“Lack of community. I believe this is the reason for most of our problems,” explains Shelly Corbin, who has hosted a cabin at the HCBC Women’s Retreat for several years. This belief is based on her experiences that at one time or another, all of us have dealt with the sensation of feeling like just a face in the crowd. Whether it is at a child’s soccer game, while stuck in traffic on the way to work, or at the grocery store, it is amazing how feelings of isolation can overcome us even when are in close physical proximity to people.
While we feel a certain amount of camaraderie being in the same spaces as others, the fact that we are still unknown to the great majority of those around us can be a haunting facet of life that points our hearts towards something more heavenly - the relationships that drive us towards a more truthful understanding of how to best love ourselves, families, neighbors, and Creator. For Shelly, that peace and life momentum is waiting to be found in a retreat alongside the community that God has made for us.
On a personal side, Shelly feels called towards serving in the Women’s Ministry because of her inspiration of Jesus’ retreats to be alone with the Father (Luke 5:15-16). Following Jesus’ examples of self-care, she enjoys the freedom and responsibility she has to seek her own emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. As a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, Shelly is a caretaker in her day-to-day life and has found the Women’s Retreats to be a place where she can really recharge her own batteries through prayer and by unplugging fully, spending time in the quiet of God's creation.
Shelly also finds it noteworthy that Jesus not only chose twelve disciples to be out and about in ministry with, but to also to engage them further in retreat and prayer (Mark 6:31). At the most recent Women’s Retreat, she served by leading a cabin of 17 women ranging from the ages of 30 to 76 years old. Diverse as it may seem, Shelly recognizes that “things that women must deal with with in this life do not discriminate. We all, no matter the age we are, have struggles.” From broken relationships, anxious indecisiveness, all the way to crippling disease, her cabin mates all laid down these sorts of worries before one another and the Lord. In this way the retreat has shown Shelly “what a blessing it is when we allow God to put amazing people in our lives to walk with us in the valleys and on the mountain tops.” She ultimately saw prayer and encouragement radically change the lives of many women as a result of the retreat, creating life-long friendships and a deeper confidence in the Lord.
“Imagine if we all surrounded ourselves with godly women that spoke truth into our daily lives and how we parent, love our husbands, and care for others would change. What a perspective-changer it is when we allow God to surround us with community that does life with us. We were never meant to do this life alone!”
One specific instance from the past retreat holds most dear to Shelly. In attendance was her 36-year-old daughter, a single mother intensely desiring a godly man to be her partner in life and all of its ups and downs. For her daughter, this was not a casual wish. It was a deep emptiness in her life that made her wonder and fear if God wouldn’t ever provide the man she hoped for. Entrusting this frustration with her cabin mates, she vulnerably shared her struggle and was met with intentional prayer and counsel to find contentment in waiting. When she walked away from the retreat with peace as opposed to bitterness, she was more fully satisfied to wait joyfully and find her contentment and peace in the Lord instead. Eventually, God did open her heart up to a godly man, and her mother is elated to know that her daughter may be marrying him soon. Shelly knows it is a bond made possible by God and encouraged by the prayer of the truth-seeking women her daughter met while taking a break from the everyday to connect and grow with women of God.
Shelly recognizes that taking a weekend away from families, friends, and the ever-present responsibilities of life is no small feat for many women. However, she knows that all women can gain something from the experience. She is so appreciative of how the Women’s Retreat offers opportunities for socialization and quiet alone time with God, believing that it exists for those who find themselves leaning towards both extroversion and introversion.
At the end of the day, the retreat has taught Shelly how important and impactful it is for women to be in community together. “Women need women,” Shelly emphatically states. “Imagine if we all surrounded ourselves with godly women that spoke truth into our daily lives and how we parent, love our husbands, and care for others would change. What a perspective-changer it is when we allow God to surround us with community that does life with us. We were never meant to do this life alone!”
In this light, she has seen how attendees have gone from knowing no one at the retreat, to communicating with their cabin mates through social media, to actually making plans to meet and spend time with one another throughout the year. Because of this, Shelly excitedly shares that any woman without community is welcome to join hers at the Women’s Retreat. And this all because she has seen many draw closer to the Lord by way of community with other women, wholeheartedly embracing life with new sisters in Christ by their side