My Retreat Experience. Or “Stop.Listen.Be.Still”


God is calling me to be still.  And its probably the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted to do in my Journey with Jesus (JwJ).  I mean, even my example picture for this post is the ocean!  The ever-moving, changing, active, lively, OCEAN.  Tranquility, relaxation, peacefulness, are all perhaps associated with sitting on a beach, staring out at a beautiful sunset on the ocean… but stillness?  You can see, I have a lot of work to do.  Maybe this message came just in time

And it just so happens, I received this message to be still– and got to practice– at Christ Life’s annual retreat a few weeks ago.  Coming into the retreat, I knew next to no one (I’m what we would call a newbie, in this fabulous bunch-o-peoples).

Normally, this isn’t a problem, because I’m pretty much your classic Extrovert (although I do introvert it up- more on that some other time).  But as I’m running around Thursday, then Friday, trying to deal with a car accident (minor), car rentals, doctors appointments, and oh yea, working with upwards of 120 kids afterschool, packing, and figuring out which of the 7,000 books/things I could bring to “work-on-me” at the retreat, I kept having this thought make its way to the front of my brain- “What would it be like if you just stopped and listened?”  and then “be still“.

I’ll confess.  I still brought 6 “work-on-me” books to Retreat.

But arriving in Waynesboro, PA, to the beautiful retreat site, I heard it again.  “Stop.Listen.Be.Still”.

I was going on this retreat to meet people!  I desperately wanted to get to know EVERYONE..  I wanted to talk about Jesus!  I wanted to talk about Catholicism!  I wanted to talk!


So I crept as ninja-like as possible (when you’re walking through the front door) into the meeting area that night- arriving late to our talk because of work obligations, I am resolved to listen. to be still.

So this is what I heard.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

And I loved that it was pointed out– not when we were done perfecting ourselves, not after we did everything right, finally, but while we were still sinners, Jesus got up on that Cross, and saved our souls, through his death (and resurrection).  And not just that one time, 2000-ish years ago.  The power of Jesus’ love for us is seen EVERY TIME WE SIN.   The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion are the physical ways Jesus’ Forgiveness and Love can be received, for each and every time we (continue) to fall short of that Kingdom of Heaven life we are called to live.

“Open the floodgates, and let my Truth pour into your heart”

So saturday started with a pretty awesome confirmation of God’s calling for me to listen for his Voice and be still.  Morning Prayer time.  Like a good ole quiet time (with a few guided scripture verses and questions), followed by a group discussion (oh no! i’ll have to talk!).

You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve misplaced the scripture and questions (someone leave them in a comment?)

But I did write down my thoughts.  Which basically was God saying “stop trying to plug up the holes in your heart!  Let me fill them for you!”  You see, I firmly believe that Jesus is my Savior, that died and rose again for me, that left us with the instruction manual based on his life on how to Love others and find the Kingdom of Heaven here in the present world.  Fully believe that.  100%… okay, most days ;)

What I have the hardest time with (aside from being still, and writing short blog posts), is believing that God can fill those holes in my heart made from insecurity, loneliness, and the other experiences of this world.  But both in my quiet time and my time (mostly) listening to the other women in my group speak I discovered two things.

1)Duh, I am not alone in these feelings (why do we constantly get amnesia about the fact that others can actually relate?) and 2)I cannot hope to help fill the lives of others with Christ, until I let Christ fill the deepest darkest holes in my heart.

Are you still with me?  Good. :)

The last thing I’m going to share about what I learned from Listening and Being Still is this– We are all blessed with the gifts of God.  They come freely to those who ask for them, and we are meant to be in community with other Christians because together we can use our gifts to love on the World.

Thats basically a summary of Saturday evening and Sunday Morning, with as little verb-iage as possible.

So… Did I succeed at my “Stop.Listen.Be.Still” Goal?

For the most part.  I did check facebook, once.  I did talk in my small group, when I felt I could add without going on and on (kinda like this blog is doing).  I DID get to play for a good 3 hours in the pool with some of our retreat kids.  Which is another long story on how God uses his (literal) children to fill my spirit with joy.

And I did enjoy an awesome bonfire with smores and fantastical people, all searching for their own ways to connect to Jesus.

So I guess in all my practice listening and being still, God also still honored the extrovert-very-unstill part of me, in a way that was honorable to Him.

He’s Good like that.

<3 Olivia


One thought on “My Retreat Experience. Or “Stop.Listen.Be.Still”

  1. I’m just getting around to reading this… thanks so much for sharing, Olivia!

    loved this… “I have the hardest time with… is believing that God can fill those holes in my heart made from insecurity, loneliness, and the other experiences of this world.”
    “I cannot hope to help fill the lives of others with Christ, until I let Christ fill the deepest darkest holes in my heart.”
    Great truth!!

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