Extreme Makeover: Heart Edition was the theme of our women's retreat this year, and that's just what it was for me - a heart makeover.
I have so much to process from this weekend, that I can't even really put it into words that well yet. This was my second women's retreat and I came into it with absolutely no expectations this year.
Last year I had built up The Retreat as if it was going to be some sort of spiritual awakening or transformation - a mountain-top experience you might say. But between my completely unrealistic expectations, poor attitude, and my unwillingness to step out of my comfort-zone, I was left tired, disappointed, and discouraged.
This year I approached things entirely different and that has made all the difference. Here are a few of the things that I learned:
1. Let Go
Last year I was in the driver's seat controlling every aspect of my "experience". I chose one of my roommates beforehand, tried to force relational connections, and already had a plan in mind for how I was going to spend my time at the retreat. Needless to say, I was ignoring the promptings of the Holy Spirit and I fell flat on my face.
2. Get Comfortable with the Unknown
This year my attempts at making roommate plans didn't pan out. But, I was ok with that. I approached it with the attitude of trust in God's greater plan and looked forward to connecting with whoever I ended up with.
3. Leave Your Complaints at Home
There will always be things you don't like. I think last year I had a spirit of complaining instead of an open heart. I picked at the things I didn't like and focused on the negatives instead of the positives. This year when I heard the first inkling of a complaint coming out of my mouth I quickly prayed for a cheerful heart.
4. Don't Make Excuses
I used my shyness as an excuse not to open up and connect. I blamed the setup of the connection time instead of the true problem - my unwillingness to make myself vulnerable to others. Fear of rejection and a superior attitude stopped me from making what might have been amazing friendships. Again, my controlling spirit had already "picked out" the handful of new friends I wanted to make and brushed the rest aside. In the end, I connected with no one. Ouch!
5. Cherish Others
Each woman at the retreat is a wonderfully made child of God. All of us have beauty and amazing gifts to share with each other and we should treat each other with that in mind. I cherished each conversation and connection I was able to make throughout the retreat and was richly blessed with the hearts of each woman I spent time with. Regardless of our season of life, age, or backgrounds we all have love to share with one another and a deep connection as sisters in Christ. We can also learn from one another as we each bring our different perspectives to the table.
6. Get Rid of Your Insecurities
Insecurity is really just a preoccupation of self. We are self-absorbed! Once we take our minds of ourselves and place them on Christ and others, thoughts like "I hope they like me" aren't an issue. It doesn't matter if they like me or not - I will still show Christ's love to them. I will still be warm and friendly, encouraging and supportive. It doesn't matter what I'm wearing or what I know/do/am. Trust me, no one is thinking about you!! One imperfection and we think the whole world notices, but they don't. And when we can let go of that, we can be free to open up to others.
I can't wait to write more on this amazing retreat and everything I learned - this is really just the tip of the iceburg!!!
But in the meantime, if you've been on a retreat - what were some of your experiences (good and bad) or Ah-ha! moments?