This weekend I was privileged with the opportunity to go on a women’s retreat with my church—thanks to my father-in-law who helped make this happen and my dear husband who became Mr. Mom for the weekend.
As most moms feel, it’s hard to get away. I almost didn’t go because there are so many demands on me right now and a break from it all seemed impossible, but it was the best thing I could’ve ever done!
I spent the weekend in a quaint location with cabins around a small lake with 15 other moms who were each facing there own unique challenges. There’s something healing in hearing their stories, being encouraged by their victories and shedding tears for their sorrows. But one of my favorite experiences—to my complete surprise—was a mandatory 4 hour period of silence on Saturday morning. There was no talking, no electronics of any form, no musical instruments, just the sound of the wind across the lake and the small voice of God which repetitively told me, “Be still and know that I am God.” I was also reminded of God’s promise that no matter what happens in my life, He will never leave me nor forsake me. As I sat alone surrounded by nature, I felt a peace I’ve rarely ever experienced and as I returned back to the cabins to end our period of silence, I couldn’t help but smile. It really was that good.
Another highlight was how God seemed to put just the right people into my life. Within 30 minutes of arriving I met a kind woman who quickly shared her story of being a pastor’s wife. I shared with her how my 10 year old son has felt called to be a pastor and how he believes that God will use his challenges with his brothers to help others someday since he’ll know what it’s like to go through hard times. The woman then asked about his brothers’ challenges and I explained that my oldest had bipolar disorder and my youngest is being assessed for autism. In response, her face lit up and with a smile on her face she said, “I have bipolar disorder—and look at me, I turned out just fine!” She then expressed that she was an open book and would love to talk more.
I then met my roommate for the first time, a woman new to our church and after a few conversations I found out that she too was struggling with her children. I was able to share my story and encourage her that things do get better. At the end of the retreat she expressed with tears in her eyes that she felt God had blessed her in having us meet.
I love how God loves us. How he uses our pain, our struggles and our victories to help one another. I love knowing that God has placed people in my life to help me through the darkest times and how God is then able to use my story to do the same for others.
If you’re reading this now and you’re alone in your suffering, I encourage you to seek support. Even if you’re not connected to a religious group, you need to find a group to support you through this journey. It’s extremely common for families with children who have special needs to become isolated from every aspect of society just to survive the day. But that only takes you so far. Eventually you’ll burn out. You can’t do this alone. You need to seek a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. I promise you that you’ll find strength in others.
If you too have found support, please share with us where you found it and how it’s helped you. I hope we can encourage one another.
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