Sunday, March 27, 2011

Being Loved

Did you catch my PJ party on Twitter?

P.J.= Praise Jesus!

All the ladies donned their cutest pajamas as they arrived to the cabin on Friday night and we had a Praise and Worship Party!

Before we arrived we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Black Mountain Bistro:
This place was To.Die.For.  Housemade Veggie Patty atop a bed of spinach and veggies.  And Sweet Potato Fries on the side:
They had an amazing selection of animal-free dishes as well as an array of choices to please any omni.  Great place to dine with friends who have a variety of tastes.  It was a cute and local establishment and you could tell everyone knew everyone.
They were super busy (a good sign of an excellent restaurant) and the staff were super friendly and welcoming.

After dinner, we set off for the cabin on the Montreat campus.  This is a beautiful campus: stone buildings, right in the mountains, a precious little lake in the center with a beautiful white swan swimming about.  Something out of a movie.  The perfect serene location for a weekend with the W.O.W. (Women of Worship).  W.O.W. is a group of women from several area churches who come together to celebrate our bond in Christ.  This is the first group of inter-racial, inter-denominational women that I have worshipped with.  When I attended the beach retreat in the fall it opened my eyes to a new understanding of Christ's love and family.  Since then, I have considered all these women my sister's in Christ and share a deep bond and love with each one of them.

Speaking of love, love was the topic of this retreat.  Our retreats are a combination of large group worship and small group study.  We meditated on two verses and studied them in our small groups:

Deuteronomy 6:5
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We discussed what each of these verses meant, but in 1 Corinthians we focused on how this verse applies to our self love.  Consider this:

Is my love for myself patient?  Is it kind?  Is my love for myself envious, or boastful, or proud?  Do I dishonor myself and am I rude to myself?  Do I find myself angry and pressured by guilt?  Am I true to myself?  Does my love for me protect, do I trust myself?  Am I hopeful and does my love for me persevere?

Is it possible to love others as 1 Corinthians suggests, if we do not love ourselves this way?  I was convicted.  We love, because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).  And do I see myself as God sees me?  Do I show myself grace and love and mercy?  Or am I just beating myself up?  The bible does suggest that we should not think too highly of ourselves (Romans 12:3) and many Christians (particularly Christian women) find that to mean that we shouldn't love ourselves because it could be misconstrued as pride.  However, showing love to yourself does not make you a bad person and without self-love it is difficult if not impossible to love others.

Matthew 22:39
"Love your neighbor as yourself."

If you do not have self-love, how do you know how to love your neighbor?

This study hit home for me.  I feel the guilt of my actions daily.  And not a Godly guilt, an earthly, ashamed guilt.  When we sin, we are guilty, but God grants us hope through our conviction.  One of the women in my small group pointed out that if it comes from God it is always accompanied by hope...hope in the future and in change.  When the enemy lays guilt on us we feel despair.  And that type of guilt does not service God.  We cannot be sanctified by guilt, only through conviction. 

The retreat was quick, we were done at 4pm on Saturday and it was already time to say goodbye to our sisters.  Our church worshipped with many of those women at Clark's Chapel today, but Mr. Kummerow and I spent the rest of the weekend in the mountains and we did not make it to church with them.  I was sad to say goodbye.  I made several new friends but Whitney and I formed a wonderful bond despite the short amount of time we spent together.
We got pretty silly with some games at the end! The last activity was to "decorate" one of our small-group members in God's love and then we shared with the group what we learned through our study. 

On that high-note we parted ways.  Mr. Kummerow came to pick me up and we set off on the rest of our weekend adventure...

...but that's another story!

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