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homonymnoun hom·onym \ˈhä-mə-ˌnim, ˈhō-\
: a word that is spelled and pronounced like another word but is different in meaning
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One is an active verb describing withrdrawal or pulling back to a safe position. The other one is a noun describing a time of pulling away from life or withdrawing for personal replenishment. While the verb might feel much like surrendering to defeat, either homonym for the word "RETREAT" represents a necessity in the life of a parent raising a child with challenges.
This is much on my mind today as we get ready for Snappin's overnight retreat for mothers this weekend. Despite the fact that I'm involved in the work as much as the turkey is involved in Thanksgiving, I CRAVE this time, both as an opportunity to pull back to a safe position and experience a time for personal replenishment.
All too often moms like me get so embroiled in the care and raising of our unique kids that we forget that we need care as well. In fact, that has been an impetus for this ministry since Day 1 -- to offer special care for special caregivers. I know too well the answer to the question, "While you are caring for your high-maintenance child, who is caring for you?" Most of the time, it is "No one." We go unattended to, our needs left unmet, our health put at great risk as a result of selfless caregiving.
I can remember a dozen years back, when Snappin' Ministries was in its infancy, and I was a younger, inexperienced mother of chronic kids. Our wise, old counseling pastor, Don Gephart compared my life to driving a car with no windshield at 100 miles per hour. Constantly putting arms up to deflect that which is continually careening towards me, the day-to-day life is incredibly stressful. Life was not meant to be lived at this break-neck speed without refreshment. I was meant to have a windshield on the car, and so were you!
When life is like this, it is appropriate to retreat. We need to slow the vehicle down, pull over, and withdraw for our own well-being. This requires intentionality. Pastor Don would remind me, "Come apart before you come apart."
Waving that white flag of surrender and pulling back to safety makes sense in both a temporal sense and with a more deliberate chunk of time. In either case, the place we should be running to for unbeatable replenishment is God Himself. Only our Jehovah Jireh can provide us with the peace that surpasses all understanding. He offers us internal calm in the midst of our storms, not necessarily by stopping our storms. He holds us close when life is battering us about.
Our part of the equation is quieting ourselves long enough to hear Him, feel Him, experience Him, and ultimately, trust Him. This can mean getting away to a retreat of the type we're holding this weekend. Yet, sometimes, that just isn't possible for parents like us, especially if our child is going through a season of crisis. At those times, we need to remember that restoration is as within reach as making certain we steal away with God in our living room after the kids are out the door, or in our bathroom when they nap. In this day and age, we have access to more ways to connect with Scripture or inspirational reading from the carpool line to the hospital bedside. (Check out our Snappin' App available for Apple and Android devices, for example.) Running to the LORD as we seek safety and renewal, is always our best retreat.
Tired of deflecting everything you have flying at you like I am? RETREAT! Pull aside, regroup, and be filled up by your Maker. Just as He refreshed Elijah in the wilderness (see 1 Kings 19:4-8), so God will restore your spirit for the days ahead.
PRAY: Restoring, peace-giving God, grant us Your wisdom so we know when to pull away and avail ourselves of Your shelter. Holy Spirit, heighten our awareness of when our self-care is faltering. Remind us to put our own oxygen masks on first, so we can then help our children and be the parents you intend for us to be.
~ Barb Dittrich