This weekend I attended our church’s yearly women’s retreat. I didn’t want to go at first. For one, we couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want to admit it, knowing that I’d probably be offered a scholarship. My family has been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity lately and I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for more. Of course I didn’t admit this when friends asked if I planned to go. I used the non-stop chaos that my family has experienced lately as an excuse. With some I said that I didn’t feel right about running off for a fun weekend when life seemed so out of control. With others I came up with an elaborate speech about how emotional retreats are—that “I don’t have the energy to cry my way through a weekend right now.” When I found out that some abdominal pain that I’d been having would actually require surgery, I had another convenient reason to say, “I need to skip it this year.”
The closer that we got to the retreat the more unsettled I felt. Suddenly I felt gypped and left out.
What’s the deal? I have good reasons to skip it.
Out of nowhere I got the nagging sense that I would regret staying home. The more I tried to argue with the thought, the more I started to wonder what I might be missing out on. That’s when the truth came out. As true as all the above reasons for staying home were, they weren’t the true honest reason. The truth? I was afraid to go.
Not too long ago I had to come to grips with the fact that I have a lot of insecurities that I’ve always worked hard to cover up but am no longer so good at hiding. For some reason these hang-ups come oozing out when I’m surrounded by other women, particularly women that are slowly getting to know the real me. Retreats are the worst because I have an entire weekend to get things stirred up. This time around I didn’t want to deal with my fearful, needy, easily hurt self. I didn’t want to risk requesting a roommate only to be told that she already had one. With all the stress at home I knew that it was very likely that something would open the floodgates and I’d end up crying in front of everyone (I’d stayed strong through a lot and had been feeling a meltdown coming on for weeks). Then there were the more practical fears: What if none of my friends invited me to join them for an activity during the free time on Saturday? What if I got a roommate that I didn’t click with? On top of that I’d been fighting an inner batter regarding a relationship that I thought I’d messed up. What if I did something to make it worse?
To most of my “what if” questions something inside me replied “What if that doesn’t happen? What if you just have a really good time?”
When it came to the fears about activities and not clicking with roommate I heard a much-deserved “Oh, get a grip! When has that ever happened?”
And as far the relationship issue, I began to wonderful if God might use the weekend to bring some closure.
But in order to find out I need to go.
“Okay God,” I finally said. “Show me what you want and I’ll do it.”
The next day I was asked to sing with the worship team! The friend who was leading didn’t know that I hadn’t signed up. I dropped my pride and asked about scholarships and had a full one within 24 hours. I’d expected a partial at best.
So obviously God wanted me to go. While I was on a “what do you want, God?” roll I decided to let Him choose my roommate instead of requesting anyone specific. I prayed about all my fears of being left out, relationships that I felt uneasy about, and the possibility of falling apart. I asked a couple of friends to pray for me. Instead of going with my heart in knocks I went with a peace that God sent me to the retreat for a reason, that He truly wanted me there.
Did I have moments of insecurity? Yes! But I survived each one, even the moment that left me feeling like a complete dork who should go back to keeping her thoughts and feeling to herself. Actually, that particular experience ended up teaching me something—that I really need to stop being so mean to myself. In the process I found out that wasn’t the only insecure one at the retreat.
Did I cry? Yes! First I got teary during a group sharing time then I fell apart with some friends an hour later. It so clearly needed to happen and I was grateful that it happened with people who loved me. Then I got to comfort someone else the next day.
I had a great time with my roommate, and no, I was not left out in the cold when free time came.
And looking back, God did bring some closure regarding the friendship that I thought I came close to sabotaging.
I can see endless reasons to thank God for not letting me out of the retreat. It reminded me, once again, of the importance of being completely honest with God and with myself when it comes to why I REALLY don’t want to do something.
Are you trying to get out of something? Do you sense God nudging you in the exact direction that you want to run screaming from? Take some time to be honest about why you want out. What are your fears? What are you running from? What might happen if you let Him sign you up? What would be worse; dodging a scaring situation or missing out on an opportunity to see Him do something amazing in you?
I dare you to go for it!
Please share if He brings something really cool out of it!