Why Christian women should prioritize spiritual retreats
over booze cruises with friends
Several years back I took a cruise to the Bahamas. We boarded the boat in Miami, and then went out to sea for a couple of days before we stopped at our first destination. I remember thinking how far we must have gone by the second day, only to discover the cruise ship was actually just sailing in circles to allow us time to enjoy the activities on the boat. We could have made it to our first destination in just a few hours. It seemed absolutely preposterous that we would get on a boat and sail in circles for days, but the focus on a cruise ship is not your destination, it is to be entertained and relaxed on the journey.
For so many reasons, women love to get on cruise ships, be catered to, and forget all about their life back home. I can’t tell you how many women I have asked to go to my retreat, who say they just couldn’t possibly get away, only to later see pictures of them on a girlfriend getaway to the beach, or the mountains, or you guessed it, on a cruise. Wine glass in hand, and comfortably riding on their “cruise ship.” But, the longer you are on a cruise ship the more likely you are to have a cruise ship mentality. A cruise ship mentality is a desire to be comfortable, taken care of, well fed, and catered to. On a cruise ship your biggest concerns are your own personal comforts. The opposite of a cruise ship mentality is a battleship mentality, in which you focus on survival, doing what needs to get done, protecting others and yourself, staying on the course. When you enter into a cruise ship mentality you no longer care as much about where you are going as you do about the ride along the way.
It is no surprise that we have time for what we make time for and for what we prioritize. As a crazy busy mother of four children who are all in sports and activities, and a wife of a husband who is heavily involved in ministry, I know how hard it is to get away. However, because I have learned to prioritize my weekend retreats, I am now able to fit four retreats into my year. I see more and more women prioritizing time away with their girlfriends, which I am absolutely an advocate of. Please see my post on 8 reasons why women should get away with their girlfriends. However, I find that most of these trips are purely recreational. Whether it’s laying on the beach, going shopping, or out for drinks, most of the activities I see women doing together don’t necessarily help them with their spiritual and mental health. In fact, I think a lot of these trips lead to trouble because they produce women who value their recreation more than their overall health. They offer opportunities for women to fall into sin, and they give us a cruise ship mentality, which is hard to overcome when returning to our real life.
When we spend time doing things that allow us to further hide from the struggles we are facing, we are simply turning to false-comforters to avoid making lasting positive changes. False-comforters are one of the topics that we address at our retreat. They are the things that we turn to, to comfort us, rather than to heal us. These can be a large array of things for women, but some common ones are food, exercise, shopping, drinking, or binge-watching TV. The problem with these false-comforters is they only offer temporary comfort, and often lead to destructive addictions. Don’t get me wrong, they usually do comfort you for a season. However, they do not bring the long-term healing that is needed.
Girlfriend getaways, when they are not used to draw us closer to the Lord and each other, can be dangerous false-comforters. While they serve the purpose of giving us downtime and a reprieve from a busy life, they may actually be producing some destructive long-term thought processes. If our time away from our husbands and kids is not used strategically to help us better love our husbands and kids, we may end up believing that life is better without them. If our time away with our girlfriends gives us a false sense of happiness, we may believe that ending our marriage and investing more time in our girlfriends will be better for us in the long run. By spending time drinking instead of processing through what is making us so stressed, we can develop a desire to escape our problems through alcohol. When we simply getaway and feel better, we can be planting the idea in the back of our minds that the reason we are unhealthy is because of our family and jobs. This can leave us with a desire to run off and a dissatisfaction with being around them. The desire for a cruise ship mentality can overtake every aspect of our life and leave us dissatisfied with how things are going.
Women who prioritize escaping their everyday life over solving their problems, are at risk of developing a cruise ship mentality in all areas of their life. People with a cruise ship mentality will often be heard saying things like, “I deserve to be happy,” or “It just wasn’t fun anymore so I stopped going,” or “It was just too hard to fit into my schedule.” If you are saying these things, I want to caution you that these are the emotions that come right before collapse. The words that are said by women who stop attending church, who leave their husbands, who get a boyfriend on the side. While it may seem like a big leap to say, having been a women’s pastor for many years, I have seen women begin to spiral down this path when they shifted their focus off of their destination and onto their journey, and started focusing more on how to comfort themselves over making a better self. Getting away on a cruise ship, without recognizing that what is being offered is for our temporary comfort, can encourage us to develop negative thinking about our everyday battleship lives and lead to dangerous addictions.
I am not saying that it is never okay to take mindless breaks from your everyday life and do things strictly for recreational purposes. However, if you are hoping to fix your marriage, your dissatisfaction with your job, your frustrations with your children, your depression, or your spiritual health while on a cruise ship, you will be hugely disappointed. Likely if you try to solve these things while cruising, you will come back resenting the very things you left to find healing for.
Ideally, if you are going to get away with your friends, you will be going to something, that gives you time and space to grow into a healthier you and allows you to connect deeper with each other and God. Whether that is a women’s retreat, conference, or a self-planned weekend with purpose. I encourage you to not squander the time you have with your girlfriends. I would encourage you to dive into a deeper relationship, and come back a happier, healthier, and closer friend, for you and for your friend’s sake.
I know the idea of doing something like this can feel exhausting and at first glance for the time and money it would take, you would rather just do a booze cruise with your best buds, but trust me when I say that going away and temporarily forgetting about your problems, will be far less effective, memorable, and healing as if you go away and try to work on them together. Start being more intentional and do the things that will lead to a better you. The next time you think you just need a little time away from it all, I would encourage you to ask yourself, who are the people I want/need in my life, and how can I get away with them in a strategic way that will allow me to come back a healthier, happier, and more connected version of me and hopefully her as well. Trust me, it will pay dividends far beyond the short time invested.
And please, please, stop saying you don’t have time for these things, because you do have time for things you make time for. If you don’t take time to make a better you, then you may end up needing more than just a weekend away to address what is going on in your heart and mind.
If you have not looked into the Awakening retreats that Alia and I put on, please do so. We spend a lot of time throughout the weekend giving you time and space to hear from God, to find healing, and address your whole self, mind, body, and spirit! It is absolutely a great thing to do with your closest friends!