I saw a t-shirt recently that said, “Introverts Unite! Separately, in your own homes.” I love it. I didn’t buy it because I’ve been told I already give off a “leave me alone” vibe even when I’m feeling extra friendly. (I’m actually a nice person; we should be friends).
It was inevitable that I would inherit my mother’s and grandmother’s aversion to women’s retreats. Growing up and into young adulthood, my vision of a women’s retreat was watching Beth Moore videos while knitting or creating some other sort of craft in a large group. I can do both of those things separately and in my own home. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I attended a retreat and began to see the value of stepping out of everyday life to focus on my relationship with God, as well as building a community. A community that supports, sustains, walks with me when I need company on my journey, and provides opportunities to serve and give back. I began to crave that kind of community and saw how a retreat, done well, builds that foundation for so many. Still, due to my history of cynicism, I feel unqualified to tell you why City Church’s upcoming retreat is worth your time. I asked Kaiolani Siregar, a City Church member since 2014, if she would be willing to share about her retreat experience and thankfully, she agreed. Here she is, in her own words.
“I attended one of the retreats shortly after moving to Richmond for grad school, something that felt like a very temporary period, with a clear beginning and end date. I had also only just started going to City Church a few weeks earlier.
I was encouraged to attend the retreat that year and, not knowing what to expect, I had some reservations. I had never been involved in a church before, I had just moved to Virginia a month or so previously, and I didn’t see myself staying in Richmond much longer past the time when I would finish my degree. But my first impression of City Church had been so unconditionally warm that I felt at ease with the decision to, once again, just show up.
Taking part in the retreat showed me that talking or thinking about God isn’t reserved specifically for Sundays or even only allowed in a specific building. I found that I could show up with more questions than answers. And it showed me that attending a retreat, or even being part of a Christian community, doesn’t have to have a clear beginning and end date. You can show up for the first time, whenever that time is, if you’ve gone to church your whole life, or even if you don’t have a clue what people do in something called a 'small group.' Most of all, I found that strangers that I met at the retreat, aren’t strangers at all anymore, and that’s pretty great.
I can’t say that my experience would be like anyone else’s and I think I still have more questions than answers–a retreat is only one part of being in community, after all–but I do know that the warmth I felt at City Church on the first day I showed up hasn’t changed.”
Please join us in January. Life is richer in a community. Let’s be together, and occasionally outside of our own homes.