This past weekend was nothing short of amazing. I stretched myself out of my comfort zone in so many ways and that left the door of my life and heart wide open for God to design some astounding experiences for me. It was a wonderful time of connecting with others and as my friend so eloquently said “to reconnect with myself, and get a different perspective and appreciation of my life.”
For a couple of years now I have been wanting to go to one of the Mariners Church Women’s Retreat, but fear, comfort zones, and sometimes schedule conflicts prevented me from going.
This year I was determined to go. But I also wanted a little bit of a safety blanket. I had invited a friend of mine to join me, and honestly it wasn’t just for the safety blanket, I wanted some time for her and I to grow closer in our friendship. I value her a lot and we have many things in common so I thought this would be an excellent environment to create that. Unfortunately she couldn’t make it.
So I had a choice to make. I could either fill myself with excuses or listen to that whisper and go. I didn’t know a single other person going. Well, correction, I did know one person but I knew in my heart I didn’t want to just lean on her as a crutch, and plus she would have her own story and connections she’d be making. So I took a deep breath and like a person ready to jump in the water knowing the initial cold feeling just might shock her body, I registered for the retreat. There would be plenty of time later to deal with my fears and anxieties about going solo. The seed of growth was planted.
A week before the retreat two gals and I received an email from the director saying that our names had come up as great candidates to be Cabin Leader. My first thought was no. Which of course means I emailed back saying I would love the opportunity to volunteer and serve as Cabin Leader. I’m telling you, God was determined to get me out of my comfort zone this weekend.
My next choice had to do with the drive there. I knew there were options to sign up as a carpool driver or to be added on as someone that needed a drive there. I wanted to do neither and I didn’t budge on this, until the day of the trip. I was all set to go by myself. Then I saw the weather forecast, possible snow on Sunday, and as I shared this with my husband he suggested I carpool with someone. Oh no. A complete stranger in my car. Because I sure as heck didn’t want to be driven there and be at the whim of someone else’s idea of when to go and when to stop. So, if you know me, you know I do not do well with pointless small talk. Despite my strong desire to do otherwise, I emailed the event coordinator and she got me in touch with the gal that was going to be at the carpool meeting place and I agreed to show up just after 2pm. Nothing could be more uncomfortable than the anticipation of not knowing how this would pan out. But my husband made a good point. “It’ll give you a chance to meet someone before you even arrive at the retreat.” True.
Long story short, there were more drivers than needed, BUT I ended up getting four gals in my car so that we could carpool together. One of the gals, Courtney, even turned out to be in the same Cabin as me! It was the funniest thing when I mentioned I had emailed the girls from my Cabin to welcome them and then she looked through her email and asked me if I was Yvonne, haha. My husband was right. Arriving at the retreat and already at least knowing 3 people was going to be a blessing.
There is so much to share about the entire experience but for the sake of keeping it short, and because I want to write further about this in a different post, I will say that God truly amazed me this weekend. There was 6 of us (including me) in our cabin and each one of those gals had some incredible stories. Never would I have imagined that the first night, after hearing the speaker, we would all meet each other for the first time inside our cabin (with of course the exception of Courtney who I had already connected a bit with on our drive up) and that our connection and similarities would be so deep that we stayed up until midnight talking and sharing about ourselves and what brought us there.
God absolutely had his hands in picking us to be together. I learned that fear can stop me in my tracks from having some incredible experiences. That stepping out of my comfort zone is daring and beautiful. That God is ever present and designing what he knows your heart and soul needs.
And what I needed was time away, to reflect, to rest, to connect, and grow and see life through the lens of God’s love. I learned to trust His voice. He will cast fear away, and even if I am scared, to have Him have my back is incredible and reassuring.