This weekend was hard. I’m going to write a little about it today and tomorrow, and then go back to the stuff you are used to reading. But if you are at all struggling with where you are supposed to be or what you are supposed to be doing, I hope this installment may encourage you, or at least let you know you are not alone.
This weekend I met incredible women with unbelievable testimonies. These were not the speakers. These women I sat next to at breakout sessions and lunches and coffees. I cannot even count the instances in which I had no words in response to their stories. Women came to the SheSpeaks! conference to learn about speaking or writing to reach others for Christ and shared these stories:
She was sexually abused at the age of 5 and then again in elementary school;
She lost her husband and youngest son in a car accident;
Her son “came out” to the family as gay and her husband disowned the son;
Her daughter’s biological father slammed the door in the daughter’s face the night she found him (which was also the same night the mom was at the conference);
She was abused her whole childhood so she had to find hiding places in the house to escape;
All three of her teenage children died;
She had adopted 14 children, many with special needs;
Her father was murdered and after she found Christ she began a correspondence with the murderer in prison and forgave him; and,
Her child was suffering from or recovering from cancer.
These are not all of the stories. These are but a few of the 650 stories there. I stood in amazement that these women were not sitting around bitter or suicidal, but rather surviving and wanting to share God’s love with others. They wanted to do something positive out of the horror or the struggle. They willingly shared their heart wrenching stories. They would relive the pain in order to help someone else. Maybe many someone elses.
These women’s stories not only inspired me, they shut me down. Who was I? What on earth could God do with me? He clearly did not need me. This roomful of women had much more compelling stories and could do much more good. They were clearly called, so I would not be needed. After 13 hours of conferencing on Friday, I shut down that night. I didn’t even know if I would go to the conference the next day. I called Bray and said, “I’m out.” The combination of seeing people I believed were more worthwhile or useful to God and the overwhelming information about the “business” made me decide in an instant to stop trying. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even think I wanted to anymore.