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Posts Tagged ‘solitude’

Retreat

retreat copySometimes what I write is because I so desire to share what I am learning. Sometimes what I write is my attempt to put a positive spin on something that is negative, or to speak of joy in the mourning, in the pain, in the bad news or the discouraging. Much of the time what I write is because I know that if I have heard, seen, felt or experienced something, others have too.

But, my main purpose in writing is always to leave something for my kids … so that when I am gone, they have my words to remind them who they are, how loved they are, and who loves them more than their mom ever could.

I also want to teach them that there is not perfect formula for finding balance in life. For life is lived in a sin-filled world, alongside individuals who have the freedom to make their own decisions. Sometimes we need to persevere, sometimes we need to retreat.

Jesus knew what it was to retreat. He knew that his human body and mind needed to get away alone to refresh, to rebuild, to rest and to reconnect with his Father. Even when (especially when) the demands for his message were greatest, he slipped away from those who needed him for awhile.

There is the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy. As one can imagine, when word got out that someone had been healed of that horrible, disfiguring illness, people came in droves looking for Jesus. Luke (5:16) tells us thatJesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Then, after Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, “he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13)

Just hours before he approached his disciples, while walking on the water, Jesus “went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (Mark 14:23).

And, of course, before his arrest, he had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.

When Jesus retreated from the crowds he wasn’t heading off to an adventure-filled holiday, nor was he picking up his favourite book, having coffee with a friend or catching up on social media. When Jesus retreated, he did so with one purpose in mind, to pray to his Father … seeking guidance, strength and support.

Our world is busy, noisy, demanding. Solitude, the reality of being still and knowing that He is God, is something that takes intentional effort.

May we seek our Father, when we retreat from the world around us, for his guidance, strength and support.

 

 

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How is it that you can look at yourself in a mirror every day and still not see what you really look like until someone takes your picture?

As I looked at that picture, containing myself, I realized that the image I have been seeing in the mirror for months has not been a true reflection. Although I saw the realities of the imperfections and flaws, my eyes had somehow missed the significance of just how much I have grown (and I’m not talking growth of character).

A year ago I was celebrating the positive changes that I had made to my daily life. I was walking regularly, I was eating more healthily, I was taking the time to fulfill a passion (that would be this blog), and I had lost over thirty pounds of dense, life-hindering fat.

But, the fat came back.

And now I am hanging my head.

I saw the photo that is the outward expression of my failure, and hung my head in shame, and disappointment.

Oh, I was aware that the fat came back, because I have stood on the torture tool that we keep in our bathrooms … the scales. Somehow, although the numbers where the scale would point were indicating that I had gained it all back, the reality of my sins had not become real for me until I saw myself in a picture.

What I saw was that my face was bigger, and my eyes were disappearing into my swollen cheeks. My normally big mamma arms had grown to look like those of a trucker (without the trucker tan). Thankfully I had worn black on black, so I did not have to see my stomach protruding beyond “the girls.” And my best asset (no I am not talking about my rear) was my legs, because I had shaved them, and they were silky smooth … of course THAT could NOT be seen in the photo.

After the tear fest into my pillow, I had a conversation with myself (if you tell anyone that I admitted that I talk to myself I will deny it completely, and I have sworn my pillow to secrecy).

My self said to me, “it’s been a stressful year, Carole. Last year your hubby was on sabbatical, and that eliminated some of the stresses in your life (and he was gone for about two months, which eliminated even more stress … just joking, hubby 😉 … and don’t tell me that you did not benefit from being away from me for two months!). Then, you worked through much of your summer break last year. Then you had two adolescents move into your home and family. Then you started a full time position, for the first time in eighteen years. Then your dad was dealing with health issues, and living too far away to help your parents just about drove you insane. Then there was the ‘normal’ stresses of life; money, work, marriage, kids. Your weight gain is just a reflection of the stresses in your life.”

And my response to myself, MALARKEY!

Oh, it would be far too easy to claim ‘stress’ as the reason for why the fat came back. The problem in doing that is that it removes your personal responsibility for your decisions. And it just does not make logical sense.

If I were to perform poorly at work, would my stressful home life excuse my negligence of my students? NOT!

If I were to have left my husband, because I could no longer handle the stress in my life, would my children be able to understand and forgive me? I DON’T THINK SO!

If I were to have killed someone, would the stresses in my life be a good rational for my crime? NO!

Stress does not dislocate my brain cells. I may have to concentrate more on the decisions I am making, and be more intentional in what I am doing, but I do still have the power to do what is right, and good, and healthy.

Sure, it has been more challenging to find the time to go for long walks. Sure it has been more difficult to force the multitude of things on my mind aside, so that I can clear and renew my mind and heart and soul. Sure, solitary has become almost an impossibility in our home. And, with house maintenance on Saturday, and hubby’s church-related committments on Sunday, there is an absence of a ‘sabbath’ in my life.

But, the fat came back, not because of stress, but because I lifted my hand to my mouth.

It is time for a change!

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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