Monday, August 16, 2010
SheSpeaks - Nailed in the Bullseye of my Brokenness
I'm still processing the events of my first SheSpeaks Conference that I attended in Concord, NC a couple weeks ago. There simply are not enough descriptive words available to express the sheer amazement that I felt upon leaving that event. A truly wonderful experience, I can honestly say I'm forever changed - for the better.
However, anytime you attend an event that seeks to glorify God and give Him all the praise...you can bet your bottom dollar the enemy will surface as well. And...surface he did. For me, the enemy was present in words. Let me try and explain as diplomatically and succintly as I can (the succint part will be hard)...
I participated in the Speaker's Track of the conference. Additionally, I was part of a speaker evaluation group. To summarize, I prepared two short messages to present to my evaluation group and group leader (one on Friday night and one on Saturday evening). Needless to say, my stomach was tied in knots. Speaking to hundreds of women in Africa in June was much easier than speaking to a group of 11 here in America. Even so, that was my charge. Not only did I need to prepare my messages, but I had to prepare my heart...my attire...my attitude...everything! Anytime God gives me a word to speak, whether it's 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I must be prepared for Him to get the glory - not EVER me! As a result, I wanted to make sure that I chose professional clothing but nothing that would distract from the spoken message. Apparently, I failed in that area...with at least one woman in the group.
After we all finished our Friday night introductory talk, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Whew! It's over. Still standing, I made it. This was the night I was dreading. I felt so much better about my 5 minute Saturday night talk than this one, so bring it on! Friday night was over. Or so I thought. Now, before I go any further...I must stress that I simply want to state some facts and the events that followed. I, in no way shape or form, intend to bring judgment upon any person, and I genuinely love each woman in my speaker evaluation group with a Christ-like sisterly love that is unique to our little woven community. So, please hear my heart without reading anything deeper into it.
As we were finishing up on Friday evening, I gathered my belongings and was asked to wait up by one of the other ladies in my group. She wanted to share something with me in person, so we walked out into the hallway, and she began to share. To quickly summarize and paraphrase what I heard, apparently what I was wearing made me look more overweight than I was already. I. Stood. Shocked. I truly don't remember the next words out of my mouth, but I do remember thanking her for her honesty and moved on. Friends, I'm not saying she was wrong. Perhaps she was very right. I really don't know, and that's not my point anyway. The problem with this was that I am a very broken woman desiring to serve a holy God, and she nailed me in the bullseye of my brokenness. My weight is something that I've struggled with my entire life. I'm making no excuses for it...it's simply a struggle. I am a pretty tough cookie (no pun intended) and can handle just about any critical word out there, but when it comes to my weight or body image, I melt. And melt I did...
I went right back up to my hotel room and shared the events of the evening with my friend and roommate, Lorie, and simply melted into tears. At that point, I didn't want to stay at SheSpeaks anymore. This was to be the event that was to make clear for me and propel me into the next step that God has for me. Instead, I wanted to shrink back and quit this whole speaking ministry thing anyway and go home! How could God use an overweight woman like me in ministry? Would people even believe the words that come out of my mouth? I felt like a complete idiot for ever believing He could use me. I am not exaggerating friends. The enemy had me completely bound at that point.
God wasn't finished with the work He was doing in me. After a terrible night's sleep, I ventured downstairs for breakfast in the atrium. I can't even type the next sentence without crying, because I am still in awe of how God the Redeemer took the situation from Friday night and redeemed it over and over and over again on Saturday. And...it began with my elevator ride down to the atrium.
After the elevator door opened, my roommate and I made our way over to the breakfast area, and a woman walked up to me...a stranger, someone I'd never seen prior to that moment and someone I never saw again during the conference...and said, "I've been watching you come all the way down the elevator (it was glass, by the way) and just had to stop and tell you how good you look in the blouse!" Did I hear what I think I just heard? Oh my. "Thank you so much" was all I could utter. But, those words started a repair job on my heart. Again, before I left the breakfast area, another woman came up to me and complimented me on my outfit. The day progressed, and I received no less than 10-12 compliments from mostly strangers about my outfit and how pretty it looked or how pretty the color looked on me. I was gushing...not in a prideful sort of way...but gushing at how merciful and loving my precious Lord is to me! He didn't have to do that, but He loves me, and He knows that a few short words almost broke my complete confidence in the calling He's given me.
However, the compliment of all compliments came about an hour before my Saturday night talk was scheduled to begin. It had nothing to do with my outfit. But, it was about my previous night's message. A woman from my group thanked me for sharing what I shared and said that it really spoke to her heart. She even went on to say she couldn't even tell I was nervous (maybe I should go into acting instead???) and that it appeared very natural to me. God is so good! He took that whole day, building me back up, repairing my tattered heart to prepare me for the Saturday night talk I was to give. And, blog friends...I obeyed. I spoke the words He gave me to spoke, and the words written on my evaluations revealed to me that God simply used me as a vessel to reach down and swoop up the women present in that room that night and whisper to their hearts. That's what it's all about anyway. God speaks through ordinary people in extraordinary ways (thanks Angela Thomas), and ALL glory belongs to Him alone!