There’s something about a retreat.
I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with a dear friend, Allison Cain, and a group of amazing women from 341 ministries. Quaint cabins with a view of Lake Gaston welcomed us, secluded from the chaos of our everyday lives. We enjoyed family style meals together in the dining hall (scones!!) and had the run of the property with lots of fun activities to choose from. As fantastic as all of these things were, there was one thing that stood out to me even more.
This is Allison, she is gracious and wonderful and tries really hard to keep me sane!
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such genuine love and encouragement in a group of women! They showed up prepared for a good time and hungry for change. We dug into some HARD stuff in our small groups, and not once did I feel an ounce of judgement pass. With each interaction I could see their faces soften as they unloaded things that had been weighing heavily on their hearts. I sat there, taking it all in, wondering, “What the secret to creating this kind of sisterhood?”
Though I don’t have their secret formula, I am inclined to think that these things are part of the recipe:
Environment. The founders and leaders of this ministry have created a safe place for these women to come as they are. On the opening night of the retreat we heard from the leadership team and there was no question that they are all about loving women and helping them find their way to Jesus.
Authenticity. Each woman, from the founders of the ministry to the first timers, were willing to be open and honest with each other. No one was pretending that they had it all together and it all begins with one brave soul that is willing to say, “This is what’s going on with me.”
Comradery. A lot of these women do life together, standing shoulder to shoulder in the thick of it. They show up for each other! The key is to keep showing up, time after time, day after day… even when it’s hard and uncomfortable.
If you haven’t been to a weekend retreat, I want to encourage you to throw caution to the wind and go for it! If you’re anywhere near Johnston County, NC, there is a wonderful community of women at 341 Ministries waiting for you with open arms.
Show up, be real, and love well!
Here are some of the ladies from my small group. So much fun!