The first time I went to the Changed Women's Retreat, it was a spontaneous decision. Even though I’d been invited multiple times, I was never intentional to mark it on my calendar or register in advance. I never made plans to go because I didn’t want to get there and not know anyone. I didn’t want to be alone. So when my neighbor invited me, I said yes and registered—the day before the retreat!
When I got to retreat, there were actually several women there who I knew from all different parts of my life! And as different women stood on stage and spoke, I was surprised that I related to all of them in one way or another. One of the women was from Las Vegas, and that’s where I graduated from high school! Another woman talked about her childhood and growing up in a drug home that constantly smelled like marijuana. My mother was in an abusive relationship for 13 years, and my house often smelled like marijuana. I thought no one would understand that, but there she was, telling almost my same story.
God whispered to me in my quiet time that I was not alone. He reminded me that not only do I have Him, but I have all these women around me who really love and care for me. That’s something I had struggled with my whole life. I always believed I was alone and worthless. Because of the retreat, I no longer believe those things are true.
I went back for a second retreat to take three new people with me. I went, thinking I wouldn’t get much more out of it. But I was wrong.
Coming from an abusive home, I realized I wasn’t introverted as much as I was hiding. For most of my life, I wasn’t able to be myself. I was always worried about what people would think, worried about if I was going to be in trouble when I got home.
Sometimes it was necessary to be unseen in
my house, so I learned to hide who I was.
After my second retreat, I felt more freedom to just be me. I often think of Galatians 1:10 that says, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” It can be hard to detach from all the stuff that tries to hold onto you. Chains aren’t easily broken. I used to suffer from so much anxiety, but now I realize a lot of what used to bother me isn’t what really matters. I’m free to be me. God doesn’t want me to hide.
I still sit in quiet with God on a daily basis to see what He has to tell me. He is moving me in the direction He wants me to go. And now I know, you can never learn too much. You can never get too much Jesus. I don’t plan to miss any future retreats, and I hope I see you at the next one!