This past weekend radically changed my life. Now let me be honest with you, I had no idea what I was going to experience. There is a lot of negative perceptions surrounding “church retreats”, but my experience this past weekend gave me a whole new meaning to what a women’s encounter is.
The first night I had a freak out. Literally. I was so nervous to meet other women, to be vulnerable, and let others see my heart and the mess that is inside. Thinking about that makes me want to laugh at myself because I have never had a problem with being vulnerable and talking to others – as you can tell by this blog, I have no problem writing out what is going on in my life. I guess the realization of having to be vulnerable in person to others who do not know me freaked me out. Truthfully, I think part of me was a little scared to let things go and to completely surrender everything over to the one who already knows my heart.
Let me tell you though, God did a thing in me. He set a fire in my heart. I have never felt so confident in my identity in Christ. My perspective on so many topics changed this weekend, but everything lead back to renewal of the mind and putting God first in my life and in my heart. Our identity precedes our activity. Our activity should be a display of our heart and who we are in Christ. Too often we can get this flipped… our activity in anything should never identify who we are. This hit hard for me, because there have been many times in my life were I have thought if I do x, y, & z … then someone will be proud of me or God will love me more. The more I think about it, that is a very toxic and harmful place of mind to be in. We need to flip our perspective and realize that there is nothing, no activity, that can make God love us any more or any less. God’s love never fails and never fears. How freeing is that? I know that this truth sets my heart free.
By the end of the weekend, I realized that I was holding onto habits and thoughts that had to be given to God. There is no reason for me to hold onto guilt, shame, or habits that do not honor God. How can I live in a place that reflects the fullness of Christ if I do not relinquish my control and surrender to Jesus? There is a common misconception about Christians, that once they surrender and are baptized they never have sufferings and life is all flowers and rainbows. THIS IS FALSE. Truth is, I think surrendering your life to Christ only puts a bigger target on your back for the enemy. The good news of the gospel is that we are fighting our battles from a place of victory. God has already won the battle. Jesus has already conquered the grave. Yes, he promised us that we will encounter sufferings in this life, BUT GOD has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Your failed relationships do not define who you are. Your past habits and actions do not define who you are. Your sufferings and circumstances do not define who you are. Christ is the only one who has a say in your identity and guess what? He claims you as his child. He calls you beloved. He called you beautiful and HIS. There is no greater love than the love of God. I pray that as you are reading this that if you do not know the kind of love that I am talking about, that you soon accept and follow THE ONE who loves you more than anything in the world.
I am forever grateful for the strong, christian women who poured into my life this past weekend. The time, patience, and hard work that went into bringing together and carrying out this retreat did not go unnoticed. Again, I am so thankful to be apart of such an amazing church. The revival that is going on within the church and in the world fires me up for what God has planned in the church and in my life.