Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel...
Philippians 1:27 NIV
The sounds of laughter filled the "Ruby Tuesday", about 20 women filling 2 tables. Lots of which knew each other, but hadn't seen each other in quite awhile. Others, like me, were here for their first time. One of the sweetest memories of my journey is the amazing glow around our tables. I instantly felt like this is where I belong....I felt at peace, "no agenda." We went around our table & shared our names.....I thought "I'll never remember all these names????" But throughout the meal, I learned something about each of the beautiful women, H has a farm & grows/raises her own meat & veggies, or K was a hostess for an amazing Proverbs 31 author. On & on it went. I don't think I have laughed so much in a long time.
After dinner we met to learn more about each other, after all there were 2 tables of women....not just mine. We played an ice breaker. The questions were pretty light hearted & some of the answers would cause the crowd of excited women to burst out into laughter. Then came the first "A".....the question brought a heavy reality into the room...."your biggest heart break?" She looked down as if to find a piece of herself that wasn't crying...then shared her biggest heart break. I think the room held their breath & after the answer let go of the breath. On to the next & on it went, each time someone shared their "A" we all felt the hurt for each beautiful woman's heart break. For me, it was a reminder that life, can be fun & carefree, but there are trials that come & take our breath away.....always. After a break from the games, the core team for the retreat, were asking the women with the "A's" to sit in the "hot seat"....I figured out quickly that it was really a "seat of love."
In the "seat of love" God had the chance to love you directly. He could speak out through any of the amazing women who were praying over you out loud, or He could comfort you through the hands laid gently on you.....I'd never felt God's Presence so thick anywhere, or anytime. It was electrical & calming at the same time. I don't know what carried me up to the foot of the "seat of love" & yet there I was on my knees at the feet of Special K. They started to pray over both of us, hands on both of my shoulders & their words began to blurrr....I began to sob uncontrollably, from a depth I didn't know existed inside me...I tried to stop it, but I just kept hearing Jesus telling me "let it go Robin, let it all go", so I laid there...just sobbing. I began to feel a release of pain, I had sooooo much pain inside to release it seemed like I was lost in the sea of aching & couldn't swim out. I could feel the pain physically leaving my body & as quickly as it would leave I could physically feel the peace & love fill up the empty spot. I don't have any idea how long I sobbed, I just know I couldn't stop until I did. As, I started to seep back into reality, I realized I was being comforted by my new friend C-1. I left that circle, completely vulnerable. Feeling calm like I have never known....
We took a break & then God continued to meet the others right where they were. We were in group circle until well after 12:30 A.M. After a nice hot bath, I laid down & slept like I hadn't slept in I couldn't tell you how long & yet it seemed like I had just closed my eyes when the alarm went off to get up for breakfast. Still I was so awake & alert, filled with excitement at what the new day would bring.
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
1 Corinthians 14:26 NIV
Walking in I could hear the sound of worship music filling the room.....love love love to worship & praise God through music. I felt free to worship however I wanted, dancing, lifting my hands in praise, laying face down, or laying on my back just lifting up the joy I feel to the One who brings the joy. I felt so free, my heart was open for anything He had to do in me.....I was surrendering. After, worship for a bit is a blur for me, I have to be honest. But, I do remember women sharing some of the deepest parts of themselves. I thought to myself, these women are so strong!! What came next hit me in a place I thought I had left behind awhile ago....you'll notice I said "thought."
There's a relationship in my life that I had believed to be all tied up in a nice little box called "forgiven" in my heart. Lots of my past is stashed in that box. They're safe & sound in there & I don't have to think of them that often. I've labeled them forgiven because that way they're "ok" now.....at least that's the lie I kept telling myself....I even told myself that God wasn't talking about those, they were taken care of.....He knows they are there & it's ok....Then one of the women I'll call Cy, shared about this same relationship in her life & the painful truth of it.....I heard God clear as day say "this is for you......& her" but I shook my head & again He said "This is for you & her".....finally I couldn't take anymore so I got up & went into the restroom to argue out loud with Him. The first words out of my mouth were "I cant do this right now....." He of course reminded me that no, I couldn't do it, but He was here & He could....but I still argued "I cant do this right now", He persisted & backed up His argument with an appearance of C-1 in front of me sharing His truth, with the addition of "come sit with me downstairs, let Him walk you through this." I reluctantly walked out & down the stairs...at first I argued & fought the thought of letting this painful relationship out of it's neat little spot in my box of "forgiven."
I have taken this particular relationship out of it's little spot many times in the past. Each time resulted in more & more pain on both sides....this I didn't realize had built up some very deep, truly hidden layers of un-forgiveness throughout my entire life. I carried these layers like baggage for all my life. It's one of the most important relationships, a parental relationship, the same sex relationship which is very important in molding our beliefs about how to act, what is right, I'm sure you get it......very important relationship. When I've believed in the past that I had forgiven all the things I was counting against her for the horrible things she had "done" to me, I really believed it. The enemy however can use this very lie against us, he knows our buttons & exactly how to use them. Even making us believe that we had forgiven someone......then using doubt to bring us back to the same situation, over & over.....all along he's winning, he has taken our attention off the ONE place of safety.....God. So, really forgiving I learned, involves us first repenting....yes repenting.
This thought never crossed my mind. I always knew that in the past with forgiveness, I seemed to be able to feel the same pain, anger, or heartache anytime I chose to. But I never knew that in forgiving, it is just as important to repent, as it is to forgive. Or that if I didn't repent I wasn't completely forgiving & the enemy could use this loose string, to pull me back into sin, anytime.....
I have lost my words for today.....sorry, truly sorry. But will be praying & listening for God to pick this amazing retreat, where we left off.