As soon as we entered our vacation house we were greeted by the hint of relief.
I had been anxiously awaiting our family vacation -- a couple days away without the stress of work. We were looking forward to relaxing and enjoying carefree days on the beach. Reading, writing, napping, and photographing the kids could all be accomplished from the comfort of my beach chair.
That simple pillow stirred questions deeper than what I would do on vacation. Of course I considered this vacation house on the bay a retreat -- a place affording peace, quiet, privacy, or security. It afforded us the comforts of home in a beautiful setting. The bigger question is if I am looking for a retreat or if I am trying to retreat. The truth lies within both forms.
On a basic level, I am looking for a quiet place away from the chaos of daily life. Phone calls, texts (even though everyone knows I don't like texting), kids asking a million questions, kids fighting, the radio up way too loud, conference calls, my internal to do list, and that noisy toy dump truck vanquish any hope of quiet during my normal day. I had billed this trip as a chance for me to find time for myself.
Even deeper I find my self seeking to retreat from life some times. When the expectations and challenges that face me seem daunting I start to question why we spend so much effort in our current circumstances. I dream of selling everything, packing my suitcases, and moving to Guatemala. There is an appeal to living simply and spending my days helping other people. The logical part of my mind knows that although I love going to Guatemala, I'm where I am called to be. Retreating to Guatemala wouldn't remove pressure in my life. Full-time foreign missionaries don't live glamorous lives. If they did, the pile of applications would surpass the positions and we would have reached all the nations already. My full-time mission field is right where God has placed me and the job description includes multi-tasking all these tasks that make my life so taxing in a way that is God-honoring and kingdom building.
A retreat and retreating might both be what is needed at different times in our lives. A retreat is that safe place that you can go to collect your thoughts, clear your mind, and renew your spirit. Retreating isn't all bad either. There are times when it is good to withdraw from things in your life. I can't run from my responsibilities but I can cull out the stresses that are unnecessary and unhealthy. I'm not good at letting go but there is only so much that I can realistically do and maintain some level of sanity.
Retreat -- a little more sleep, carefree fun, and the chance to enjoy our family