Retreats Aren’t For Wimps

If you know me at all, you might wonder why in the world would a die-hard introvert host her own women’s retreat?

Answer: Introverts need retreats, too. That, and God loves to nudge me out of my comfort zone!

Honestly, I just really love the idea of a retreat, especially since most retreats rely heavily on the promise of refreshing, restoring, renewing, and refocusing.

Re-words? Yes, please.

 

Retreat, restore, recover

What is a retreat?

 

One definition of retreat is “a period of retirement (another re- word) for religious exercises and meditation.”

But that meaning of a retreat is fairly recent. Originally the word retreat was a military term.

It comes from re- “back” + trahere “to draw” or call back.

It refers to either a forced or strategic withdrawal of an armed force before an enemy. I’ve experienced some forced withdrawals. I’d prefer not to go through that again, thank you very much.

We’ve all gotten beat up by the enemy and needed some time to lick our wounds, but you can’t stay in hiding forever. At some point you have to come out of your shell, and you need a strategy for what that will look like.

 

Retreat

 

Strategic Withdrawal

That’s the definition I prefer.

 

Maybe if we did more strategizing, we’d have less defeats Click To Tweet

 

The idea of linking arms with fellow soldiers, even in retreat… especially in retreat, compels me.

 

Because This. Is. War.

 

Everyone I know is bloodied and bruised and yet we never stop to treat the wounds. Never pause long enough to see the big picture; to look for where is God in the middle of the fray. To take the time to pray and form a strategy.

What if, rather than drip blood all over the carpet, we stepped back, withdrew (strategically) to retreat and refocus? To reassess. Granted, sometimes, we need to do this alone. Intentional solitude creates space for us to hear from the Lord.

 

We have to intentionally seek solitude in order to hear from the Lord

 

Intentional solitude creates space for us to hear from the Lord. Click To Tweet

 

But we also need times of retreat with others—yes, even this introvert needs that! I don’t know about you, but I long to make some new friends… some soldier friends; I want to hear their stories of the ground they’ve gained in battle and hold their hands while they describe their defeats.

I long for opportunities to pray for one another, to worship hand in hand, to walk through the wilderness together. Our faith muscles grow as we witness others rise up and we begin to believe in our hearts we can rise, too. And then, together we can celebrate our victories.

 

We need to retreat

 

We need to testify about what our God did for us when the bullets were whizzing by our heads and we were sure we were going to die.

We need to be reminded of great deliverances and build our faith that we will experience them again.

We need to know we belong, that we have a place in this mighty army of women who are fighting to thrive, not merely survive.

 

women arm in arm, facing the enemy together

 

I realize now, that although it’s a daunting task, and there’s lots of warfare involved, hosting a retreat is an honor and a privilege. And so, hats off to all of you who do this awesome work! To Andy Lee and Venus Shrader, who organize Beauty for Ashes Retreat, and who inspired me to launch my own, thank you.

 

 

 

Womens retreat

 

And to all who are called to organize and chair similar events, this is what’s been rolling around in my heart:

 

A prayer for retreat planners

 

* may we spend more time in prayer than we do on centerpieces

* may we ask God for takeaways that will lift our heavy hearts, not load up our suitcases with stuff we’ll throw away when we get home

* may we make room in the schedule not just for free time but also for “get free” time: time for prayer, solitude and healing

* may our events be multi-cultural and multi-generational

* may we remember to pray over those chairs and the women who will sit in them

* may we practice hospitality, asking the Father to show us how to love strangers

* may we sing songs that usher us into His presence so we can hear the song He’s singing over us

* may we pray fervently for the Lord to do His holy housekeeping; to wash away every sin, bandage every wound, sweep up all the ashes.

* may we remember to bring more water than we think we’ll need, an ample supply of chocolate and to locate the meeting room next to a bathroom

* may we send off our guests with a renewed vision for their lives

 

Are you willing to strategically withdraw in order to advance?

 

We need each other, we need a strategy, we need to hear from God

 

So, friends, next time you get that email announcing an upcoming women’s retreat, don’t delete it! Instead, remember:

  1. We need to hear from God
  2. We need each other
  3. We need a strategy

 

Don’t wait until the battle becomes so fierce you are forced to withdraw; make plans strategically to retreat. Your people need you refreshed, restored, renewed, and refocused.

 

Lord, would you open the doors for your daughters to retreat with you? You know their schedules, their budget restraints, the needs of their families. But you hear the cry of their hearts as well, to spend time with you. Show them how, show them where. And then meet them there. Make a way where there seems to be no way.

 

Reset Retreat is just one month away, October 4-6 at Lake Gaston, NC and I can’t wait! There are a few spots left, so if you are longing for a weekend of soul care, just click on Reset Retreat at the top right of this post. Or here: https://susanely.com/reset-retreat/

 

Reset Retreat at Lake Gaston, NC

 

 

 

 

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