The beauty of an imperfect mother of pearl on my "mother" pendant
This weekend, I attended our church's women's retreat along with 80 other amazing women from my church ranging in age from 18 to 80. It was a fantastic weekend of relaxation, laughter, and inner reflection. The theme of this year's retreat was "Honoring the Everyday You". We participated in several activities to get to know others and to get to know ourselves better. A couple times we did a writing loop after hearing a poem. We even did a listening exercise and came to realize we all have to work on our listening skills. So, what did I gain from this weekend?
First, the obvious was that I really learned to appreciate the women that surround me. I appreciate them not just because they are fun to be with and are so supportive, but also because they are all so uniquely themselves.
I came to realize my own unique qualities, even the ones I don't like, are part of who I am. That is who God created me to be. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Right? Um...well, o.k.
I began to realize how critical I am of myself sometimes. I demand perfectionism more often than not, and I don't always feel content with who I am or what I'm doing. This weekend taught me that there is no perfect (OK, I already knew that, but I always need reminders).
I started thinking about the things I am passing to my children, such as values and the way they see themselves. I do not want them to see the imperfections, but I know like all of us, they will. My hope is that I can help them to see the beauty and not compare themselves to others as I have always done.
I also learned a hard lesson in giving up control. So, the week leading up to this weekend, I got a sinus infection on Monday, went to the doctor and got an antibiotic. Then, I got a migraine Tuesday night so bad I vomited and didn't get much sleep. Wednesday afternoon, my son came home from school, played with his friends for about and hour, then he came home and said he didn't feel good and threw up in the entryway. Ugh. He was throwing up for 8 hours (until midnight), so again, I got very little sleep. My son stayed home from school on Thursday. I finally got a decent night's sleep, though. I was leaving Friday for the retreat, and was finally feeling better from everything. Saturday night of the retreat, I started feeling bad and ended up throwing up as well. Ugh. My body ached all over, so I didn't sleep well at all. When I finally got home Sunday, I went to my room and took a 4 hour nap. I was so exhausted. I'm thankful my kids were able to play at the neighbor's house.
I wanted so much for it to be the perfect weekend. Instead, I get a stomach bug. That was completely out of my control. You know what, though? It did not ruin the whole weekend. I still had a great time and got a lot from the retreat. I was even able to go on a bike ride with a couple friends on Saturday afternoon during our free time.
I surrendered control, and I really didn't miss anything at the retreat. I felt well enough to go to the Sunday morning session and worship service. So many people asked how I was feeling on Sunday. I felt so loved.
God knew just what I needed. He knew I needed to feel loved because I had started to doubt myself while doing some of the activities. I was realizing I am unique, but I also felt in some ways I did not measure up. I was feeling inadequate. Not worthy. I was comparing myself to others, and I knew that was not what I was supposed to be doing.
You see, I'm a very competitive person. I think that's something my kids have also inherited from me, unfortunately. I always made straight As, never got in trouble, strived to be the BEST in everything (from band to sports). It was hard for me to accept that I was not good at something. I've gotten better in that area, but it still comes out. So, when we started a project at the retreat where we traced our body on a large piece of paper then decorated it, I had to remind myself that it was NOT a competition! LOL!
My "Me Paper"
As I looked around the room at all the "Me Papers," I really started to see how very unique everyone is. Not only were the body shapes different, but everyone went about decorating in a very different way. Some got really artistic using fabric and paints to clothe their body shape and others like me just cut out words from a magazine and did a collage. Some covered the entire paper and others had only a few things on theirs. Some were excited about the project and others were apprehensive and overwhelmed by it. And one woman, who was actually our speaker last year, had nothing on hers because she couldn't find any glue!! LOL! She decided hers was blank because she was open to new opportunities. :)
I asked God to show me what I needed to learn from the weekend, and He did. He showed His mercy and grace through all those around me. He allowed me to give up control and be taken care of by others. He helped me realize my unique qualities, good and bad, and how those qualities make me who I am.
He also helped me to realize I am worthy, and that worth is not measured by earthly measurements or comparisons. It doesn't matter if my kids are well-behaved, or if I don't work outside the home, or if my house is not perfectly clean, or if I don't have a flat stomach, or if I talk too much, or if I'm not as funny as the woman next to me, or if I don't feel as smart, or if I sometimes forget God.
I will always be worthy to Him. He will always offer me His love, mercy, and grace. I just need to be ready to accept it.
Linking up with Jen and Soli Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven Today: