If anyone reading this knows me, they know I am all about retreats! I love to plan them, attend them and staff them. Retreats are just my thing. I have encountered some beautiful spiritual growth, amazing people and have become a part of a huge, supportive and prayerful community. However, many people have said that retreats are “just to get the Jesus high” or “nothing great ever happens on retreats.” I am here to tell you how my experience has made me truly believe in the power of retreats.
Retreats do truly take on their own life form once they are in motion. I have seen many people’s lives transformed in just one weekend: but how? The quick answer is God. But I am not here for the quick answer. Retreats are a unique experience. You go to a place away from the world where there are no distractions. You put away your phone and leave the rest of the world going while you hit pause. This is vital to spiritual growth. Every once in a while, our spiritual batteries need to be recharged. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of how great our faith is and which areas we can improve. Sometimes, we just need to feel God’s love and presence. Whatever the reason may be, retreats are necessary. I know many may not feel like way, but I am a true believer in the power of a retreat.
The best way to experience a retreat is to go open-minded. Being open to what message God wants to give you is key to a great and fulfilling weekend. Every once in a while, we need to take time to listen to God. Many of us practice this in our daily lives. However, with the distractions of technology and the busy world we live in, this is not always easy and we may not be truly listening to what God wants us to hear. We all lead busy lives and a retreat is a good time to escape.
After an amazing weekend retreat, there is the whole “returning to business as usual.” This can be difficult after a newfound message from God or increased spiritual happiness. How do you go back into a world that did not just retreat with you? After many retreats, my best advice is prayer. Do not let the world get you down. Pray that God will lead you in the direction He needs you to go in. Pray for courage to share with others what you gained from the weekend. Stay in touch with others who made the retreat with you. Pray for a better prayer life. Pray for whatever it is you need and be ready for God’s answer.
Retreats are important. Whether it is a life-changing experience, or a refreshing weekend away, retreats can help you boost your faith life and increase the people in your life who share the same ideas and beliefs. I encourage everyone to find time to go on a retreat. Whether it is with the Diocese of Memphis, your church’s young adult group or somewhere else, I encourage you to find the time to recharge your spiritual batteries so that the world can seem a little bit lighter.
-Maggie O’Neill is a regular contributor to our blog. She’s been attending retreats since high school. She staffs in the IGNITE young adult retreats for our Young Adult Ministry and Awakening retreats for college students across the country. To date, she’s staffed 17 Awakening retreats and counting.