Now I'm in another country. I don't have my comfy young adult group anymore. There are young adults here, but they don't go on retreats. And yet it is so important to take time away. We all need to get away from the busy-ness of life and the routines and have some time to "be still and know He is God." I have tried to take moments when I can, but it usually isn't a true getaway. It's extended time on my (extremely comfy) couch.
So my "mom" here told me about an upcoming women's retreat. As I looked out at my life, I knew that about that time, I'd be in major need of a break, so I signed up. Now, I'll admit...women's retreats have never screamed "thrilling weekend away" to me. There's a part of me that says you had to be older...or at least have children...to attend those. I could't imagine what "fun" would be included. And I pictured a room full of women crying over things. I realize that's probably a stereotypical, snap judgment and I'm learning how to stop that, but I'm just being honest in that my decision to attend was not because it was a women's retreat. It was simply because it was a retreat and I wanted to get away.
On the positive, side, I will say that the closer I got to the retreat, the more I was excited about meeting some older women who I could possibly get to know and have pour their lives into me. It's one of the things I miss most over here. Back home, I had so many wise women who were walking closely with the Lord that would weekly pour into my life. That has been missing here. The retreat was one possible solution to that.
Two days ago, I headed to my first women's retreat. Here are my insights. (Note: These are not in order of importance or seriousness.)
- There are valid reasons for why boys should be invited to women's retreats. Ok, I realize the name of the retreat would have to change, but I hold to this fact for four reasons:
- Women pack a lot. There's always a "just in case" and so we bring a lot of stuff. Rarely do these conference centers have elevators. Boys would be very helpful in getting our overabundance of bags to our rooms.
- Meat. A retreat center would never think of serving a full day of vegetarian meals to boys. Just because we're girls doesn't mean we don't enjoy meat too. A salad is not a meal.
- Bonfire maintenance. The men who work at the retreat center so graciously started a bonfire for us...and then left. No offense to the couple girls I know who can start and maintain a good fire, but girls in general do not manage a bonfire well. As our fire started to die out, I watched a grown (sane) woman throw handmade, wooden chairs into the fire to get it started again. "They're broken. There's a whole pile of broken ones over there." Boys...we need you.
- Worship time. Ok...this one typically would not be on my "we need boys" list. We're girls. We sing pretty. Boys aren't essential UNLESS the worship team chooses to sing "You are Holy." I don't care how much you try to argue it, there aren't two parts. There is a boy part and a girl part. We all know the girl part. No one knows the boy part. Don't try to get us to learn the other part. Just choose from the 10,000 other great worship songs.
- As women, we don't need "get to know you games". We're conversationalists at heart. Stick us in a room and we'll talk.
- Some of the older women are the goofiest.
- When a woman says she's 49, I find myself thinking, "Wow...she's 49? She doesn't seem old enough to be 49. Or am I just getting older so it doesn't seem so old anymore?"
- When setting up small groups at a retreat, please don't put all of the young adults together. I understand you want us to feel comfortable, but the young adult circle is my normal circle. Let me learn from the older, wiser women.
- Women are wise! Just a short 48-hours with them and I can see glimpses of how their lives have been refined and strengthened in the Lord.
- There are morning people and there are night people. Do all women become morning people after they have children?
- Yes...there's crying. It's a good though.
- There's something really sweet about digging into the Word with all ages. We can all speak into each others lives whether encouraging, challenging, questioning, listening or praying.
- The simplest message is sometimes the one we need to hear most.
- Very often, it's not that we didn't know the Truth already, it's that we needed to hear it again and in a new way.
- Always bring your own pillow, pop, and towel.
- Two days is not long enough for a retreat.
- It is always good to set aside time to be with the Lord...even when it's hard.
found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and will bring you back from captivity.'"
- Jeremiah 29:13-14a