worship to God. But I don't think I have a good singing voice - mainly because I have a deep voice for a woman. I have long been intimidated singing with others because I fear that I sound bad. And I know that we are to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, but no one wants to be off key, especially with all of the beautiful singers around us.

God had started to help me in this area by making me a mother and giving me a daughter who loves songs. Singing alone to her has given me some confidence. I will even sing at music time with other moms and around my husband (a huge deal). This weekend we had large chunks of song time and I felt God encouraging me to sing to him and forget about everyone else. I sang louder/stronger than I ever have in such a setting (though I can't tell you how loud I actually was). I didn't feel one hundred percent comfortable but I wanted to worship God without holding back out of fear. I think I will still be somewhat self-conscious int his area for a while but I feel that major progress has been made. Maybe one day I will be able to dance and sing with abandon like King David. I wonder if singing lessons would help or just be another stressful experience? (I think I secretly fear that it would be confirmed that I'm hopeless as a singer - an obvious lie from our enemy.)

I also had a wonderful time of meeting with God in prayer and Bible reading out on a dock by the lake. The view was beautiful. I spent time admitting my weaknesses and failures, praising and thanking God, and inviting him to work in and through me. I had really been wanting to be reminded of God's love for me. He blessed me threefold! First, he did something with his creation that he knows I love. Second, he spoke to me through Song of Songs 2:10 (My beloved spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me."). When we were handed that verse and I read it, tears spring up in my eyes. I so needed to be reminded that God calls me beautiful and pursues me.

Later that evening, God did a third thing that reminded me of his love and intimate knowledge of me which blew my mind. We had a time of communion followed by the opportunity to be prayed over and consecrate ourselves anew to God. I LOVE being prayed for - it is so encouraging. While I was standing in line I pondered who I hoped would pray for me (there were three women praying). At first I hoped it would be the one who knew me best because, I figured, she would know what to pray for me. I thought some more and then hoped it would be someone who didn't know me well because it would be exciting to hear that prayer. It ended up being a women I don't know very well. She prayed for self-confidence for me. I thought, "Whaaaa...?! How did she know what I needed?!" Then it hit me. DUH!! God told her. He knows me intimately and reminded me of that by speaking straight to my heart through her. There was nothing to do but admit how small I think God is sometimes. Of course he can (and will) meet my deepest needs! He formed me in my mother's womb. He planned the time and place I would be born and live. I am his. Why wouldn't he love and care for me? And this reminder/realization could (and did) yield only one response - repentance for my lack of belief and trust coupled with adoration and praise for how amazing and loving God is. And once again, it was confirmed that I can trust God with my heart and my future. God is so good! Praise him!