Last fall, I’d heard my new church does a women’s retreat every year that’s a great mix of generations and people in the church. They put the whole thing on and everyone loves it. One of the organizers invited me and said this was a weekend for me to just be me. I didn’t have to lead anything, unless I wanted to.
Part of me thought…”Yes, I would love an opportunity to encourage these women in my faith community.” Then the other part of me thought, “Really? You’re going to plan the whole thing and let me be me?” I haven’t experienced a church doing this before for their pastor. Sure, I’m in.
So last Friday afternoon, I packed my bag, kissed my husband and crying kids goodbye (“Don’t go, Mom!”), and got in the car to drive north.
The retreat was full of conversation, down time to relax and chat with others, great food (so good!), prayer, times for silence, talking in small groups about different things and music.
Pastors spend a lot of time telling others they are beloved children of God. We deeply believe it. One of my biggest learnings in this first year as a lead pastor is how important it is that I’m still getting filled up by God. I’m slowly figuring out rhythms and how to schedule my life around time with God. If that’s a priority, than everything else flows out of that. There are days where that is incredibly clear and many days where it all falls apart.
So to sit on a chair in the basement of a retreat center, surrounded by 60 women who I’m coming to care for deeply, and being led in conversation and prayer by another voice…….what a gift for a pastor.
For that moment in time, I was sister. Friend. Child of God.
I was not pastor. The person who we ask to pray for us. The planner of worship experiences. The organizer of our faith community. The voice we look to for insight about faith, God and life. The one who can listen to our deepest pain and joy.
I was Jenny, beloved creation of God.
I felt carried along by the faith of this group of women.
I felt small with my inexperience of life as I looked around the room and thought of all they’d been through. I felt a little voice say, “who are you to lead these women? They should be leading you.”
That voice was partially right. God has called me to this. I’m supposed to be here.
And they are leading me. We’re leading each other. Which is how it’s supposed to be.