I went on a retreat this weekend. I feel like that should be followed by some sort of exclamation. "Woot," perhaps?
Those of you who know me personally know that it's a little difficult for me to get away from my kids. Even when I go to my beloved aerobics classes, I start to feel that tingle of missing the boys after just an hour. By the time I'm in the shower I simply can't wait to see them again. I long to get home to stick my nose in Zion's soft hair, to smile at Harvey and see his eyes light up as he smiles back. To say that I love my kids is a lame understatement. It's more like every hair on my body is specifically magnetized to point towards my children. I am a spinning needle and Harvey and Zion are North.
So when a friend asked me to accompany her on this retreat, it was just the barest amount of obedience that made me say yes.
Never mind that I've been telling myself since June that I need a retreat, that I've been emotionally drained, that I've been spiritually exhausted, that GOD TOLD ME TO GO. I had to convince myself that it was work.
On Friday morning I was so nervous about leaving my kids that I cleaned the house from top to bottom. Then I washed all the clothes and diapers, and folded all the clothes and diapers, made lunch and dinner and frosted cupcakes. Then I ate all the lentil salad I made for dinner because I was stressed. And when I exhausted my ideas for domestic work I researched miniature cow breeds on the internet. Spoiler alert: we can't get a miniature cow without a acre for pasture. So boo. But hey, it distracted me for a few minutes from thinking about how much I was going to miss my precious beautiful angels.
Friday night away from the boys was awful. I kept thinking of Zion's soft hair, which I know sounds like an insane stalker thing to say, but it's soooo soft! I couldn't wait to get back to the house to sleep, even though the prevailing thought among my retreating peers is that it is insane to drive and hour back and forth from a retreat center just to sleep in your own bed. Silly adults. What the don't understand is: I have two kids. I very rarely sleep in my own bed.
Happily for me, Harvey woke up three times in the night and Zion woke up once, so by morning I felt ready to take a break from them again.
Early the next morning I explained to them what would happen that day. I would go to church and come home after they fell asleep. They would go to Grandma's house and then out to dinner. Zion got a little sad but was quickly distracted with legos. I had to hustle out of there if I was to drive the hour to the retreat center in time to get breakfast, but I also felt the moment was momentous in some way. I was about to leave them for 14 hours, longer than I had ever left them before. So I put a hand on each of their heads and said, "The Lord bless you and keep you."
"Oh Mama," Harvey said as if he was rolling his eyes, "I don't need God. I'm going to Grandma's house!"
In many many ways my life lately has been lived out like Harvey's statement. I also have said to myself, in so many different ways, that I don't need God. I don't need God because I'm drinking probiotics. I don't need God because I've got the house cleaning down to a schedule. I don't need God because I've been pregnant before, because everything I'm feeling is just hormones, because my feelings aren't that important anyway.
The problem is that this line of thinking is probably sin. Or to put it in a way that sounds less judgmental, it's probably stupid.
I do need God, a lot in fact. I need him to moderate my relationship with my children. I need Him to show me how to love them without showing them how to be crazily codependent. I need him to force me to take a little retreat once in a while. I need him to love me so that I have any love to give anyone else.
I need him to see my inmost fears, to see when I conquer them, and to answer with a "Woot."