Women’s Retreat Reflection: Coming Away to a Quiet Place
When I first heard about the Reset Women’s Retreat, I was immediately eager to sign up. A time to get away to scenic Doe River Gorge with other women and enjoy times of silence, worship, and fellowship sounded exactly like what my soul needed! As a busy mother of two preschool age daughters, silence is typically hard to come by… or even just time alone. Fitting in a “quiet time” with God into my daily routine has become increasingly difficult in this stage of life and my heart was longing for a spiritual “reset” and time of refreshing – so I signed up for the retreat.
However, as the retreat weekend approached, fears and worry began to creep into my thoughts… would my girls be okay without “mom” tucking them in? What would happen exactly at this retreat? There will be a lot of quiet – I’m kind of a talker… what if God asks me to do something crazy? Or even worse, what if he points out all the ways I’m failing Him and shows me sin in my life? Do I really want to face the “silence” and what that might hold? But my heart continued to long for the time away, even when my mind was resistant. I was also wrestling with some big family decisions and really wanted to use the time away to get some guidance and direction from God. So it was all settled – I would go on the retreat, spend some uninterrupted time with God, He would give me the specific answers and wisdom I needed, and that would be that. But that’s not exactly what happened (so glad His ways are better than mine!).
The retreat definitely proved to be a sweet and meaningful time of connection with other women, time alone with God in silence, multiple times of praise and worship, and refreshing rest- the perfect balance. My soul was fed by the wonderful speakers- Joan VanBeveren, Heather Yates, Mary Nees, and Cheryl Bowers – and my body was also nourished with delicious food (I have to confess that I was excited to have a break from meal planning and cooking for the weekend)! Even though the weather was dreary and rainy most of the time, it provided a cozy atmosphere of rest and reflection.
As Heather began to speak to our group before our first time of silence, she shared that God was inviting us to come away with Him during this time, and that the silence was not “punishment” but a time to receive from Him –that He was calling us to the silence to show His love and restore us. Tears streamed down my face. I knew in that moment that God was speaking straight to my heart and taking away all the fears and reservations that I had about truly being silent and alone with Him.
During our time of silence that afternoon, I decided to venture outside even though it was cold and rainy. I walked along the Doe River with my umbrella, across a bridge, down a little trail, and found a vacant cabin with a covered porch and rocking chair facing the river. It seemed the perfect spot to find a dry place to sit, reflect, and listen. And as I sat there, with no pretense or performance, just me as I was, I felt loved – an overwhelming sense of being seen and known and loved by God. Almost the exact opposite of what I thought I would experience in that space. It was so peaceful and healing and I have gone back to it over and over in my mind since that weekend. Even though I didn’t get clear answers for the things I was seeking God for during that time, He gently showed me something better – Himself. All along it wasn’t about clearing my schedule and carving out time to get the direction I was looking for, I only needed Him – to just sit still, quiet my mind, remove distractions (my phone!), and have solitude with the One who made me.
It became clear that having intentional time set aside like this is necessary in order to “clear out the clutter” and to really root my identity as a daughter of God in what is true. There is something so healing and refreshing about time away with God in solitude, as scary as it can sound initially. As Heather put it – it’s the One who meets you in the silence, that’s where the difference is. Another special part of the retreat was the group share time after our silent afternoon. I loved hearing how God met each lady individually during that time, and yet I related to a portion of what each woman shared. Again my heart was encouraged as I saw a glimpse of how God loves each one of us and meets us right where we are.
I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to go on the Reset retreat. The most important thing I learned was it was so worth it – the outcome and benefits are worth the struggle, effort, and even mental battle that it can take to “come away to a quiet place” and have time with God.