I drove up the mountain with a few other women, happily chatting about various things. But, my mind was not fully present. I was carrying a lot of things mentally and emotionally. We were headed to a retreat in the mountains—“A Weekend of Refuge”. We had been invited to rest, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and I certainly needed all of the above.
For a few months I had been feeling tired. I’m talking running-on-fumes-ready-to-escape-my-life-as-I- knew-it drained. Life asks a lot of all of us on a daily basis. I had been striving so hard trying to prove myself, and I had been looking for validation in the wrong places. Everywhere I turned people came up lacking on singing my praises which made me feel empty, unseen, and taken for granted. I knew God’s promise to give me a fulfilling life, but I felt so far away from that.
“Rest” is actually a verb. It means to actively or purposefully cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. For me, I cannot truly be still in my body my mind or my soul unless I physically leave my house. I have to completely unplug and get away, and the opportunity to do that for an entire weekend was such treasured gift.
I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of women that had also ventured into this weekend; women of all ages and various life stages. Some of them had been at the church for decades and some were more recent members, but all of us were looking for the same thing: rest and community. We went up largely as strangers, or at best acquaintances, and returned bonded as friends and sisters. We were given the space to be vulnerable and fully present, something I think we as women long for but simultaneously resist in our daily lives. We were given the space to just be. There was nothing I had to do. No one was judging me. The way that it felt so natural for all of us to be there, and the organic way connections formed left an impression on me that I want to carry into life here at home.
We were challenged to find ways to intentionally incorporate rest into our days and weeks going forward, and we were given a card with a verse on it as a memento. Mine reads, “Cling to what is good,” Romans 12:9. And on those days I find myself still striving for my worth I will remember, “The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14)