When I attended my first freedom retreat, I began in earnest to inspect the situations and actions of my past. I discovered the various barriers that I had created to protect myself. Unfortunately—or, perhaps, fortunately—these same barriers were obstructing my relationship with God, so eradicating them would mean a new freedom that I had no idea existed.
During the retreat, I inventoried my life. In doing so, I had two valuable realizations. First, memories of drug and alcohol abuse within my birth family bounced back into the forefront of my thoughts. I was ashamed and embarrassed by my dad.
Second, onlookers of my life might say that I’ve had great success in my career, my marriage, as a mother, daughter, and sister. Yet, my dad’s perfectionist expectations and the withholding of praise and affection still caused me to feel like I could never measure up, particularly to his vision for me.
I was once and for all ready to face this hard truth that had affected me so deeply. In much the same way that I removed myself from my father’s life, I was resisting a deeper relationship with God. Unlike my dad, God was perfect and loved me as a Heavenly Father. The more I embraced God’s love, the more my bitterness towards my dad dissolved. Inside I shouted, “Yahoo! Hallelujah! God loves me, no matter what.” Joy filled my life as the burden lifted.
I returned multiple times over the next ten years to that freedom retreat. Each time, I discovered a new insight embedded deeply about myself, another truth that needed to be freed. Once I refocused on God’s love and forgiveness, I realized that I needed to forgive in other areas of my life.
I’d blamed God and others for my wrongful actions and negative thoughts, as well as the hurtful actions of others. I thought I’d already forgiven my mom; however, I worked to release any residual bitterness. I even forgave God. He didn’t need my forgiveness. It was me who needed to release the bitterness that unforgiveness harbors. Finally, I forgave myself for the years I’d missed out on my relationship with God.
One time, I released my need to perform for God. At another retreat, I recognized I was not an accident, and my days were ordained in his book (Psalm 139). I also came to learn that God had a purpose for my life, greater than anything I could imagine.
When I joined the staff at FP4H, we developed the freedom retreat. We recently rescheduled our 5th freedom retreat to September 20-22, 2020, Restore Me: Making Us New & Setting Us Free. Have you attended a freedom retreat? Do you need to pursue the next level of freedom? Are you ready for restoration? Join us https://www.sandycove.org/events/restore-me-2020/introduction/
Helen Baratta, Director of Development for First Place for Health. She facilitates the Level 3 Membership Level. She is the author of My Place for Leadership included in the My Place Leader’s Kit and Restored! Embracing Weight Loss God’s Way available at our online bookstore. Helen encourages everyone to embrace change and say “Yes” to all God has planned.