I’m hesitant to share this post with you, because it feels a little too vulnerable for me. Really, I just wanted to write some generic post about my time at the Women of Faith conference. But somehow, this is what poured out. So, if vulnerable makes you uncomfortable, you might want to skip this one!
Have you ever been in a place in your life where your soul just feels old? Where the weight of the burdens you’re carrying are dragging you down so far, you can’t even remember what joy feels like?
I was in that place before I left for the Women of Faith: Imagine Tour in Indiana on Thursday. But I had been praying and asking that God would reveal Himself to me.
The journey was long, but thankfully uneventful. It was precious time with my friend Crystal and the chance to forge a deeper friendship. I also had the opportunity to meet-up with Deborah from Teach Preschool on Thursday evening. I was so blessed to meet her — and she was exactly the energetic, friendly, and passionate person I expected!
Friday morning was packed with exercise and blogging and heading to the conference. And this is where I began to be submerged in a kaleidoscope of emotions. That’s the best way I can describe it.
I was listening to Sheila Walsh, and the worship team, and I felt 18 years old again. Filled with the anticipation of what God was doing in my life. Hopeful. The world was a big place, but I served a big God. And I was going somewhere. Life was whatever I could imagine. Limitless. Without boundaries.
And on one hand, those feeling stayed with me throughout the conference.
But God was also working to reveal an area in my life I thought was healed, but it truly
wasn’t isn’t. Henry Cloud talked about necessary endings and the pruning that must occur in our lives for us to move on with God — getting rid of the good things we hold onto, because they are not the best things, and getting rid of the diseased parts we cling to and the dead parts we’ve never dealt with.
I quickly realized I have my own areas that need pruning.
Later that evening, we heard from Lisa Harper. And her story tore at me, and I cried my first tears of the day. Because, you see, she shared about when her dad passed away last year and how she made it home before he died. Though her dad was in a coma, he roused out of it when she arrived. She spent sweet moments with him before he died.
She said it was a gift.
(I’ll come back to that later.)
The music of the evening was shared by Erica Campbell of Mary, Mary. She brought her daughter up to sing with her, and it was uh. may. zing. (She is just six, but the girl can sing — complete with harmony!) Afterwards, Erica sang Bruno Mars’ Just The Way You Are to her daughter. What a wonderful affirmation for a young girl’s heart.
What a wonderful affirmation for my heart!
Saturday brought messages from Sheila Walsh — she touched on her own struggle with depression and the Shepherd who found her. And then, Nicole Johnson shared about her broken life and how God is using the pieces to create something beautiful. Angie Smith challenged us to step out in faith and cling to Kurios (Lord — the one to whom I belong) in the midst of our storms.
You guessed it. I was in tears again!
After lunch, Natalie Grant sang. (Oh, how I adore Natalie Grant!! I don’t know how many times I listened to her song, Held, after my dad died, but it’s very dear to my heart.) She shared about her struggle with the baby blues after her third daughter was born, and I was taken back to my own struggle with postpartum depression. She also gave a moving tribute to those killed in the accident at the State Fair.
The whole concert just filled up my heart — and again the emotions were all jumbled together — the kaleidoscope, if you will. After hearing her sing Your Great Name, I begged God to give me the voice of Natalie Grant!
I don’t think it happened….but a women can dream can’t she?!!
Crystal and I had to leave the conference a little bit early to make our flight, but I was ready to be home and to see my husband and girls (although I wasn’t quite ready to jump back into the housework — I hadn’t missed that)!
It was on our final flight that I began to process what the conference meant to me. I’m grateful to have a wise friend willing to ask questions and draw out my introverted self — otherwise it might have taken a lot longer for me to connect the dots!
God used the weekend to reignite my passion for Him — but He also used it to show me a place I had pushed away — and pretended was healed.
(And now for the vulnerable part…)
You see, when my dad died, I didn’t get to say goodbye. He was already in a coma, and he didn’t wake up or show any recognition that I was there.
I did not receive the gift from God that Lisa spoke about and was given. And although I haven’t wanted to admit it, I’ve felt anger. I’ve felt jealousy. And the question has remained:
Why do some people get that gift? Why not me?
I remember I was teaching at the time, so I had a whole week of spring break to spend with him — I knew he was sick, but the doctors said we still had a few months. We were going to celebrate his 50th birthday, and I even had a list of things I wanted to tell him and ask him. I believed we would have a sweet, memory-making time together.
Instead, it was the first day of spring break and he was gone. I spent the whole week involved with funeral plans and picking out a casket and crying a million tears, all the while feeling my daughter kick and move inside my womb with life.
But my soul felt dead.
Seven years later, I still feel the sting — the incompleteness of the ending. I wanted to hear my dad say he loved me. I wanted to hear my dad say he was proud of me.
I wanted to say goodbye.
I look back at the conference and stand amazed at how each speaker’s words felt like they were just for me. Because, truly, God was using them to speak — to challenge and encourage me to begin the healing — and not hide the pain away anymore.
I wish I could wrap-up this post with a tidy little ending, but I just don’t have one! Instead, I’ll leave you with a precious promise from the Word of God:
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. — Revelation 21:3-4