April 29 – Friday night, 10:50 pm, I sat in my car watching the headlights of all the cars in the church parking lot. It seemed hundreds of women were all leaving at once. Some walked out in groups laughing and talking with hearts full of excitement. I myself had walked slowly away from the crowds in that “please don’t notice me” way. I loved the Aspire Women’s Conference just as everyone else did. I laughed, I sang, and I praised God. I also walked out with this heaviness on my heart. It wasn’t a bad thing at all. I just needed to get to my car and be alone with God.
I tried to talk to God in my heart and mind but tears started welling up in my eyes, and the LAST thing I wanted was for anyone to see me begin to break down. I would completely lose it for sure. I was grateful for the darkness, and the fact that my car was parked opposite of where most cars were parked.
I thought about speaker/Bible teacher Shannon Hoffpauir and her stories about her very strong-willed young daughter and how her women’s group leader or Bible study teacher (I am not sure which) had advised that Shannon pay outloud over her daughter when the strong willed moments came about. Shannon’s encouragement to pray for our children really hit home. Her story touched my heart. She made me realize that although I saw her as totally having it all together (which I still feel like she does) she didn’t get there by simply getting out of bed.
I also thought about my own mom life. Although I have been a Christian for years, like pretty much my whole life, I never had these moments that Shannon talked of. Sure I had a child who went overboard occasionally with a fit or two, but I didn’t have an awesome women’s group leader or Bible study teacher to give me amazing advice or who would model wonderful parenting and Christian leadership for me. I kind of was on my own. I had a bit of mourning over things that I couldn’t control. I was so blessed really and this was a very good thing, but my heart broke a bit.
That breaking was a very good thing. A very God thing. I realized that in lots of ways I didn’t fit the mold of what I thought I should fit. I want to be a woman who could bless others and point them to Jesus. I want to love Jesus and serve him in every way, but I have always felt this little thing holding me back. Perfection. I don’t fit the mold, I’m not perfect. Seriously, I have created this measuring stick and put it up against myself and just about anyone else and find myself continuously lacking.
It’s a childhood thing. It is a life thing. It is a growing up in the 80s thing. It is a human being thing.
I’m guessing it is not just a me thing.
I have focused on what I am not and therefore felt I was not:
- I am not living on an awesome farm and renovating run down school houses to create new living spaces.
- I am not a mother of a couple of adorable toddlers, preschoolers, or frankly anyone who needs to have mom drive them to any appointments whatsoever.
- I am not a crafty woman who can create a beautiful centerpiece out of a couple of spotlessly cleaned out soup cans and garden sprigs.
- I am not a gifted cook who makes her own crackers from scratch and is a whiz with a KitchenAid mixer. Heck, I have a gorgeous KitchenAid mixer and it stays in the box because I have nowhere to display it or use it.
- I am not highly organized. I’m not organized at all. I thrive in the mess frankly and that probably has to do with the fact that as a teen a mess kept my mom cleaning and not snooping.
- I didn’t go to vacation Bible school growing up. I did go to one Bible camp for a weekend and got into trouble for wearing Dolphin shorts (if you remember the 80s you might recall these shorts).
- I didn’t go to Bible college or a Christian college. I kind of screwed up a lot in college. I didn’t go to CRU. I played Hi-Lo-Jack.
- I am simply not a P31 kind of woman although I love the ones who are. They inspire me like crazy. They are incredible!
For much of my life, I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was too bad to be a good girl and too good to be a bad girl (okay Bad Girl’s Club type of bad girl).
I loved the Lord, but I was afraid of Christians. When I finally got my head on straight, I honestly felt like it was too late.
In the car that Friday night. I felt it was too late.
On the drive home I cried and cried to God. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to go to the event. I thanked him for loving me. I cried prayers out for my son and my friends. I shared with him how I felt.
Through the night I felt God tell me in that way that I knew it wasn’t coming from me.
You are not a surprise to me. I didn’t leave anything out when I created you.
It is not too late for you.
It is not too late for anyone.
I am not saying that an enormous lightbulb went off or anything, but I really felt that God got through to me in a way that I had not imagined. I got home puffy eyed and drained, but I never felt so positive about God’s love and my place in His plan.
It’s not too late for anyone. It is not too late for you. I really believe that God wants us all to know this. If you are breathing, it is not too late to make a difference, to learn something new, to see what God has in store for you, to share with someone else how deeply Jesus loves them and to see yourself as God sees you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Believe it!
You are authentically you.