Three Lessons I Learned Today
1. I am prideful. My husband pointed out that it’s a trait I get from my mother, attempting to look like I have it all together. “Well, when you put it that way…” I said with a shiver running down my spine. My mother’s need to look like she had it all together kept my father from getting treatment for his paranoia/schizophrenia and kept his sisters out of the dark for too many years. Knowing that quality exists in me is a rather scary thought.
I went to a prayer retreat today and again, tried to act like I had it all together. Truth be told, I’ve been going through a spiritual drought. My prayers have consisted of nothing but “why” questions and I earnestly began to pray that I would seek to “know God more than my need to understand Him.” Through the guidance and counseling of two wonderful Christian friends, they prayed with me and reminded me of God’s promises through Scripture. My faith began to see the beginnings of restoration.
Then it dawned on me that my spiritual drought could have been avoided or quickly quenched if I had not been so prideful but had chosen to reach out to a friend instead. But during those times, I often feel alone, lonely, and assume no one beyond my husband cares (which is simply not true). I have begun to ask God for a spirit of humility and to break my issue with pride.
2. It is essential for me to put on the armor of God before Christian retreats. Since April 2007, I have begun attending women’s retreats. And every single time, I am spiritually beaten down and emotionally depressed at some point. At my church’s women’s retreat back in November, I decided that I was no longer going to attend any more retreats. Why bother? I cry every single time at each one of them. (And I’m normally not a huge crier. However, I think that’s beginning to change.)
So again today, as we broke for a time of individual prayer, I found myself lost. I was so spiritually parched that I could not find a way to pray anything beyond “God, where are You?” So I decided that there was no need for me to remain there as I’d simply plunge into a deeper depression than I’d been in all week. When I told a friend I was going home, she pulled me aside, showed me God’s promises from Scripture, and promised to pray for me. Another friend forfeited her individual time of prayer by taking the time to sit with me, pray with me, and go through God’s word with me, showing me how faithful God is and how He will accomplish all of His promises. I am grateful to both dear friends for their service and ministry to me.
Later on, as women were sharing their testimonies of what God had done for them in their lives, I realized that Satan attacked me each and every time I went to a retreat because he knew I’d be blessed somehow and come out a stronger Christian than before. I look at the encouragement I received after staying through lunch and realized that’s something I would have missed out on had my friends allowed me to go home. How many wonderful blessings and times of fellowship had I missed out on because I was so spiritually, mentally, and emotionally unprepared going into a Christian retreat?
Ephesians 6 outlines what the armor of God consists of:
- Loins girded with truth
- The breastplate of righteousness
- Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace
- Having the shield of faith
- Taking the helmet of salvation
- Having the sword of the Spirit
And in verse 18, Paul writes, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”
Ok, so really, I should have the armor of God on at all times but I’ve since learned that I need to basically prep myself before going to a spiritual retreat because forces of darkness and wickedness are tend to throw all they’ve got at me. I’m not very good at this fasting and prayer thing but I see it as pretty necessary if I need to get through a Christian retreat. Some people can just walk into a Christian retreat and get a blessing without a problem. I’ve learned that it’s not so easy for me and I will need to work at it. Next time a retreat comes around hopefully Satan will be the one retreating and not me. (Ha!)
3. I need to put more effort into maintaining friendships, more so than I ever had to before. Maintaining friendships before I got married was easy. Most of my friends lived close by, I could call them up at a moment’s notice, we could talk on the phone, dilly-dally, and hangout with little scheduling conflicts. Now, I’m at a different stage of life but my expectations of maintaining friendships haven’t changed. I’m friends with very few single people but have a plethora of married friends who are moms to young children. And many of them don’t live down the street or a hop, skip, and a jump away. While I know friendship isn’t a one-way street, since I’m the one with a bit more time on my hands, I need to be considerate and reach out to my friends who are moms. And I shouldn’t be afraid of bugging them; they’ll always be busy. When they have a moment to talk, they’ll call me back. I need to understand that and be respectful of that. There will never that one perfect time when a mother will always be free but I need to make the effort to reach out a bit more. And I’m sure many of them would love an excuse to get out and gab over coffee or food. So, that’s my other challenge: working at maintaining my friendships—more so than I ever have before. It’ll be hard work but the reward of friendship is indeed priceless.