I headed down to Vancouver, WA this morning for a day at the Briar Rose Inn Bed & Breakfast. I attended a day retreat put on by our network for women in leadership. The setting was so sweet. It was in downtown Vancouver, very historic. The house was quaintly decorated and fitting for the period of time it was built (1908). It had creaky floors and tons of charm. I honestly could have stayed there for days and pretended to be someone from days gone by. But that was not the purpose of this day.
The purpose of the day for me was to meet new people. I have expressed before how few women in ministry I come in contact through our network, especially our section. My hope was to meet maybe some other credentialed ladies in our network or connect with some leaders that I might encourage in that direction. I wasn’t a walking advertisement for credentialing. I just wanted to meet some ladies and let the natural relationships head that direction. I would say my overall goal was accomplished. What I experienced with these ladies today was a stepping stone. A connection was made. That was the goal.
The spiritual elements of the day retreat were great. Lots of solitude mixed with sharing. I feel like a lot of people live such busy lives that moments of solitude are scarce. I, however, am no stranger to solitude. It’s my preferred mode of operation. My schedule and pace can also be super busy, but as an introvert, I’m constantly making time for quiet moments. I will cease to exist without them.
The best part of our quiet moments was I got to spend them on a beautiful window seat with sheer curtains looking out over the street. I have a soft spot in my heart for window seats, so this location seemed made for me. I quickly snatched it up before anyone else. For the first part of the day, I read articles of about solitude and silence. I prayed about what God has been laying on my heart. I took a walk around the block and then ended up in the garden to do my daily Bible reading.
Lunch was a time of sharing. We talked about what we thought about during our solitude. I shared how I looked out the window and noticed the diverse group of people walking by. My life has been so focused on my story as of late, that I stopped to think about others and what their story might be. Who are they? They matter to God, so they should matter to me. The mix of homeless and urban professionals, students, joggers… They each are special and unique.
After lunch we went into another quiet time. This time with two tasks. One was to read the Scripture and let it minister to us. The other was write a haiku. Now those of you that know me, know I’m not big into poetry and being all flowery with my words. The point of the exercise though was the power of less. To say more with less. To limit our words and still make a statement.
My heart was drawn back to Philippians 2. I’ve been camped there this week as I’ve contemplated what it means to make myself nothing. As I read the passage, I wrote down these key phrases:
- Being united with Christ
- Comfort from his love
- Fellowship with the Spirit
- Tenderness and compassion
- Joy Complete = being like minded, same love, one in spirit, one in purpose (not just as the body of Christ, but with Christ)
- Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped
- He made himself nothing
- Humbled himself
- Became obedient
As I wrestle with this passage, I am reminded that Jesus’ obedience lead to death. In a lot of ways I see how my obedience leads to death of self. It’s Christ’s death that lead to his resurrection and so the glory was given to God. I know that God’s glory will be seen when I get out of the way, die to myself and let him do his thing – not my thing. I’m realizing that while my dreams are not bad, if they are not God’s dreams for me then they need to die. I need to get them out of the way. Just like a seed that goes into the ground, it might seem like dying has no purpose, but once it sprouts new life it reaps an even greater harvest. Letting go now might just reap an even bigger harvest than I can imagine in this moment.
My haiku deals with this Scripture. I realize that I have too many syllables, but it’s hard to track the syllables when you can’t say them out loud and talk it out. We were all in the same quiet room for this activity. So for those who would have noticed, yes, I did it wrong. Oh well! Here is my haiku:
Do I dare to dream
To be made into nothing
Fully united with Christ
The first line talks about my own wrestling with my dreams and God’s dream for me. I so badly want his way over my way. The second line is where his way leads – to be made into nothing. This is the non-glamorous option. However, it leads to being fully united with Christ, which is far better than my own dream.
We closed by writing encouraging notes for everyone in a card that was provided. We read the words of encouragement to each other as we took communion. It was a good way to end. Despite what each one of us might have been dealing with, I feel that everyone left encouraged. I know that I did. I’m starting to learn more and more that I don’t need to be understood by people. So even if this group of ladies didn’t get me, I still feel like the day was a win for me. It’s nice to getaway to a new location – outside of home and church. It was nice to meet new people and to share a few moments together. The smallness of the group wasn’t awkward. I felt like we shared great depth for just meeting. It was a good experience and one I would repeat if given the opportunity.