Last week I took a first ever four-day Silence and Solitude retreat all by myself. My body was tired, my soul was dry, and I knew I just needed to be with Jesus. I shared a couple weeks ago how I made the decision to take this soul care retreat.
As an introvert, I looked forward to the alone time. Still, though, I worried about being completely alone for four days. I admit being a little stir crazy the second day, but that soon subsided as I embraced the reality that I really wasn’t alone.
I chose to simplify life for those four days in order to really focus on Jesus. A four-day juice fast helped me step away from food but not nutrition. For two of the four days I also fasted from driving, social media, computer, and make-up (loved the freedom!)
My first day I napped three times! Can you say tired? Oh. My. Goodness. Three naps…and I still went to sleep that night! I found myself sitting and staring….a lot. Talking with God in short thoughts. Reading my Bible and then falling asleep. “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
In fasting from driving, I fell in love with walking. I walked to the store. I walked on the beach. I walked and prayed. I walked and did lots of thinking. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
In fasting from the computer and social media, I turned to the Bible more and more. I picked up and read one (short) book of the Bible. Then another. By the end of my four days I had read ten books of the Bible. My soul was finding it’s sustenance in God’s word. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord…” Jeremiah 15:16
In fasting from food, I removed distraction from my head and my heart. I experienced a break in cravings that I often fight…even in my clean eating journey. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
In time God began to whisper single words to me:
I returned home refreshed like never before. It was a spiritual reboot I’m grateful I experienced.
Now as I’m back into the rhythm of life, the challenge is finding ways to keep those whispered words a regular part of my life: rest, breathe, slow down, depend, reset.
I’m finding that taking a deep breath can immediately change my body’s response to stress. I’m finding an earlier bedtime is providing the rest I need on a regular basis. I’m finding that putting less on my calendar is bringing balance back to my life. I’m finding that placing my challenges in the hands of God quicker is increasing my dependence on Him. Finally, I’m finding that I need to be intentional about “rebooting” each and every day with God’s word because this gives me His perspective throughout the day.
No one can care for your soul but you. You may have little ones clawing at you every hour of the day, but they need you to practice the art of soul care in some way. Maybe it’s taking the first 15 minutes of naptime to breathe and rest. Maybe it’s scheduling one night a week to head out without kids and go to the library to read. Maybe it’s meeting a friend for coffee and praying together. Maybe it’s a few minutes of memorizing God’s Word every morning.
Four days was a rare experience of heaven on earth, but four minutes is what you and I have to find each and every day to breathe.