Author: Melanie Foreman
Prior to the Retreat for Young Women I had longed to hear God’s voice. I wondered why so many others could hear God speaking to them, but I could not. I prayed often and really tried to listen but never felt confident that what I heard was God’s voice.
I have experienced trauma and abuse in my life and at times blamed God for not being able to rescue me from those experiences. At times I wondered if my inability to hear God was because of my lack of trust in humanity and myself. Before attending the retreat, I took time off work and tried again to reach God. I still could not hear his voice, but I prayed that I could be open to whatever experience this retreat had to offer.
During the retreat we were taught many ways to reach God and hear his voice. Starting with the first exercise I was surprised that I was able to hear God speaking to me and how confident I was that it was His voice!
One exercise was particularly moving for me: Visio Divina. During this exercise we were asked to choose a photograph from an assortment of various images. I felt that one image called my name and I picked it up. It was an image of a mountain scene and it was so beautiful. The sky was a deep blue and the clouds were a bright white. The mountain range was rocky with jagged edges worn down by the elements of nature: wind, rain, sun and snow. Much of the range was marked by erosion. The foothills of the mountain range were sandy, and parts of the foothills had no growth and parts had new growth of trees. Below the sandy foothills was a forest and a lake.
As I looked upon the picture, not to critique it in any way but to absorb the beauty it had to offer, I began to realize what God was telling me. God was showing me that the trauma and abuse had left scars, but the scars were what made me beautiful. That like the mountains that cannot hide the erosion from their habitat, I could not hide from the scars of my life. I cried as I realized that by accepting the parts of my life that I felt had isolated me from everyone else, I could accept the life that I have lived, things I have done and things that had been done to me.
As I gazed upon the gorgeous mountain range I began to see how this picture held an image of my very being. I could relate my own life to the picture. My dreamy personality much like the clouds. The erosion of the mountains much like my own scars. The sandy area which at first glance has no growth, much like when I am overcome with sadness from the past, and I feel there is no forward movement for me. The forest, a fertile land, like I can be when I am creative and find solutions to life’s problems. I also can be like the lake: reflective, deep and nourishing.
I felt that this retreat was designed specifically for me and I was in awe with how confident I was becoming in hearing God’s voice. I have often felt I could not trust women; however at the retreat we were in a group and it was easier and easier to express what I was experiencing with each exercise. I began to feel supported by women and not judged. I was able to accept that other women could love me, and I could love and support other women.
I felt that the gifts of accepting myself, trusting in God, sharing with other women and the creative projects added new bricks to the relationship I have with God. I can now understand how to slow down and use the new techniques to hear God’s voice when I am praying. I have come to understand God is my rock upon whom I can trust.