Isolation, (Mental) Retreats, Quiet Time and Peace of Mind
Author: Melissa Barber
Happy Seventh Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, I give thanks for isolation, (mental) retreats, quiet time, and peace of mind, all of which allow me to reflect and wrestle myself into loving myself, transforming myself and surrendering to God’s greater purposes for my life.
Last Sunday, I went to my best friend’s church and heard a sermon preached called “It is Worth Fighting for.” The reverend used the text in the book of Genesis, chapter thirty two, verses twenty four through twenty six. Those particular scriptures talk about a protagonist Jacob who is left alone in the wilderness and begins to wrestle with a “man” all night long. When day break comes, the man who is wrestling with Jacob demands that Jacob let him go. However, Jacob refuses and tells the man that he will not let go until he is blessed. The man then asks Jacob his name.
As she expounded on her sermon, the reverend mentioned a few things that resounded in my core. First, she said, “every now and then, there is something valuable enough to you that you will fight for it. Then she said, “when something is worth fighting for, we have to thank/bless God for isolation. Next she said, “Sometimes God will show up as a wrestler in your life because He has to fight you for you because you wont release yourself to Him.” Finally, she said “Since the teacher has provided you with everything you need to pass the test, the discretion of the teacher is that he can test you at any time, expecting that you are only done with the test when you give the teacher back what he gave you. Hearing these sentences separately, may not mean or sound like much but in the context of my life, they are so significant.
Last May or June, hearing about and witnessing all of the stress in my life, my mama invited me to a sisterhood retreat in California. I had absolutely no money to go (There is barely enough to pay for all the necessities in my life let alone for a retreat!) but knew that I needed the new perspective, rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation that would come with this retreat. Since my peace of mind has become one of my most valuable possessions and worth fighting for, I set my heart on getting to this retreat. Essentially, I was trying to figure out how to rob peter to pay paul and get the money (without having to dance on a pole, which I am too heavy to work anymore, or sell body parts! LOL!). When I exhausted all my possibilities, I told my mama that I wanted to go but had financial limitations that made this trip nearly impossible. She told me that if I could pay the cost of my flight to LA, my organization would sponsor the cost of the retreat. I can’t even explain how I got the money for that flight and childcare (But God!) in the nick of time.
I had no idea about the “gift” of isolation that awaited me there or the test that my character would undergo (to bring me forth as gold) nor the sweet surrender that I would do after being wrestled all day and night for days. The beginning portion of this retreat experience was one big mirror screaming, “This is your life! It is completely out of balance and out of control!” The second portion of the retreat gently took my hand, with motherly and sisterly love, and led me to the work saying, “here is the work you need to do and the decisions you need to make to love yourself and find the medicine in the poison of your life.” Once I did the work and became intentional about making some absolutely necessary decisions, the all day/all night wrestling in my heart and mind with The Divine Spirit (and myself) until I received a release subsided.
The final stage of the retreat released the new blessing—new life tools, new purpose, new identity, new perspective, new strength, and new sisterhood. There was a surrender in my heart that I knew was timely (not just a chronos but a kairos timely moment). I also knew that I had ended an era of cycles. I knew that the giants in that phase of my life had been conquered and had fallen and that I would see them no more. [Often, we wonder why we go in circles and we see the same pattern of cycles in ourselves, several members of our family and even in generations. It’s because when the test is presented, we don’t pass. The Divine teacher can/will never let us move to the next level if we haven’t passed and mastered the level we are on.] This test I passed, with flying colors.
The new me gave myself permission and the strength to choose me. I was now a beautiful butterfly who was ready to spread my wings and show the world my beauty. And I, too, was worth fighting for.
Today, as we give thanks for retreats, isolation, quiet time, and peace of mind, I’d like to highlight the organization This Is My Brave (https://thisismybrave.org/). Their mission is to end mental health stigma by empowering people to tell their stories of living with mental illness through creative work like storytelling, poetry or music. Please donate your resources to this organization or grab tickets to a live show of storytelling when they come to your town as they travel throughout the country.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!