From Leslie Paladino, who attended last year’s women’s retreat:
Most of us can remember a time when we were “the new kid”–in school, at camp, in sports, at church, you name it. And, we never really shake those feelings, do we? We may grow older, and more mature, developing skills to cope with the nervousness and anxiety that come with being “the new kid,” but those feelings are still there. Will they like me? Do I look weird to them? Are they going to make fun of that thing that makes me self-conscious? Will they accept me just the way I am? Do I laugh too loud? Will they see my nervousness?
Being relatively new to Redeemer and knowing nothing about last year’s women’s retreat or what to expect, I was a little nervous when I signed up to attend. In the short time we had been attending Redeemer as a family (about five months then, since May 2013), I feel like we were really fortunate to have made several friends and had gotten to know a few people; but I still had a lot of those “new kid” feelings. Now, transfer those feelings to a completely different town, and staying in a hotel with a ton of other women from other PCA churches, and rooming–no, sharing a BED–with women I barely knew. Get the picture? OK, maybe I was more nervous than I initially let on.
But, I signed up. Why? Why put myself through all that anxiety and self-consciousness? Why put myself in such an uncomfortable situation? Why not wait to go until I knew these people a little bit better to decide whether or not they are worth getting to know?
You may find it odd that when the women’s retreat was first announced last year, there was no question in my mind: I was going. I signed up, paid my deposit, and put it on the calendar, warning my husband that I would be gone that weekend; and he’d be watching the kids by himself. I was in. I was committed. Why? Why, when I was so nervous?
The answer isn’t simple, and yet it is. I am part of the body of Christ–a living, breathing extension of God’s Spirit on this earth. If I allow my own insecurities and feelings of anxiety to get in the way of experiencing the LIFE of being part of this incredible Body, then I’m robbing myself and these other women of incredible blessing.
Romans 12:4-5, 10-13 NASB For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? I want to be part of that. That’s why I went on last year’s women’s retreat, and why I will be going again this year, too.
Aside from the blessing I received from getting to know my fellow Redeemer sisters better and sharing in prayer and worship together, I was incredibly blessed by the worship and teaching of women I had never met before! In a word, Nancy Guthrie’s teaching was A-MAZ-ING! I could listen to her exposit the Word of God for hours and hours. There were times my heart was a little overwhelmed by the beauty of the worship and the teaching and the beauty of God’s creation that was literally right outside the large conference room windows.
My feelings of being “the new kid” were not going to go away on their own. And I wasn’t going to feel any less of a “new kid” by not going on the retreat. Missing out on this shared experience with the other women in our church would only have made me feel more like an outsider. But going with them and sharing with them in this fun, worshipful, surpising, encouraging experience was such a blessing to my own spiritual journey and to my relationships with the other wonderful women in our church!
Join us at this year’s Palmetto PresWIC retreat in Myrtle Beach on October 3-5, 2014!