How a Delight Retreat Taught Me to Say Yes to God (Pt 1)
Since joining the Delight community in 2013, checking into the Facebook group has become just as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth! Even though I hadn’t met any of these girls personally, we were connected by our desire to follow Christ and our common creative interests and similar day-to-day lives. In fact, it was by interacting with these passionate, talented girls that my own dreams of pursuing photography grew and blossomed. But more importantly, to see girls my own age and even younger let down their guard and be open and real about their lives, fears, hopes, and struggles was like a breath of fresh air to the girl who always sought and yearned for deeper, more meaningful connections with people. Prayer requests, hilarious threads, and testimonial videos flew around on a daily basis, and pretty soon I was checking into Facebook for Delight more than anything else!
It was soon after this that I joined the local New York City Delight group, led and organized by Kerri Hamm. I’ve been blessed with several godly mentors in my life - my own parents and older sister Katie especially, but the genuine love and interest shown by our “Big Sister” Kerri also left a meaningful impact on me. Here she was, happily opening up part of her life, her time, and herself to girls she didn’t even know that well. But she had a calling, a burden, a vision, and a love for us, and in her heart there was an apparent underlying YES to God, whatever that yes meant or required of her. Kerri’s joy, her love for Christ and for her life in there here and now, inspired and challenged me.
Could I say that same kind of brave yes to God someday?
I hoped I would, when and if God called for it.
At around this same time, the first Delight Retreat was held in Washington state, and a new dream of mine was born.
I wanted to be there.
I wanted to meet the people I’d chatted with and come to know in the group. To have the heart to hearts, the shared laughs and tears, the inspiration and know-how to pursue my creative interests. But most of all, I wanted to feel the apparent movement and working of the Holy Spirit for myself at these Retreats. The girl’s testimonies after attending Retreats, workshops, and intensives over the years bore witness to this. They all arrived one way, and they all left another. Each one stirred or convicted or refreshed or restored. Bottom line, something special was happening, and I wanted in on it. But as each Retreat came and went, I knew it wasn’t the right time. So I held onto this dream.
Then, in February last year while scrolling through Facebook, the latest Delight blog post appeared and stopped me. “What Is A Delight Big Sister?” by Hope Bridgman. While reading about the loving, dedicated mentorship and discipleship role of a Big Sister, my pulse quickened and I felt that unmistakable good internal “pressure” only the Holy Spirit can give.
“Being a Big Sister is not only about loving these girls everyday, but it’s about speaking truth into the girls’ lives and meeting them exactly where they are... Now is a crucial time in the girls’ lives, and they need to know that they are loved, fought for, understood, and have a safe place to be real and vulnerable. We want to see them not just survive, but thrive in who the Lord has specifically, beautifully, and purposefully created them to be. We need women who can come alongside of them to help them grow in the Lord and know that they are precious and honored in His sight! (Isaiah 43:4).”
Before I even got to the end of the article, I knew this was my YES moment.
And I struggled. God was asking me to say Yes to Him and no to staying in my comfort zone, and it would require God’s grace and strength. Because while I was stirred and burdened and loved these fellow Delight girls of mine, the truth is I still felt inadequate and weak and unsure of myself and my fitness for the task in that moment. But God kept saying,
“Forget about yourself and trust Me. Just say yes, Bethany, and see what I will do.”
I couldn’t ignore Him. Before the night was over, I was emailing Hope and filling out the Big Sister application. Wow. When you obediently say yes to God in the face of your own fear, beautiful things will happen. And so they did.
Fast forward to September. Word about the first East Coast Delight Retreat in October had been out for a few weeks and there were still spots available! Deep down I’d pretty much given up the hope of going to this one too with the way my present finances looked and the approaching deadline looming ahead. But one night, as everyone in the group was talking about going or wanting to go, I prayed aloud, “God, You know who YOU want to be there. And if it’s Your will for me to finally go, somehow, someway, make a way open for me. But I’m leaving it in Your hands.”
The next morning my heart still felt sad and burdened, and my family took notice of my downcast face. I finally told them about my real desire to go to a Delight retreat, but not being able to afford it right now. And when my dad actually offered to pay part of the cost for me, in my pride I struggled to accept his kindness for a few seconds.
But God once again whispered,
“Be humble and say YES. Let your father bless you with this good gift.”
Pride sure can keep a life smaller, and I didn’t want mine to keep me from seeing the beautiful God wanted to do. I graciously accepted, and excitedly texted my news to Kristin Wall, the founder and head leader of Delight. What she said next blew my mind. “I have been sitting here praying about it all day... and the reality is that you are a Big Sister and really should come more as leadership than an attendee... You are more than welcome to come as an attendee, but I also want to let you know that I feel like maybe God desires you to come as leadership - and that wouldn’t cost you. Let me know your thoughts!!!”
Well, my happiness quotient went through the roof. (And wouldn’t you know, three hours later all the attendance spots were filled)! God can do the seemingly impossible in no time at all!
I went from nearly hopeless, to hopeful, to happy, and on my way to fulfill a longtime dream, all because I chose to say no to my fear and pride and say,
“Yes, Lord. Do whatever You want.”
Bethany Beck is a 23 year old sentimental at heart and old soul, living and loving life in New York City with her large, close knit family. She was first introduced to Delight in 2013, became a Big Sister in 2016, and recently fulfilled a long time dream by attending her first Retreat a few months later. She's also a seasoned PK, a sister to 6, doting aunt to 5 + counting, homeschool alumni, happy nanny, and the treasurer of her Brooklyn based church. She dreams of being a wife and mom, a professional photographer, writer, traveling the world, doing missions and humanitarian work, and simply desires to be the the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she is! Instagram: @bethanyclare_
Images by Janelle Putrich