The Urgent Care Your Soul Needs to Restore Your Peace

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If you can spend a whole day or weekend shopping, why not plan to spend a few days with God?
If you can spend a whole day or weekend shopping, why not plan to spend a few days with God? (Thomas Griesbeck)

This is not a "nun for a day" program. It is an intimate time hanging out with the one who knows you better than anyone else does and who loves you like crazy. Try thinking of your personal retreat like a spiritual spa. Doesn't that sound inviting? For a day or two, you check yourself into a place to rest, pray, listen to God, feel His love, take a walk and enjoy a nap or two.

While most women I know would drool at the opportunity to have even an afternoon off from their responsibilities, somehow the notion of actually making it happen can be somewhat intimidating. Beloved women of God who would not hesitate to take a day of shopping if someone offered often have a hard time taking that very same time to go on a retreat. Perhaps it's because the concept seems so mysterious. But the rewards of a retreat last much longer than the new items purchased at the mall.

Sure, a lot of women can get by without a personal retreat. But are you a "get by" girl or a "go after" girl? Ladies, we are responsible for our own spiritual practices. Our pastors, our husbands, our moms and our friends can't make our renewal happen. Just as it's up to us to read our Bibles, only we can orchestrate a day or two away with Jesus.

"Where do you do this?" you might ask. That's certainly a common question!

Many venues can work for a getaway with God. The essential component is space to be alone without interruptions. If you are on a tight budget, a convent or retreat facility usually fits the bill for anonymity and few distractions. Check the website or call ahead to see if they serve meals and if special requests can be accommodated. Do they have a fridge available for you to bring your own meals? Is there a place to walk? Is silence the norm? A Google search can provide links for retreat centers.

Sometimes you might prefer a hotel-like environment. A dear friend of mine waits for the winter hotel specials in Chicago and plans her retreat for that time. I discovered a charming bed-and-breakfast about an hour's train ride from my home that became my retreat venue for a few years. Silence was not to be had, but there was a lot of quiet.

For a no-cost retreat, consider asking a friend who is gone during the day if you can use her place, or trade homes with a friend for a weekend. When my children were starting morning programs in school, I asked a neighbor from church if I could use her apartment for a morning retreat while she was downtown at work. I didn't have the luxury of an overnight or even a full day, but the change of venue and close proximity created just the place I needed.

An outside retreat at a public garden, large park or on the beach can work in the right kind of weather for a shorter retreat. Bring along something comfortable to sit on and create your own sacred space.

One word of caution: Staying home to retreat may seem like an ideal solution, but if possible, get out of your house. Too many distractions of undone chores, ringing phones and chicken to thaw out for dinner can derail the best of plans.

Picking the day and place are the first steps, the rest can be filled in later.

Next time you find yourself on your way to that urgent care for the soul, try taking a detour into a personal retreat instead.

Letitia Suk is an author and life coach who is passionate about helping women create a purposeful life and experience the fullness God offers. She has served as a hospital chaplain for nearly a decade and is a sought-after speaker for women's events and retreats. Suk has had more than 100 articles appear in various print publications and is the author of Rhythms of Renewal and Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat. Suk lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Tom. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

Learn more about Letitia Suk, at letitiasuk.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (letitia.suk.author) and Twitter (@letitiasuk).

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