A few years ago, I went on seven retreats every year. I prepared for weeks – buying supplies, designating small groups, collecting permission slips, writing talks, and forming student leaders. I was a campus minister. I loaded up buses full of suitcases, storage bins packed with supplies, and about 40 souls. I was privileged to help give the gift of retreat to teenage girls.
Once we pulled up to the retreat center in the serene mountains, the honor of watching God work through retreat began. I witnessed Him work in the lives of women when they were able to press pause in their everyday lives.
It was because they chose to attend retreat that these girls got to stop and simply be. It was in this time that they got to experience the love of Christ in new ways, hear His call in their hearts, and recognize the ways He was moving that they were often too busy to see.
No homework. No to-do lists. No responsibilities – only the opportunity to exist, listen, pray, and grow. What a gift, and a priceless one – time to be with the Father in the quiet, in the stillness, and in peace.
The girls received the opportunity for retreat as part of their school curriculum, and I received the same gift when I was in high school. It was very simple to go – have mom sign the permission slip and write the check and turn it in.
As I have walked into adulthood, I have come to know that the gift of retreat will never again be given to me – I must choose to give the gift of retreat to myself. I must choose to take the time, to sacrifice the finances, to take care of my own heart. Retreat must become part of the curriculum of my life.
It is an opportunity that does not come often, but when it does, the possibility and importance of it holds much power. The power that comes in having time for reflection and growth is often monumental in our walk with Christ. This is time that shows us new life paths – it is time that makes way for deep healing – it is time that God desires us to just be, and to be with Him.
Retreat. Is it a gift you are willing to give yourself?
Emily Wilson planned her whole life to become a sports reporter but turned out to be a Catholic musician and speaker at the hand of God. She lives out of her suitcase and travels across the world speaking to people of all ages. The heart of her ministry is offering encouragement to teen girls in search of their true identity, and she loves ever second of it. You can find out more about her here.