top of page
  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Step by Step – The Ragamuffin Road

Well it’s been a month since the retreat…a month this weekend to be exact. In some ways it seems like yesterday and in others it seems worlds away. I feel like at times I have my Ragamuffin friends on one side and everyone else on the other trying to figure out ‘what is this Ragamuffin thing?’ So let me try to help a little. Because it is a SIGNIFICANT turning point in my life. I will identify with it for the rest of my life…I hope. And I don’t want to leave you behind. I know some may not ‘get it’ and that’s OK. But I want to try to at least explain a little…to give a small window into the freedom I’ve found. And the freedom I am now trying to live in.

There is a daily fight to hold on to all we learned. And it’s not been easy. Trust me…the enemy of our souls has taken a HUGE one on the chin and he’s not liking it and he’s making that known. For all of us who were on the retreat.

We expected it. We talked about it the week after the retreat. We have a safe and private space on FB where we can just hang out, be real, and support each other in our struggles to live a reckless, maskless life. Where we can share the things we may still hesitate to share…or questions to ask…or steam to blow.

What I love about the Rag Room (as I call it) is the incredible and immense support for each other from a group of other Ragamuffins who ‘get it.’ And what is it we all get? It’s hard to explain yet it’s simple: authenticity.

I think that is one of the biggest things we all took from the retreat. We let the walls down. The performance walls of ‘I’m OK’ when I’m really a mess from the hurt and confusion in my life. The insecurity walls of ‘what will they think of me if I tell them what I REALLY think?’. The fear walls of not stepping out in faith for fear of failure or rejection or any of those other things that keep us down. We realized that all those walls – and so many more – are really subtle traps from the enemy to keep us from being the fully functional and God honoring believers the way HE designed us to be. We had subtly put ourselves on the throne. Or, as my pastor who would share a Tim Keller quote would say…we de-godded God. We put our affections – for safety, security, acceptance – ahead of what God fully wants to do in us and through us. In short…we realized our sin….and we repented.

But we not only repented in words…we redirected our paths. That’s the sign of true repentance. We pointed our feet in a new direction. Let go of the baggage and got a sampling of what it means to be FREE! I think the biggest phrase I’ve learned to be at peace with after the retreat is simply this: “and that’s OK.” There is such peace in that! It’s OK to not have the answers (and take off the mask of having it all together). It’s OK to question (and take off the mask of being the superfaithful one who doesn’t doubt). It’s OK to say “I hurt” and let it out in its entirety (and take off the mask of being OK with some very hurtful experiences that others think we might need to be ‘over’). And it’s OK to just BE…to let God hold me and not have to have the words or ‘do’ something…to just crawl up in my Daddy’s lap and let Him hold me and love me….just because.

When I went into the retreat all I can tell you is all of the above was simply ‘wishful thinking’ for me. Good for everyone else but not for me. After all…I was the ‘holy exception.’ God’s promises didn’t apply to me because I screwed up too much. I was too far gone. That’s what the enemy had brought me to believe as truth. WRONG! DEAD WRONG!

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly at the retreat pushed me over the edge to let go. It was a lot of things. Ultimately it was God fighting through and making me tired of being tired. I remember Saturday morning writing in my journal “Just slay me Lord. I’m done. I’m so broken I don’t even care anymore. I don’t care THAT I cry. I don’t care if others SEE me cry. Just slay me. Today.”

Now, true to character, God did it in a marvelously gentle way that exuded His love for me. It was very sweet and precious and a milestone in my life. It was an Ebenezer moment that will hopefully change the course of the rest of my life.

And that’s where the Step by Step comes in. I’ve likened what I’m experiencing – what I’m struggling through – to an addict learning to live clean and sober for the first time. I’ve seen that in 2 of my family members so I have a very small window to that analogy and certainly mean NO disrespect to anyone in recovery. What I mean by that analogy is this: we’ve all learned to cope with the crap of life through different things. For me it was through the walls which resulted in SO many things….shutting off emotions, an eating disorder, masks galore, hidden insecurities eating me alive….because I didn’t deal rightly with things….especially emotions. So now that I’ve let go of that baggage – that way of life – now that I’ve quit stuffing what I’m thinking or feeling and am instead learning to express myself in new and appropriate ways….there is obviously a lot of fear that comes with that. There is a new way of thinking I have to get my head used to. What was an automatic response to hide and stuff now takes a LOT of mental and emotional energy to recognize the old pattern trying to pop up, interrupt it, choose the new response, and train my brain to remember this new choice. Try that over and over again 50 or more times a day for a month and tell me you’re not tired.

And that’s where I am right now…a little tired of the fight. And having to fight through how I used to respond to even that part of things. So a fight within the fight. In talking with my Ragamuffin friends about it I’ve been so encouraged with their responses and support. Turns out a lot of them are struggling with the same thing. Like I said, the enemy of our souls is not happy and he’s making it known. And that’s OK. And what really blew me away was when they said my openness with my struggles encourages them that they’re not alone! WOW! And I was even concerned with sharing with them – the ones who will ‘get it’ – and look what happens! Yea…I’d say Satan is at work all around. But we realize it. And we keep fighting. And we know where to go to get the extra push when we need it.

So what’s the Ragamuffin Road? It’s a beautiful journey – different for each person. We continue to process the events of the weekend, and if we tend to gravitate to our new friends more than our other friends right now….just give us grace for that. We’re not isolating ourselves (trust me…even in the room if we don’t hear from someone we’re checking up on them). Give us room to keep pounding out what this new life – to whatever degree it was for each of us – means and how we’re supposed to operate in this new world that quite frankly excites us and scares us to death – all at the same time. We don’t have the answers…and sometimes we may just need to sit in silence and stare into space….and if you are privileged enough to share that moment with us – that sacred moment – look at it as just that – a sacred moment of trust – because we feel safe enough to be real with you at that moment. Don’t rush us out of it. Don’t even press us for an explanation. Just be, and accept, and when it’s right – when we finally find the words – you will be one of those that we think ‘gets it’ and will be one of the ones we run to so we can share.

Join us on this road…this Ragamuffin Road….where we’ve realized how broken we are and have let go of our self preservation to let the ‘reckless raging fury that they call the love of God’ flood the deep crevices of our hearts that we’ve protected all this time. It’s a ‘process’ (man I used to HATE that word!) and can’t be rushed….but you can share it with us. We’d love to have you on the journey. We NEED you on the journey. Part of this Road is to live in community – that means family and friends and church. So we’re not isolating ourselves from you…we are just letting God continue to touch and heal the broken places we’ve finally let Him into. It’d be our honor to have you join us on the journey.

For more on the Ragamuffin Retreats that will continue in 2015 go to: The first retreat of 2015 is in Wichita, KS in March and there is a $50 discount if you sign up before January 1. Other dates have not yet been announced.

And as always…I’d love to field your questions about the retreats and how God used it in my life. So me or leave a comment and I’ll respond on the blog. Thank you.

Be God’s.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page