8 life lessons learned from a weekend away
Story behind this list: this past weekend, I had the amazingly wonderful privilege to spend it growing in my faith, feeding my spirit, and healing my soul…in an unexpectedly exhausting way. I attended my first ACTS retreat followed by being confirmed in my Catholic faith. This post isn’t about religion per se. or “preaching” about Jesus. or trying to convince anyone of anything or impose my beliefs on you. It’s simply about what I took away from a weekend filled with meaningful connection to truly amazing and inspiring women of faith & void of superficial connection to time or space or technology…literally. No cell phone. No watches or clocks. No internet. No television. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. (side note: I like the word “zilch;” I think I’ll use it more often). So, that’s what this list is. read on.
8. I’m pretty effing adaptable.
While I heard others complain of how filled with anxiety they were not knowing the time or schedule for the day; how uncomfortable they were away from home, unable to sleep through the night; how they didn’t like the food that was being served; how the hours of sleep were too little; how their roommate talked too much; I embraced it all. I loooved it! Not knowing. Not being on a (known) schedule. Not having somewhere I needed to be. Not knowing my roommates’ stories and learning about them as the days went on. I adapted and went with it. All of it.
7. “Learn to be anxious about nothing and prayerful about everything.”
Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything. ‘nuf said.
6. “Why did He make you?” “To know and serve God and to be happy with Him in heaven.”
Experience of Happy is everywhere. So is our responsibility as human beings to serve one another in the best way possible. Stop searching. Start doing. ((aaand refer to number2 below for a tidbit on how)).
5. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop the tears.
I’ve mentioned before how I’m not much of a crier. I’ve come to terms with it, it’s whatevs. Buuut I also learned that sometimes, I do cry…even if I don’t want to. even if I haven’t had a single thing to drink (because, seriously, aside from me not being superemotional, another truth is that, sometimes, I get kindasorta emotional when I’ve been drinking). I found myself one afternoon not being able to stop the tears from falling. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I really did. Many times. But then they would just start up again. A woman sitting next to me hugged me tight and told me, “let them fall; they’re not going to stop until they need to.” She was right. They kept coming. And then, eventually, they stopped.
4. “If you want something done, ask a busy person; they’re sure to get it done.”
I think back to how many times I’ve complained about how busy I am. How I don’t have time for anything. How I can’t make time for something else. Well, folks, that’s bullshit. If I can make time to wake up at 4-thirty in the morning to work out or end a 13-hour day with time at the gym or spend mindless time in pity browsing over how great everyone’s lives are portrayed through facebook, I’m obviously not that busy. I can make time for prayer. I can make time for real connection with friends and family. I can make time to serve others. scratch all that. I will make time for those things. And more writing and reading. Definitely more of that.
3. Everything happens as it should. Seriously. No, like, for reals.
Being approached by the Archbishop and getting to take a picture with him and my sponsor (the most amazing spiritual mentor anyone could ask for) simply because we were standing in the right place, wanting but not intending to do so. Hearing stories of serendipitous moments and the unexplainable miracles which brought some of the women to the retreat. Receiving unconditional support and love from unexpected individuals during a moment when I felt more alone than I ever had before. Sitting at a table with women who reignited my desire to sing by encouraging me with simple words: “your voice is beautiful; you need to share it with others.” Riding home with a great woman who not only shared my profession but also shared in my love of music, suggesting I join a choir she was a part of. Accounts of being paired up with a friend’s daughter, unexpectedly meeting a sister’s friend, or having a significant other break up with a woman so that she could meet the one she was meant to be with, a supportive, loving, trusting, and faith-filled man. It’s the little things, which are actually big things, that give me faith that I am where I need to be, having experienced what I should have (good and not-so-good), surrounded by who I should be, connecting with individuals who will lead me to where I’m meant to be.
2. “True service is the gift of selfless love.”
Giving without conditions; that’s what it’s about. That’s what life’s about. Think of how awesome the world would be if everyone did this. seriously. Think about it; I’ll wait. …okay, now go do.
1. I need to “have a cup of coffee with God and tell him how great of a woman [I] am, how great of a woman He made [me].”
After some ((unexpected)) tough love from a priest, and the above suggestion from said priest, I got it. It finally clicked: I.am.a.great.woman. I’m still a bit shaky on saying this as confidently as I should buuut I’m getting there. After a weekend filled with some of the strongest women I have ever met telling me repeatedly that I am beautiful, that I am strong, that I am wise, that my smile and eyes tell more than my mouth ever will…I believe it.
What this list tells me: I am an amazing woman. I will continue my journey of learning, and healing, and failing, and succeeding. I am blessed beyond understanding. I am where I should be (side note: knowing this, really knowing this, helps with the whole patience thing). You are where you should be. We all have room for more happy. But will most likely get there by worrying less and serving more.