Much like a lot of the fun on this site, I didn’t come up with this idea. A friend of the site emailed me months ago and said “You know what we Christians love to do? Break up with our girlfriends and boyfriends after a retreat.”
I thought that was funny and true. Next to unpacking, dumping your boyfriend or girlfriend is the best thing to do upon arriving home from a weekend retreat. (Throwing away all your music or movies is pretty fun too though.)
What usually happens is that on Saturday night, which is the cryfest night where the minister really amps up the emotion, you are asked to “lay something down for God.” God wants something. And often the most immediate something you can think to give to God is that dude you’re dating. So you go home after the retreat and you dump him.
But what if you’re that dude at home? What if you’re the girlfriend that didn’t go on the retreat? What if this is a relationship that could really work out and be great but it instead gets blindsided by what my friend would call a Saturday night session of “sloppy agape?” How do you prevent this from happening if it’s actually a good relationship worth saving?
I thought of a few ways:
1. Go on every retreat you possibly can.
Resist the urge to go to a Beth Moore ladies only retreat dressed as a woman, but other than that, you better go on every retreat your girlfriend goes on. (How awesome would it be to get the Wayan’s Brothers of White Chicks fame to make a movie where a guy dressed up like a woman so that he could sneak into a Beth Moore retreat? We could call it “Moore like a lady.” That idea is free by the way. Go ahead, take it.)
2. Meet your significant other at the church when they get dropped off.
With flowers or gifts or Myrrh if you can find it, it’s kind of out of season. Seriously though, wherever the drop off spot is for that retreat, go there. Bring a boombox like John Cusack in the movie “Say Anything” if you have to.
3. Leave a kind note in their Bible.
I’m not encouraging you to manipulate your boyfriend, if you don’t have something kind to write on a piece of paper you probably shouldn’t be dating this guy anyway. But if you do, if you’ve got some nice, loving words to put down, hide that note in his Bible. On the retreat, when he digs in to read it on one of those, “please go find a quiet place to read your Bible by a pristine lake” moments that are mandatory on retreats, it will be waiting for him.
4. Don’t call them a million times during the retreat.
Relationships are kind of like sharks, they can smell fear. If you call or text or twitter or send pigeons one million times to your girlfriend during the retreat, here’s what you’re going to be saying to her, “Please don’t dump me. Oh good grief, please don’t dump me. Seriously, don’t dump me. We can make this work. I’ll call you back in 30 seconds, please don’t think about dumping me during those 30 seconds when we’re not on the phone. Please.” As a girl, which I’ve never been and am thus wicked good at writing from the perspective of, that would make me instantly think, “Should I dump him? Things were good before I left for the retreat, but he’s all panicky. Maybe he knows something I don’t know.” Give your girlfriend or boyfriend space on the retreat. Let them enjoy the weekend with God without your constant interruptions. Unless you are going to make my movie “Moore like a lady” and then let the hijinx ensue.
If you follow these tips to the letter, if you execute them perfectly, you’re still probably going to get dumped. What can I do, the “give something up for God” moment on a retreat is too powerful for a mere mortal blogger to overcome. My hope though is that if you do experience this, if you are dumped after a retreat, you’ll remember this post, wipe your tears away and be able to laugh at the irony of the whole situation. Or you could always email this post to your ex-girlfriend with the subject line “Our love just became a Christian cliché,” and burn that relationship bridge while driving away listening to Poison’s “Every Rose has it’s Thorn.” Either option is pretty nice actually.