I survived my first women's retreat.

You guys.

I not only survived my first women's retreat at church, but I came home feeling happy.

That may not seem like such a big deal, especially if you're involved with things like this on the regular. Over the past couple years, I have been slowly inching my way into these sort of events. I haven't wanted to. Women freak me out. I get easily intimidated and all my insecurities flush to the forefront. Not to mention all the feelings. I already have SO MANY, I don't like poking at all my wounds and bruises (says the woman who blogs about her infertility journey).

The main reason for going was the speakers. Joy and Julie (and their surprise prayer team that changed my life) - Joy of It - an organization I had been following on social media for a while. They love Jesus and people and I knew God would work through them. I was hopeful but wary - women's events are full of a lot of explanations over why I don't have kids yet...followed by all the things I need to do and try. It's exhausting and ridiculously hard to give grace when you already feel insecure. But this weekend was different. I went into it having my shame broken weeks before [saving that gem for another post], a theme of joy recurring through the week while preparing my heart, and a close friend who vowed to get me through the weekend.

And guys? My life was changed. Insert eye roll, I'm so cliche. It's true. Joy, Julie, Kerri, and Connie - they showed up, and more importantly, they invited Jesus in to move.. and He did. The teaching was on the Woman at the Well, my dearest friend in these stories. I can't wait to share with you what He has shown me and how He showed up, but I'm still processing. There was so much, so so much, and I'm still unfolding bits and pieces of what He revealed to me. I feel so vague, but my mind is jumbled. I am praying and reading and journaling, and I promise to share my heart soon.

One thing I realized is that I have been waiting to be used by God without recognizing that He's actually already doing some cool things. In my mind I've always believed that once I become a mama, I would have more purpose and stories. That's not true. I will have different stories, but the same purpose. My identity lies in who He is, not if I have children. I remind myself this when I'm feeling the ache of waiting, so why not remind myself this when I'm moving toward purpose? I don't have to sit on the sidelines and wait for my womb to be filled before I can go and teach about my sweet Jesus. Having children doesn't change the gospel. There is nothing stopping me from the next step but myself, and I refuse to be my own roadblock.

I also learned that you can eat a lot of snacks and come home having lost a pound because you sweat so much during your interpretive dance.

Yes. You read that right.

This sweet crew had us dress up (I'm not kidding) and do a skit - my table got the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man, and our song to act this out to was 'Happy' by Pharrell. One almost-concussed Carebear, a few big headed Pharisees, and a whole lot of anxiety, we got it done. None of this was inside my comfort zone but I refused to let myself over think and I just had fun with it. Looking back I still can't believe I didn't hyperventilate or throw up said snacks. I guess you really can surprise yourself when you jump (dance?) out of your comfort zone.

I made new bonds with women I barely knew, met a lot of women I had never even seen before, and deepened friendships I've been cultivating over the last year. One friend and I looked at each other and asked what we were supposed to do with this joy. It's weird to just...feel it, and not look around the corner to see when it will all come crashing down. The drive home was filled with processing and questions and a little gangster rap, the perfect wind down from the weekend.

I didn't cry these sobbing, healing tears. No major life traumas were solved. Wounds got touched and rebruised, and that's okay. My life was spoken over. Women who had never met me heard from Jesus and told me things that confirmed what my closest people tell me. My jaw dropped in shock and awe and wonder and delight. Jesus showed up and sat down at the table with 70 women, and I am so grateful I didn't talk myself out of going.

At the end of the weekend during the group recap, I told everyone that I didn't know what God was up to and what this all meant, but I say yes. Yes to whatever it is that God has. Yes to being a mover and a shaker and a teacher. Yes to rising up and doing something in community. If Jesus wanted to come hang out and tell me what that meant and give me some details, I'd be SUPER thankful. In true Jesus fashion, He's just giving snapshots of the path, and I'm doing my best not to miss them.

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