I attended the Beloved: Blessed is She Retreat a few months ago. The theme was based on Henrie Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved. Each speaker covered a different topic on becoming the beloved: taken, blessed, broken, and given. This retreat immersed me in the beauty of community, faith sharing, and of God’s love for each of us. If I’m being honest, though, I almost didn’t go. I was plagued with doubts about being too fatigued to make it through the day. When I saw multiple women asking online if anyone had an extra ticket, I thought maybe it would be better if another person went in my place.
One of my deepest fears is that I’m not enough, and this fear can sometimes make me feel that I don’t have anything to offer. So on Saturday morning as my husband lovingly drove me there and kept encouraging me, I prayed that God would provide me the energy and stamina to make it through the day. I really didn’t want to waste a day that so many women I knew wanted to attend.
Within a few minutes of walking into the retreat, my doubts were gone. An acquaintance from college was there and I found out she had been praying to know just one person at the retreat. I was that person she had been praying for. In an instant, my presence was affirmed and my worries went away. I was surprised that I was able to be confirmation of God’s love and support for her. I hadn’t even imagined God using me to show his love to another person there.
Seeing the Daily Blessings
The retreat organizers lovingly crafted everything with the utmost care, including floral arrangements and lit candles. Being in such a welcoming retreat space and hearing the speakers’ talks reminded me that God shows me countless times throughout the day that I’m loved.
During my time of solitude at the retreat, I sat by the ocean. While listening to the waves crash up against the shore I encountered God in countless scriptures about healing. I was also able to encounter Him in each woman I met. I was able to encounter Him at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and able to praise Him during Eucharistic Adoration. The retreat affirmed that I’m Beloved, that God made me with a specific purpose in mind, and that Jesus knows our suffering whether that be mental or physical.
Gratitude for Vulnerability
I left the retreat feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude in knowing that God is blessing us in our suffering, when we feel weak, and when we feel broken. One of those blessings is the sisterhood I discovered in meeting other Catholic women who would pray, share, and be vulnerable together. When I met these retreatants who shared their hearts, I felt an overflowing gratitude. Brene Brown says:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
In the past, I would have cringed at being vulnerable and sharing. Now, I realize how vital being vulnerable is with my spouse, with my friends, and with my readers.
How is God pouring out his love to you throughout the day?
Do you believe that you are Beloved?
Have you been sharing your vulnerabilities with others?