When Nicole wrote about not liking women's ministry (gatherings, retreats, teas, etc.), I was doing a happy dance and celebratory hand-waving. I'm sure I looked like a nutty person, but I was so relieved that she felt like me.
This past weekend, I went to a women's retreat. I have been on retreats before, but this was the first one I have gone to that was paid for out of my pocket. This time was different because I had a time and financial investment.
I don't know what actually possessed me to sign up for the weekend getaway. I like being home with my hubster, eating the meals I make, and sleeping in my nice bed. Nicole talks about how she is led by the Spirit. I am too. I think it was the quiet voice of Jesus calling me, "Come Malisa, experience more of what I have for you. I want to spend time with you and get to know you better." Shockingly, I signed up.
I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I allowed myself to be a follower rather than the leader. I allowed myself to be out of control and go with the flow.
Jesus was calling me. He spoke through the messages the various teachers presented, in conversations with friends, and orchestrating connections I could have never organized.
Saturday afternoon we took a walk to a scenic overlook.
I was taking pictures for my blog. I was irritated that I didn't have cell phone coverage. Heaven forbid, I was only able to check my Twitter account for 2 minutes in 48 hours!
Standing on the edge of a breathtaking vista, ladies threw rocks over the edge representing things they were leaving behind and never picking back up. Some said control, others said hurtful relationships, and others said fear.
I wanted to throw a rock over the edge, but I couldn't think of anything. I was outraged that here I stood a good girl, raised in a Christian home, and there was not a thing I could throw over.
The more ladies threw their rocks over the cliff's edge and proclaimed things they were getting freed from, the more enraged I got. I walked over to Bev (the leader of the retreat) and asked, "May I have a word with you? Actually, I'm going to need a few words with you." She happily walked with me to a spot away from the group.
(Bev and Me after our conversation)
I told her I was angry. I didn't believe that God was trustworthy. I didn't believe that a rock I threw over the edge would matter. Whatever "thing" I might throw over, I'd find again.
I've prayed that my excruciating neck and shoulder pain would go away, but it hasn't. I've prayed that I would stop saying hurtful things. I've prayed that I wouldn't give dirty, disgusted looks to my husband. I've asked and asked and asked.
I said I couldn't and didn't know how to accept the love of God.
I admitted to Bev I didn't need God, because I was a good girl. I wasn't bad enough to need a Savior.
I stated I was too busy working for Him. I’m too busy getting “gold stars” for my performance.
Photo Credit: Warrenski on Flickr
Bev asked me what I would do if I wasn't trying to get gold stars?
My answer brought tears to her eyes. As tears streamed down my face, I answered, "I don't know what I'd do."
She said, "Oh, Sweetie! You don't have to do anything. All you need to do is accept the love of Jesus. You just get to know him. That's all."
She then asked me what my name means. I said "honey bee." She laughed! Bev's name means "beaver." Beavers and bees are busy creatures.
Bev asked me if she could throw a rock for me. I said yes. She grabbed a rock and held my hand. She said the rock was to end gold stars. She threw it. It was the beginning of something different.
Writing this story brought me additional freedom. A freedom I didn't even realize when she threw the rock.
Jesus calls me daughter. He says I'm a sheep. And little sheep are the most high maintenance livestock in the world. If it weren't for shepherds, they would die. (I learned that this weekend too, thanks Nicky!)
Photo Credit: ekieraM on Flickr
Even though my given name means honey bee and I envision little worker bees with their non-stop buzzing, I'm a sheep in the Kingdom. And as a sheep, my job is simple. I eat, drink, sleep, and follow.
That's a pretty light yoke if you ask me.
So, here I am now. On the other side of a weekend away. With a new understanding. An understanding that Jesus came for good girls too. Jesus came for me.
I am encouraged to know that I don't have to keep performing for Him. When the enemy comes to my mind and says, "Dance, pilgrim!" I don't have to.
You see, the Shepherd calls me and says, "Come here, dear daughter, I want to spend time with you, Malisa. I want to get to know you."
No more performing for this sheep. I'll follow the shepherd and get to know the voice of Jesus.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. - John 10:2-5
What are your thoughts on being a sheep? Can you relate to performing to try and earn the approval of a God who already accepts and loves you?