Perhaps some of why I was so overwhelmed was that I was busy planning our very first soul care retreat.
Even though we just got back from our honeymoon earlier this month – which I’m super excited to post about really soon – I’d been really pumped about this weekend away, just the two of us with minimal distractions to get quiet and connect more deeply with God.
I’ve been doing something similar to this for years – over a decade actually; taking time to rent out a room at a B&B, to take a pile of books (and only read half of one), take walks by myself, sit next to water and journal. I would sometimes go to a spa – alone or even sometimes house sit or stay at a friend’s home while they were out-of-town. And especially more intentional, I went on two “soul care retreats” with Holy Yoga and absolutely devoured the opportunity to join a bunch of other women stretching at their ability level, being vulnerable about their challenges in small groups and particularly finding power and love in the times of silence.
When I posted about being overwhelmed last week, I was aware that I needed this kind of time and was also aware that it was coming – I was planning it for us – but wasn’t sure how it would go for us as a couple.
I was about to share something pretty sacred and meaningful for me with my new husband and was a tiny bit nervous about how it might actually go. How might he receive it? Would he be resistant? Think it was too early for us to be taking these types of preventative, intentional, God-focused kind of getaways? I mean, we did just get married, right?
But, exactly because we are newlyweds – with past marriages and past hurts that want to rear their ugly heads at all the worst times – we needed to prioritize this retreat time away – together.
I wanted to gift this to my hubby, so I saved and set aside the money, arranged for the place to stay, did all of the shopping, created the agenda – even pre-filled the car with gas and did the driving so he could have fun relaxing into the whole thing.
48 hours – not planned to be rigid but so that he could see what was in my heart about this time away; we had an outline of the foods/meals I’d cook, the big wins and the why behind the whole thing. It was a simple thing, though simple doesn’t always mean easy. It definitely took some effort.
While Mister was preparing for our honeymoon, I was planning for this weekend.
I prayed about it.
I thought about the desired outcome and what we would feel like returning home from the weekend if the intentions set were actually met.
I asked him to pick out recipes he really liked or wanted me to try.
I also pleaded with him not to ask questions – partially because I wanted to surprise him, but mostly because I wanted things to remain fluid; if something I wanted to happen wasn’t going to, it removed the pressure because he would never know what he was missing and not be disappointed or feel something was lost.
I shared with only a few people the details of what we were doing only a couple of days before we left.
F R I D A Y
We arrived at our location – a very generous lake house loan from dear friends – later than I’d plan because – well, traffic – but immediately unloaded the car, unpacked, got the lay of the land then settled into a conversation like old friends connecting again after a little time apart.
We sipped wine, read scriptures that were highlighted from the Bible set out at our wedding and talked about the one area we’d like the other person to work on most in our marriage, as our partner.
I’m gonna go ahead and share that my sweet husband would like for me to grow in being less nagging (even though he says I’m only a little naggy, he’d still like to have it eliminated). I won’t waste anytime telling you that I argued with him about this. It had already come up during a trip we’d taken together before we got engaged, early on in our marriage and then again on our honeymoon (which we took three months after being wed). I added bossy and sassy to the mix and told him that we would take some time the next day to get quiet with God and petition Him for help.
(Since I’m the writer and sharer here, I’ll refrain from sharing what I asked hubby to improve in – maybe he’ll want to share in this space someday – but for now, you’re gonna hear about me.)
I shared with him the overall agenda – hoping he wouldn’t flee from the lake house in the night at his wife’s planning abilities – and he smiled and received the plan with gratitude sharing that this was new for him.
Oh! I forgot the frozen pizza, so we snacked (glad I packed snacks) – and it was all good – see fluid!!!
We talked for a while longer and then settled into the night open to what the next day would bring.
S A T U R D A Y
We woke up without an alarm!
Even if you’re not in a position to travel or getaway for a retreat, try this one little thing on the weekend and let your body tell you when to open your eyes; game changer!
We did light fare breakfast, snacking – setting up the morning and preparing ourselves for the time to be quiet.
Mister was going to walk and I was going to sit by the lake.
Though I’ve experienced times of silence for much longer, I thought I’d ease us in as a couple this first time at 1 1/2 hours.
I knew we each needed something different in order for this to be effective. I needed to be able to journal, look up/at words and then sit still to listen and hear. Mister on the other hand, needed to be in nature, in the trees, walking and moving and interacting with the outdoors.
We arrived in the kitchen within minutes of one another.
As I prepared lunch – he really, really, really enjoys good fish – we started chatting about what we heard in the areas we’d mentioned the night before.
I won’t go into detail here, but we both heard the simplest, sweetest, most loving message which was basically – come to Me first and I will give you the strength you need to give the other what they most desire in this season of your marriage.
We spent time in the Word, finding scriptures to help us focus when the flesh wants to pull us away. And then we spent a couple of hours laying out a dream map; dreaming big ideas for 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2028.
Y’all there are some big, beautiful (somewhat scary) dreams on our map. But, the experience of dreaming opened us up to one another in areas of our souls we’d not yet discovered or revealed to the other. There were no major surprises, but bold, big prayers for things we’d not allowed ourselves to even put words to before.
S U N D A Y
Slept in again – yes!
And then made another new dish for breakfast. While I cooked, he chatted and we listened to worship music.
We spent some time down on the pier of the boathouse and opened our pre-marital counseling assessments. There are a lot of pages but rather than get into the weeds on every page, we got quiet and went through the packet separately, each chose one page and then discussed a couple of things from each page together.
We were able to be honest with one another and then prayed aloud as boaters and jet-skiers whizzed on by, while turtles popped their heads above the water and fish sometimes surprisingly leaped above the surface.
Y’all it was so wonderful.
We experienced freedom from distraction and busy, laughed and played with one another as friends and partners and learned to love more about God and one another in an effort to strengthen our connection.
I recommend soul care retreats for everyone.
If you’re up for it and think you’d like to plan one for yourself or someone you love, it might help to consider for the following:
- the distractions that need to be set aside
- getting away for at least 36 to 48 hours
- keeping the plan simple (don’t try to plan too much of anything)
- make room for God to speak – get silent for a little while (don’t talk to one another)
- share with people you trust what you’re going to do so they can ask you about it and pray for you to be focused and successful while you’re away and help you when you return
- choose a place that speaks to you and how you interact best with God
- choose at least one scripture to carry away from the weekend
- before the weekend wraps up, choose a month/time for the next one
Make it happen, make it your own and be open to what may come.