“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.” (Jer. 29: 11)

Bethesda Workshops was blessed recently to take part in a guided Visioning Retreat for our board of directors and some others closely associated with the ministry. The facilitator led us to think first about what we’re doing well – what is working and positive about Bethesda Workshops. As part of that list, someone mentioned that we are a healthy community, and we paused to unpack what that means.

The group focused next on what we can do better as we move forward. What do we need to do that we’re not doing or how can we improve on something that’s already a part of the ministry? Based on the feedback many of you offered before the retreat, one key area we want to focus on is developing better connections among our alumni. We identified other growth points like marketing, fundraising and better organizational long-term planning to support our growth.

Eventually, the facilitator considered all our big sheets of notes taped across the walls and helped us synthesize them into some clear initiatives that will form our short and long-term plans. We discussed how to prioritize the goals, many of which are inter-connected and overlapping. More important (for me, at least) we took a step back and recognized that achieving our initiatives will be a process, not an event. It’s not going to happen overnight or even in the next 12 months.

Going through and now reviewing this process reminds me of our discussions about vision at each Healing Workshop. The principles transcend any specific setting, of course, and are applicable to individuals as well as groups.

What are you doing well? What’s working in your life? Those are the standards that are important to maintain. What does it mean to you to be healthy? As Alice in Wonderland said, if you don’t know where you’re going, than any road will take you there. Are you travelling a path that will lead to your vision?

What challenges do you face that impede your growth? What do you need to do more of or differently? What will it cost you to make those changes? Are you willing to pay that price?

While it’s energizing and motivating to think about your vision, it’s important to be gentle and patient with yourself as you walk it out. You can’t tackle everything at once, and in fact, attempting to perfectly implement your plans is a sure set-up for discouragement.

Ask God to remind you of your vision and consider what it might look like to move toward it today. Then trust God and trust the process.

Marnie C. Ferree