Retreat – The act of withdrawing, as into safety or privacy; retirement; seclusion.
We all know what a fast paced society we live in. Because it can get so crazy at times, the word retreat can sound like music to our ears.
When I’m feeling pressed in from all sides, sometimes I just need to check-out, to get away. I need a retreat. When I do this, I’m literally retreating from all the demands on me and instead surrounding myself with peace – well at least that’s the goal. And when it happens… ahhhhh. It’s a beautiful thing.
But, there’s also another type of retreat, an inner retreat that I can find myself escaping to… It’s sometimes good, and sometimes, well… it’s not so good.
When Dave and I are fighting, I can easily find myself walking out of the room when the conversation gets heated and takes a turn I don’t like. He’s hit a button and a fire ignites in me. Sometimes in my anger, I’ll retreat. I’ll go into my shell and not come out for the rest of the night.
If a friend makes a choice and I allow my feelings to be hurt by it, sometimes I’ll retreat. The friendly phone calls and texts stop. I’ll back away in silence. Sure, I can excuse my behavior as “self-preservation,” but that only gets me so far. After a while, it will become obvious that I’m purposefully withdrawing from a difficult situation – simply because it’s easier for me.
But what about the other person? What about the person I’ve decided to close the door of communication on?
How do we decide when it’s okay to retreat?
When is it healthy withdrawal – and what’s simply an avoidance of something that needs to be worked through?
For me, I’ve got to go back to the basics of my faith. Is my choice to retreatbased on healthy reasons? Because if I’m doing this out of retaliation, no matter what excuse I use, it’s a wrong move. Yes, I can choose to separate myself for the sake of peace, but only with keeping the hope of an end result of unity, not division – at least as far as it depends on me anyway…
Another question I ask myself when trying to decide to retreat or not is this:“Will the outcome of the situation I’m retreating from improve or get worse as a result of my absence?” Am I just taking a breather to get my thoughts together, or am I actually attempting to manipulate the situation? Am I using silence to protect the relationship – so that I don’t say something that later I may regret? Or am I actually using my silence to punish my offender by shutting them out? Since sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference – I must be willing to non-emotionally take that hard look at my own actions and motives.
Sometimes, what I need to do is build a bridge…even when I mostly feel like burning one down!
In this crazy world, yes, alone time is very necessary to nourish my spiritual self. But, my safe seclusion, can easily turn into my personal prison if I don’t keep an eye open to return to the path that leads back to community.
Because we are innately designed for connection, it’s never good idea to keep others at bay for too long.
So, when I do choose to retreat to my own little island… I must always remember not to become one!
“Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name.” Psalm 74:21
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.” Romans 14:7
“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you.”
2 Chronicles 20:17