To integrate our study we were to choose a partner for whom we would create a 48 hour silent retreat. We used the dynamics we learned in class to draft a personal interview (see Retreat Questionnaire) and use that information to prayerfully structure a retreat for them to meet with God. We also spent time in prayer together, talking over areas through intentional questions of life-history, vulnerability and value. The interview incorporated things like:
- Transitions and New Experiences
- Social and Home Life
- Basic Needs
- Focused Intimacy with God
- Experiential Knowledge of yourself
Keri and I chose to be partners for multiple reasons, but the main one was that we wanted to press into these things honestly and deeply in our marriage (which is a big reason we're in this program at all). And, having someone who knows our struggles by experience, allows the issues prayed over on retreat to bear in honesty and practice in our daily relationship. Who else better to help you ask God the tough questions, and to be a place for the answers to be worked out than your spouse?
Here is a piece of our retreat and our reflections from our time at Mary and Joseph Retreat Center, in Rancho Palos Verdes....
A passage of Scripture written into my Retreat to meditate on was Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Marriage has been a wonderful experience of drawing closer to Jesus and Him showing me His love in deeper and intimate ways. Yet, my devotion to Jesus as my first love has been challenging to grasp how to have “two loves.” Though I see how God has brought Dave and my union together, I have also wrestled with personal relationship with Jesus and relationship with Jesus through marriage. That being said, using a long set aside time to journal/process and discern with Jesus was so wonderful... Through the guided questions and “holy tangents”, God led me down various paths of discovering where my heart has been, where He has been, and some of the deeper issues lurking. Not realizing I was writing so much, I ended up with 24 journal pages of prayer, filled with questions, unexpected tangents, and times where He spoke. In the end, I did not feel like anything had been solved, or an answer was given that guided me towards the next step to take, but rather I received merely a peace “that surpassed my understanding” (Phil.4:7). I had a peace knowing that God knows my heart, He can handle all of me, He validates me as His child, and all He was asking of me was to just be. Simply going through the journey lifted some burdens, tuned little parts of my heart more to Him, and reminded me of the sweetness of extended time in His presence. As we learned in class, Retreat is a time of “rekindling the love of our first love.” What a blessing that this was my experience.