Identity is a difficult thing to find in today’s world. On Jan. 13-14, Northwestern women were given the chance to explore the question of who and what forms their identity. The women’s retreat was held in two sessions at First Reformed Church, which allowed young women to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of classes starting back up. The first session took place on Friday night with an optional overnight stay into the second session on Saturday morning.
One way this question of identity was examined was with a panel of women ranging from a recent NW grad to a mother from the community. “We bring in women from different seasons of life,” said Resident Director Caylan DeLucia. “It gives them (attendees) a well-rounded view of identity since a mother with eight kids will look different than a recent graduate.”
Emma Hansen, a student attendee, agreed. “It’s a good time to step away and learn from women who have done life longer than we have and hear their wisdom,” Hansen said. The panel discussed how to trust God when things do not go as planned, and how being chosen by God trumps everything else you may identify with.
Another topic addressed during the weekend’s discussion was the comparison of identity. “God gave you your specific gifts and talents for a reason, and that person theirs for a different reason, and that’s okay,” Hansen said. A big part of knowing your identity is knowing that there is no need to compare yourself to others.
The retreat also included times of individual worship, group discussions and personal stories from speakers Martha Draayer and Elizabeth Pitts.
Sessions were not all about heavy topics, though. The retreat was also aimed at building community and helping these young Christian women to find others like them to build them up and walk through life together. It gave students important opportunities to build community and meet people they might not have met otherwise.
Organizing the retreat was a joint effort between the women of the Residence Life and Campus Ministry teams. When choosing a theme, they looked at what would resonate most with the women of NW. This year, they discussed how frequently the topic of identity came up in everyday conversations and how much benefit there is to be found in grounding students in the fact that God gives them identity as His workmanship.
“Women are always asking questions about who they are and what they’re going to do with their life. This serves as a grounding experience to remind them who they are and whose they are,” DeLucia said.
Though short, the time away from campus over the weekend served as a time of encouragement for both students and staff, reminding them how to be rooted in the Lord and be intentional about worshipping and following Him.