(Re)treat Yo Self

“When you work, Jesus rests. When you rest, Jesus works.”

Jack Frost

A clean house. Zero responsibilities. No drama. Remember the part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where his “small heart grew three sizes that day?” That’s how I felt during my first ever personal retreat earlier this week. I’ll give you a rundown so that you can plan out your own staycation. (If you can’t do it in the next month, maybe soon after the chaos of the holidays has ebbed?) When we begin to see time for personal care as an investment rather than a waste, sabbath can move back into our schedules—and with it, the renewed energy, joy, and peace that result from doing life God’s way.

Schedule: I included all of the things I needed most in this season of life to help me decompress and reconnect with Jesus. This was a loose, flexible agenda that just served as a guideline. Items on it? Worship, creativity, chick flicks, reading, a long walk by the river, spa stuff, baking, and celebration. I didn’t rush myself or pay much attention to the clock at all, which was a glorious change of pace for me.

Ambience: Candles, twinkle lights, and too much gold to suspect a man lives here. Really good music. And my favorite scented wax (sugared lavender twist) in the burner. A collection of cozy things (heated socks, little wood plates, a favorite throw pillow, snuggly blankets) accumulated in the retreat area and lent themselves to the relaxing atmosphere.

Food: I went with a mix of comfort (sausage and cheese balls, a maple cinnamon roll) and healthy (one of the fancy salad kits from Walmart, a pitcher of lemon cucumber ice water) with a couple of retreat snacks thrown in (hello, dark chocolate!).

Other tips: I wanted to do as little work as possible during the actual retreat, so this necessitated some prep beforehand. Laundry, dishes, tidying up, shopping, and making the bed with fresh sheets—check. I added an element of fun by buying a cute pair of retreat pajama pants and hanging streamers and banners around the living room. And I cranked up the heat to a comfy 70 degrees. (Because, hey, a few degrees can make a world of difference for this girl!)

It’s a silly way to express what the retreat did for me, but I felt like a capital T. Beforehand, I was in Arial font, precariously balanced until a good wind would come along and blow me one way or the other; then I’d topple over. My getaway allowed me to change fonts. I now have the balance granted to Times New Roman letters from a sturdy supporting serif underneath. Look how much harder I will be to blow over now! (Like I said, silly, but hopefully understandable.)

Please don’t wait until you’re on the verge of a strong-winded breakdown to prioritize your emotional health. A three-day retreat might sound daunting; I get that. Start with a couple of hours and work your way up from there. Make the space in your life to say no to busy so that Jesus has room to work.

Because the world really is better when we aren’t operating on too little oxygen for our souls.

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