By Stori Long
Between school, work, relationships and homework, balance can be a difficult thing to achieve. Baptist Student Ministries took students on a retreat last weekend to Balcones Spring, where leaders encouraged students to take a step back from all their responsibilities and worries in an attempt to find balance. This retreat was specifically focused for sophomore students, said Nancy-Page Lowenfield, graduate assistant for Formations-BSM.
“A lot of research shows that sophomore year is often the most confusing and stressful,” Lowenfield said. “It has a lot of changes going on, and I think second-years really need to find balance in their life.”
Rio Vista sophomore Ty Gist said he agrees with these sentiments.
“I think getting into the sophomore year means you get into a lot of your heavier and more intense classes,” Gist said. “Lots of times when this happens, your spiritual life and your personal life start to get strained.”
In order to help the students on the retreat achieve balance, the event focused on allowing the students to have a weekend of peace without any major obligations.
A lot of free time was offered, and students took the time to explore.
“I loved being immersed in nature,” Celina sophomore Taylor Epps said. “We had the chance to go kayaking, canoeing and hiking. It was just really cool being in nature that we had the freedom to participate and be involved with. If we saw a tree we wanted to climb, we could climb it. If we wanted to jump in the lake, we could jump in the lake.”
The Baptist Student Ministries leaders on the retreat led different talks the students could attend.
The talks focused on ways students could step back in their fast-paced lives and reflect, such as spiritual disciplines and different forms of prayer from contemplative to more imaginative prayer.
Trip leaders said they wanted the retreat to be a chance for students to reflect on their needs.
“We really wanted this to be a time for students to practice self-care,” Lowenfield said. “We are supposed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and until we are able to take care of ourselves, we aren’t able to love others.”
The retreat left students wanting to think more about decision, some said.
“I would say the biggest thing I took away from this was how to reflect,” Gist said. “It helped me learn how to step back from big decisions and ask: I could take this on, and it might be good, but will it help me have balance? Will it spread me too thin and make it impossible for me to do anything well?”
Beyond this, the retreat allowed many of these students to take a break from their demanding lives.
“Right now my life is stressful with a lot of deadlines and work,” Portland, Ore., sophomore Ann Dearing said. “It was really calming just to get away, and it helped give me a new outlook for the rest of the semester. Plus, just being in God’s presence is refreshing.”