My husband and I just came back from a four day retreat with our church in Yosemite, and it was just completely amazing. Several really awesome things happened there, and I wanted to share them with you.

First of all, I learned so much about God. I realized that God not only knows me 100% and completely, inside and out, but he accepts me. Like most people, I have walls that I put up to keep others out. Those walls are built up in levels; there is a level that I let my friends past, another level that I let my small group past, and the second to last level that I let Cory past, for example. The very last wall is like a thin sheet— and inside of that are my innermost thoughts and feeling. Nobody can get into that deepest level of me because nobody can read my mind or fully know and understand me. Nobody except God, that is.

I learned that even though I sometimes pretend that God doesn’t know every last intimate detail about me, he does. There is nothing that I can hide from him. In fact, he knows me better than I even know myself. But the great thing about that is the next part; he accepts and loves me for everything that he knows about me. Having a friend who accepts and loves you for who you really are is a great feeling. Having a relationship with Jesus is like that to the millionth degree!

Another really awesome thing that I learned about God this weekend is that he is constantly accessible. Honestly, it was more of a reminder than anything because I already knew that, but I really soaked it in on this retreat. I was struggling with feeling that I don’t really have a best friend; don’t get me wrong, my husband is definitely my best friend and I also have a few very close girl friends that I absolutely love. But there is something to be said for having that one person who isn’t your significant other and who’s like a sister (or brother if you’re a guy) to you. I used to have that, and I miss it. And even though God doesn’t really qualify as a sister to me, He is one person who is with me through everything, deeply understands and accepts me, and who I know I can call on at any time of the day or night. He actually is the best friend any person could have! And as it turns out, all of those songs I’ve been singing about Him are true; He is all that I need. Other things like a wonderful husband, close friends, and relationships with family are all awesome and super important. But strictly speaking, I don’t need them. All that I need is God, and He will never leave me. So I’m pretty much set! Anything else I get on top of that is a bonus.

Another awesome thing that happened during this retreat was that Cory and I got to fulfill one of the purposes of marriage; being an example of Christ’s love to others through our love for each other. Several people commented during the trip about how great they thought it was that we were on the retreat together, supporting each other and growing spiritually together. But the best part for me was when Cory got sick. As funny as that sounds, him getting sick allowed me to take care of him, and other people on the trip noticed and were surprisingly impressed by that. I say “surprisingly” because I find it interesting that people are surprised when a wife takes care of her husband. I mean, shouldn’t that be a given? But anyway, several people were impressed by how I took notes for him during the service that he had to miss and went to check on him in his cabin before going to bed. Even though these were little things that took very little effort on my part, and were quite natural considering I love my husband, I was still happy to be an example for others.

I’ve saved for last the best thing that happened to me on this trip. Plain and simple, God changed my heart. To be honest, before this I’ve always been a little bit secretly anti-social. As in, I really did not enjoy being around people who weren’t my friends. In fact, I pretty much hated it. Any time I had to spend time around people that I didn’t know very well (or at all), I dreaded it. Parties, social gatherings, and even family functions sometimes were all no fun for me. But something changed in me during this retreat, and it basically boils down to this; God loves every person.

If God loves each and every person that I come across, then I should too. At the very least, I should find it to be a pure gift when I can do something nice for somebody. Just think about it; something as small as smiling at somebody or saying “hello” can brighten their day in ways that I don’t even know. As a Christian, I know that God puts people in my path each and every day who desperately need Him, just hoping that I will be loving enough to reach out and help. And when I do, I am fulfilling my God-given purpose in life. What could be more thrilling than that?

My life looks a little different now that I’ve returned from the retreat. For one thing, I talk to God constantly throughout the day now. I like to think of it as text messaging Jesus. He is my best friend after all! Why not be in constant communication with Him? Another thing is that I’m more joyful. I feel more aware of everything God has blessed me with, and I experience joy when I thank Him for those things. I can look at life more on a day-to-day basis, focusing on how I can live for the Lord today instead of on what I’m not looking forward to or what I want for the future. Living in the present makes me joyful!

Last, I have a greater passion for people. I see the desperate need that people have for Jesus and I want so badly to bring them to Him. There is just no life compared to life lived with the Lord, and there is no hope for the world or for eternal life with God without Jesus. I so badly wish that I could convince more people of that. But of course, that’s not my job; my job is just to show them Christ’s love, share His message if they are open to it, and let God do the rest. But I think that the greatest thing I learned in Yosemite was that my role is important. I can do something. I can love others. And that is something that I never want to underestimate again.

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