I leave in less than three hours for the church’s ladies’ retreat. Another weekend away. This should be my dream, right? Sort of. If you put aside the fact that I am the retreat co-ordinator, m.c., and worship leader, the weekend should be something to look forward to. Actually, even with all of those things thrown into the mix, it should be something to look forward to.

But what you need to realize is that when I go through a deep, personal experience (like I did last weekend in Alberta), I retreat into myself. I need some time and space to process the whole thing. I need a safe place to keep facing the stuff that I’ve been facing. And for me that safe place is someplace by myself.  (Otherwise I am prone to spontaneously bursting into tears and squeaking like Minnie Mouse.) So, this retreat weekend, while very much on my mind this week as I made my lists and checked off all the things that I needed to have prepared (all the while with a crashed desktop computer holding much of the work I’d prepared and subsequently lost), has not been something I’ve been looking forward to.

In fact, I’ve kind of been dreading it. Really dreading it. I had visions of me bursting into tears while leading the ladies in an old hymn or me just escaping to my room any time there was a non-group activity happening. Then this morning as I ran out to get the last couple things I needed for the weekend, I ran into a lady from the church at the Dollar Store. And I don’t know how it came up, but I told her about the stresses of the week (Marc having the kids alone and preaching and leading worship on Sunday and his guitar being the only instrument, a crazy week at the office, our computer crashing, getting the retreat stuff together, the continuing course stresses and uncertainty about where the next few months will take us, and two days ago Marc’s dad going into his first ever stint of respite care and not handling it very well, at least not the first of the fourteen days). At some point I just fessed up to the fact that I didn’t think I had it in me to be out there doing all of my “retreat duties”. And at some point in our lengthy conversation, with tears shed by both of us, I started to feel better.

There is something about vulnerability that makes me feel like a complete wreck and there’s something about it that makes me feel whole. Before I had that conversation I felt like there was absolutely no way I could give any more of myself in the leading of the retreat. I felt too soft, too vulnerable. Then I realized that we all feel like that. We are all afraid of the parts of ourselves that make us feel weak and confused and small. We want to hide and retreat into ourselves. But what does that do? It makes us feel even more weak, even more small, even more alone.

This weekend a bunch of women will be gathering who collectively have too many sorrows and insecurities and lost hopes to count. And this weekend a safe place will be made to face those things. And when we recognize that we are not alone in our fears and failings, when someone has the courage to admit that they’ve been there too, and when we can collectively turn to the God who is redeeming the mess of our lives, then we find the strength to face the living that needs to be done.

And to think. It all started at the Dollar Store.

Posted in Faith, Life & Faith, Ministry | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Retreating

  1. mam V. says:

    amen Dixie, remember you are not alone, it is good that you feel vulnerable, the lord can use you even better. Love you and will be praying for you that this weekend will be a real blessing for you and the ladies who attend the conference .

  2. Toni says:

    You’re doing good lass, and I pray you’ll have a weekend where you found that you haven’t had to be ‘the all sufficient one’ and it let you meet with God more.

  3. Jean says:

    Well, Dixie, I have to say, a retreat with a group of ladies is NOT my thing. That’s just me. Getting away by oneself, yeah, but, not with several ladies. Do you get what I mean? Not knocking a ladies retreat, but —–

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