Do you ever feel the need to escape, regroup, get it together, push the reset button, straighten out one or all of your kids, and put your priorities in order?
When I feel overwhelmed, I take a mini-retreat. It hasn’t been an annual event, but a practice I’ve engaged in for years whenever I need to prioritize.
When my boys were young, I’d check in with my husband and arrange to have a half day on a Saturday morning to get away.
My mini-retreat would simply be purchasing a cup of coffee, taking a notebook and pen, and finding a quiet table at a park. Being out in the fresh air with nature revitalizes me and allows me to think.
In the quiet of my retreat, I honestly assess how things are going with my life, my marriage, and my kids. At first, I simply journal. I write down my thoughts, frustrations, concerns, and hopes, what is going well, and what needs to be improved.
Once I’m real with myself, I begin to list what my “ideal self” would look like -spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Then I ask myself, what steps I can take to attain these goals and become this person?
In assessing my ideal self, I’m not comparing myself to anyone else. This is simply taking a look at who God created me to be, then asking how I can potentially or ideally live this out?
For example, when I was a young mom, I wrote in my journal that emotionally I’d like to be balanced, slow to anger, not easily upset or rattled. I’d like to be positive and happy, controlled, without yelling or raising my voice when parenting.
(Raising four boys would sometimes bring out my “outdoor voice” in the house, because it seemed that boys couldn’t hear my nice mommy voice – then I’d feel terrible.)
After I worked on my own goals, I would write out each of my boys’ names, making a list of issues we needed to be working on to build their character or correct their course. Some years when I’ve done this exercise, I’d have a son’s name listed, along with a long list of things to work on. So as to avoid overwhelming him or me, I chose the top three issues to intentionally work on. I did this for each son. An example would be – focus on reaching ____’s heart, not on his outward behavior; change ____’s negative attitude; train him to stop lying.
This process enabled me to feel like I wasn’t being tossed about on a rough sea, out of control. Instead, I felt focused and purposeful. I determined my priorities and planned steps to reach my goals.
Once I had a new plan for each area of my life, I would pray over it and ask God to give me the wisdom, strength, and energy to be the best wife, mom, and follower of Jesus I could be.
Then I would head back home feeling clear headed, refreshed, and determined.
A mini-retreat is like oxygen for the soul. I like to use the analogy of the oxygen masks dropping down in an airplane. Flight attendants instruct passengers to place the oxygen over their own face before assisting children or those around them. If a passenger can’t breathe and loses consciousness, how can that passenger be of use to anyone else?
I encourage you to get away for a couple of hours or a whole day to take inventory and set some priorities for yourself. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, the ripple effect will be seen in your own life and in the lives of those you love.
Where are your favorite places to retreat to? How have retreats refreshed or renewed your state of mind and heart? Feel free to comment below 🙂