The Velvet Ashes Retreat is now open! Come log in here. If you haven’t yet, it’s not too late to join. For your sake, we hope and pray you’re taking a full day or half day this weekend to find renewal and refreshment. I think we all know that’s what we need.
But if life is crazy right now, we understand that too. Even if you can just log in and watch the videos, you’ll be glad you did.
This post today at The Grove is our gathering place. It’s our space to share our expectations and our need for this retreat. It’s where we are together processing our retreat experience.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t really know what an experience means until you talk it out or write it out. That’s what we get to do here.
For those yet to go through the retreat…
- What are you most eager for as you get ready to do the retreat?
- What are you asking God for as you head into this time?
- What’s going on in your life right now that makes you say, “I really need this.”?
For those who’ve had your retreat experience…
- Did God impress something on you through the Scripture meditations or prayer and journaling times?
- What stood out to you from the video testimonies? Which stories did you resonate with? What messages did you need to hear?
- What do you want to remember from Video 3, our session on “Release – Learning to Live Light and Free?”
- What is it want to release or be released from?
I’ll share first, and then turn it over to all of you…
The idea of expectations and the theme of “release” has been rattling around in me for months. You all know my story of brokenness and my journey towards healing. A year ago, life felt anything but “light and free.” Layer by layer, God’s been taking me through the pile of expectations that I’ve been living under. Turns out I had a whole lot of heavy “shoulds” I was carrying.
- I should be better at language.
- I should have it all together and be awesome at homeschooling my kids.
- I should be meeting all of my husband’s needs and he should be meeting all of mine.
- I should be serving everyone more, my teammates, my relationships with locals. There are SO many needs!
- I should be able to do ALL THE THINGS I want to do here at Velvet Ashes.
Not living up to all of these expectations and more left me feeling like “not enough” in every area. Throw in the stress of a few crisis experiences, and I was not in a good place.
I started asking myself the question, “What does God actually expect of me?” Turns out, God does not expect me to live up to expectations I have set for myself, because half of them are not healthy or realistically possible.
One step at a time, he’s been helping me to identify and release unhealthy expectations. Reading Expectations & Burnout was a big part of this. And then preparing to do the session with Patty was honestly like personal therapy. God knew I needed her to walk with me in this. If you all get something out of that video, that’s a bonus, because really it was what I needed to hear and to tell myself.
Through this whole process, I’ve sensed individual areas and expectations to release. Recently though, I read Kara Tippett’s The Hardest Peace (This book needs to fly to the top of your “To Read” list right now. Trust me on this.) Her words crystalized for me, what my “big release” is.
In her book, Kara wrote a letter to her husband saying this:
“While cleaning – let’s be honest, while looking for a reason to not clean today- I found the journal I started for us so many years ago. The journal where we were going to write down the dreams we had for our marriage and our life together. I wrote only three entries in it. Sounds like me, all ideas and little follow-through, but I like to imagine I put that journal down and walked into the beautiful horizon of our marriage and stopped trying to create idols of what life should look like, and actually just sought life and faithfulness in the living.”
Her words have haunted me in the best way ever since. I knew that’s exactly what I had been doing, creating an idol of what life should look like, not only in marriage, but in all of life.
Dreams and goals and ideals are meant to be a means to fulfillment, but if we let them warp into heavy weights of expectation, they actually become hindrances to that fulfillment.
So that’s what I’m releasing. I’m letting go of the idol I’ve made of what life should look like, both in the big picture of life and in the small dailies. I’m tossing aside the heavy living that came with the expectations that were mine, not his. I’m grabbing hold of the freedom and lightness that are the way of Jesus.
I hesitate to say this next line, because I don’t want something so sweet and precious to me to come off sounding cliché, but I’ll risk it anyway to say that I truly am finding a deeper intimacy with God. It had gotten lost somewhere along the way, in the midst of the doing and serving. But it’s here now, and it is filling me in the way I’d so been longing for.
I imagine I’ll be picking up that idol from time to time again. It has a way of sneaking back, you know. But getting a taste of freedom grows your appetite for more. When heaviness starts to weigh again, when feelings of “not enough” start to clench, I know now to look for which unhealthy expectations have latched back on.
And now I’ll be quicker to release and let them go. Because this light and free living? I’m meant for it.
So how about you? We want to hear all about your retreat experience. Share here today, join us for the Live Chat with the editors Friday 8pm EST, and come share more at our special Retreat Reflections post coming out this weekend.
Comment below or link up your own blog posts here…