where do i begin…i mean, seriously. where? i can feel my throat get tight and my eyes get hot just thinking about this past weekend. when my sister called me one night last october, and asked if i wanted to go to this conference with her in dallas, i thought…..”um…….sure?”. she gave me no time to decide, which honestly helped me. so i jumped in, bought my ticket to Hope Spoken, and put it out of my mind. as the day approached for us to go, i started to get nervous…no longer sure i wanted to.
see, at the conference, i heard Jami Nato speak, with great confidence and humor i might add, and when i read her blog, she said it best…”hey, remember how i’m an introvert that everyone thinks is an extrovert?”…this is totally me. my husband swears that i am not, but i’m like Jami…i’m the introvert that when i get in a space to speak i come out like i’m a total extrovert, but really i just want to duck into the little invisible brown box sitting beside me so that no one notices me. the outspoken behavior only happens in smaller groups. but i thought about the 250 women due to be at this conference, and how i would have to MEET some, and SIT with people i didn’t know! and i’m supposed to TALK to these people!?! my sister, lindsey, our friend alissa and i were laughing so much on the should-have-been-11-but-became-14-hour-road-trip, because alissa and i were trying to explain to my sister what it is like to be an introvert. i’m the awkward girl that shoves my hand IN people’s hands, really not giving them an option, because i have to get through that hump. “HI. I’M AMANDA.” (said with great force and in business voice)….
ok, so all of that to say, i started to question if i should be going. thinking about all the times i have ended up hiding in my car during a party…all the times i have run to the bathroom during “meet and greet” at a church service…all the times i felt myself wanting to melt into the wall while i wait on a far more extroverted friend to finish up her 4 million conversations with her 10 new bff’s at a music venue (big breath)…trying to figure out how i can hide or look distracted to pass the time. a conference where i am forced to meet new people? hmmm….maybe not my best impulse decision. but God knew….
i could go on and on and on about the conference…how beautiful everything was, how awesome the vibe was, the worship, the speakers. but what i want to say is that God came out in a way i fully did NOT expect. i thought, “yeah, this conference will be super feel-good, all about the hope we have in Jesus and how good he is, etc. etc.”, but these women…they gave their testimonies, and they were h-e-a-v-y. the women that i heard speak talked of broken hearts, loss, fear, and the feeling of utter hopeLESSness. not what i was expecting. but my faith was so challenged. one woman spoke of losing a child at only 11 months. “i could trust God in the cancer, the chemo, the surgeries…but could i trust God in her death?” that sentence will resonate with me. i think we forget that God comes through in ways that don’t always look like the picture in our minds. i thought to myself…do i really REALLY trust God? i mean, have i even thought about what that looks like? the first picture i see is trusting God in the semi-rough, but that, of course, he will come through….right? ……right? but what if he ‘doesn’t’? then what? is he still God? is he still my Lord? do i still serve him? what does it look like to serve him in the storms?
over the past couple months, i have been asking God to show me my purpose. if you have read my story about patience, then you know adam and i have been trying to have a baby. i recently sat with a friend and cried over feeling like i don’t know what i’m doing, or what i’m supposed to be doing. she said, “i think when you become a mom, you are just going to KNOW!”….but what about now? because all i have is now. i pray pray pray that i will be a mother, but God is holding that back from me for now….so why? one night i called out this question to him…”God, what am i supposed to be doing? what is your purpose for my life?”. his response? “to be my child”. how difficult and how liberating that answer is.
and he really drove it home at the conference. we talked about just listening…being in his presence…seeking him ABOVE all the other things….making him the thing we desire FIRST, before desiring anything else. i want this desire to be pure. i don’t want it to be something i say i desire, when in the back of my head i am still thinking “if i just desire him, then he will give me this thing i want”…
….because what if he never does?
will he still be enough for me? will i be satisfied.
God and i have a long way to go. but this was a start. and i am so so so so 100-times-so thankful for the women i met, for not melting into the walls, or running to the bathroom, for the conversations that occurred, then reoccurred, then re-reoccurred, for the small group of women i truly believe i will keep in touch with and grow closer to, for the raw emotions expressed by the brave speakers, for women who aren’t afraid to admit that their faith scares them sometimes, that they are stumbling, but always getting back up and turning their eyes towards the heavens…that we can all do this together, from different states, but from the same heart. that God has given me community.
hope spoken? hope heard.