And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Truth Retreat

When my kids were little, I used to leave them with my husband every once in awhile and head to a town an hour away from here for a little quiet time. I resisted the urge to shop and do errands and instead headed to the local university library. There I'd go down into the basement, find a nice quiet spot, and spend some time with God.

I usually had some agenda besides my quiet time. Some truth agenda (this was back in the early days of my truth journaling). What I would do is pick an emotion or a subject (rejection for example), and I'd go back into the past writing down significant memories. The list might be ten or twenty items long.

Then I'd truth journal through the list, one memory at a time. I'd write down what I was thinking at the time (it's surprising how much you can remember), and then I'd apply the truth to those old thoughts. If it was a bad memory, I'd picture God with me in the midst of the memory and imagine what He might say to me about that memory.

Sometimes I realized that I hadn't handled those past situations the way God would have wanted me to handle them. When that happened I thought about what I should have done in the situation I was remembering - not in a beat-myself-up sort of way, but in a reflective way. I hadn't really planned on doing that but for some reason it seemed to help the healing process.

I only did this a few times, but I remember them being wonderful times with God. Now my kids are older - only two left at home - and the house isn't as noisy as it used to be. I don't need to leave home to find a quiet place to spend a few hours, so I don't think about going on retreats. But I went on one anyway a few weeks ago, and it was just as delightful as I remembered. This time I brought a friend.

I picked her up around 8:00 in the morning, and we headed for that same university library I used to go to - only this time we went to the fourth floor and found some nice comfy chairs in front of a couple of windows.

My friend started in on her regular quiet time, while I asked God what He wanted me to go over that day. In the past I'd always had a plan, but this time I didn't have anything in mind when I got to the library. So I prayed for a bit, and God seemed to be directing me toward working on my people pleasing tendencies.

I thought back through my past (which takes a lot longer now that I'm nine years older!) and wrote down some memories of times when my people pleasing tendencies caused me to make bad decisions. It was an interesting experience. In the beginning, I was just thinking it would be an interesting thing to look at, but as I went through my list I realized I had a much bigger problem than I had previously realized!

Someone once said that she could feel God pouring out truth through her pen as she truth journaled. I feel the same way, and God was really pouring out the truth that morning. It was a delightful exerience (although the next day when God gave me an opportunity to put what I'd learned into practice, it was far less delightful!).

After a couple of hours at the library, we walked downtown for a bit and had lunch at a Thai restaurant which was fun and yummy. We took another walk by the river and then headed into a coffee shop for another round with the past.

This time it was my friend's turn to get poured on by God as she started her own look at the past. We sat on a cozy leather couch drinking our lattes, writing in our journals, and sharing our hearts with each other when we couldn't see the truth on our own.

Our last stop was the public library. More time in the Word, more journaling, and more talking it over with God. We finally headed for home around 4:00.

It was an amazing day of fellowship, growth, friendship, and truth. I wanted to share it with you just in case any of you might want to try something like this. You could have a subject in mind when you begin the day or just ask God what He wants you to go over once you arrive at your destination. If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes!