I watched many sign-ups for the Changed Women's Retreat come and go. I'd tell myself I didn't have time for that. I have several young children and I didn't want to burden my husband with their care. But I was drowning in self-destructive thought patterns and a quiet, seemingly benign state of depression that was robbing me of joy and life. After a push from my husband and my counselor, I finally attended my first retreat.
When I was there, I realized that I had bought into the lies of "I am a burden" and "I am abandoned." But God showed me that even though I may have been too much for my broken, earthly mother to handle, "abandoned" is not who I am! I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and He carries the weight of my needs with no effort at all. In fact, He tells me to put my burdens on Him, and He delights in carrying them for me.
I learned that I had allowed my life's experiences to define me, and I needed to receive the identity that God has given to me.
I began healing from wounds that I didn't even realize I had carried. I thought I had put my past behind me, but through the Changed Women's Retreat, God revealed that I was living in bondage to past wounds. I needed to rip that bandage off to receive true healing. I was so busy doing my best to cope that I hadn't realized healing was even an option! Life is a joy, not just something you survive!
After retreat, I began to handle the circumstances of life differently. I started the long, painful process of forgiving those who had hurt me. Now I can love them in a way that is honoring to the Lord. And it's a blessing to see their hearts soften, little by little, as they begin to see that they have a Heavenly Father who uniquely loves them too.
I often think about Philippians 4:8 that says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." For any woman who is struggling to believe that verse, I want to encourage you. God has a joyful life for you! I no longer believe the lie that despair and negativity are just my personality type. I am free to live my life to the fullest, and I know that God wants that for you too. I urge you to make spending time with the Lord a priority in your life. And I believe the Changed Women's Retreat is the perfect place to do that.