I learned of the Influence Conference the first time it was ever held four years ago. Since then, a number of people have been telling me I NEEDED to attend. Sadly, the cards just never aligned for me so I was extremely grateful when I found out I would be able to attend this year.
I really took away a lot from this weekend, and I will share those things in time, but today I just wanted to give a quick "big picture" look at some of those things. Here are the three lessons I took away from the conference:
1. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE KNOWN TO BE ACCEPTED. Blogging and the internet are funny, funny things. This weekend, not only did I have a chance to meet some of my favorite bloggers that I have known for a number of years, but I also got to meet a ton of new people I wasn't familiar with or that weren't familiar with me.
One thing I learned this weekend was that just because I didn't know someone or they didn't know me, did not mean we didn't accept each other. Everyone woman I came in contact with this weekend made me feel heard, loved, and welcomed. Genuinely. That's the body of Christ in the flesh.
I also had the chance to talk with some of the women that I really admire in the blogging world. Ladies who I thought were "too big" to see or hear me. But you know what, I was completely proved wrong. They did notice me. And when I wasn't known, I was immediately accepted.
2. WE ARE NOT A LIABILITY. I shared a bit about this on Instagram, but I wanted to say a little more. We often believe the lie that we are a liability. That we could drop the ball at any time. That we might be "found out" for the sinner we are at any time. Well, that really convicted me and got me thinking.
Lately, I've really been struggling with being in leadership in our church. Three years ago when I was saved, I never thought I would be qualified to be a leader in the church. Yet, God has put me there. And it's scary. But it's lovely. I have noticed that being in leadership tends to distance you from the body in certain ways (and draw you closer in others). People become scared to ask you the hard questions, assume you have it all figured out and they don't, and see you differently. I'm terrified that I will be put on some pedestal and that I will fall because of it. Because I'm flawed, I will inevitably fail them.
And it's true. If it wasn't true, I wouldn't need Jesus. So I've been thinking... how can I practically fight against being put on this pedestal? I think it comes back to authenticity. Sharing your struggle. Sharing your hurts. Letting those around you see that you too are flawed, that you too make mistakes and need to be asked about sin issues. I feel really convicted that I need to keep sharing my story with others, even if it is messy and hard. However, I'm not a liability because Jesus paid for that already. I sit at the foot of the cross along with everyone else.
This morning at #influenceconf @jessaconnolly shared about how she feels like a liability. Don't we all? I often believe the lie that I'm a liability to my church and community. Sometimes I wonder if it is a mistake that I was put in a leadership role in our church plant. I was only saved in 2012. Did someone make a mistake? Am I really worthy of this? Is someone going to find out that I'm not enough for this role? But really, the truth is that I will never be enough but I will also never be a liability because Jesus. I've already been found out and my sin is exposed, but the good news is I'm already free because He paid the ultimate price. And guess what? You're not a liability either.
3. IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. I came into this weekend with the prayer that God would refresh and renew me. I was feeling tired and broken and weak and I just needed rest in him. God quickly showed that it wasn't about me.
One of the first sessions I went to was on marriage. The girl that sat next to me was in tears the entire time. Tears, tears, and more tears. Instead of thinking about what God was doing for ME in that moment, I realized that he wanted me to be there for this. Not for myself. I saw hurting women all around me this weekend. I made the decision to surrender to God and follow his lead in this and let me tell you, it was weird and uncomfortable. I don't handle tears well and I definitely don't have all the right answers. This woman had been married 8 years and was a mother. I've been married ONE YEAR. All I could do for her was offer to pray. That's all I had to give. But God moved. I was faithful, and he moved because of it. Had I just chosen to be upset that he wasn't filling me up, I would have missed the opportunity to love this hurting wife.
It's funny, because I looked back in my journal when I got home and this is what I had written a few days before the conference: "I really want to open up my heart to you and all the women there." God answered the second part of my prayer, which then opened up my heart to Him more. God works in mysterious ways, but he is SO good.