You know that moment when someone you know as an acquaintance shifts to a friend? That moment you or her just lay all your stuff out on the table? Like… “Here I am: my life is messy and over-complicated, but I just can’t have you ask me “how are you doing today?” one more time and not tell you the truth.
Well, I’m that girl. The girl that is tired of pretense or just had a hard day, and the over-sharing spills out like a broken dam. I’m always left with self-talk, saying “Wow, Amanda, you hold nothing back! and they’ve got to be feeling like you’re too much.” Okay, let’s just go ahead and call that self-talk what it is: insecurity, fear and anxiety that this person will bolt now that I’ve shown them my true self.
But when I’m the one witnessing a woman laying her true self, her joys, fears and frustrations out there, I don’t have those thoughts. It’s everything, I love when people get real. I see myself in her struggle. I care deeply for her in that moment. I see and love her in that moment. I want to rally her on, celebrate or cry with her.
That’s what the Influence Conference was for me. Wave after wave of seeing and knowing these women. These days, we “know” so many people from the squares of Instagram or from across the park. We interpret the bits and pieces they share with us, not knowing the whole, real story. We create a separation between ourselves and the women we see in passing or online. The separation is the lie that these women are past the struggle & livin’ the dream.
Each time a woman I thought I knew would walk on stage at the conference, she would tear down the walls of separation I had created in my mind. Each speaker would share her story, revealing that her relationship with Jesus was still evolving, that following her calling felt hopeless at times, that she stumbles, doubts and continues to fight desires of the ego, just like me.
They proved that not one of the ladies in the audience needed to have it all together to be qualified to share their faith or gifts and that they could have faith in the promise of our God, while still sorting out what it means to be a daughter of God. Within their stories, we found our stories.
Jess Connolly kicked the morning off by sharing what The Influence Network stood for. She left us with questions that broke past the pleasantries and forced attendees to get boldly honest about their influence and how they felt about their influence.
How have I discounted the way He made me?
How have I discounted the place He put me?
Who has God given you favor with?
Who wants to hear from you?
Who has He given you burden for?
What way have you been hurt that you hide?
What ways do you hurt? What is your daily sin?
What are your “Joseph” dreams?
I’ve been sitting with these for days. I have quick answers to these questions, long answers and complete silence for them. They are something I will continue to ask myself as life evolves and I take on new roles of influence.
In her opening talk, she also asked us why we were there. I didn’t know or think about it until she asked the question. My ticket was a gift; an event like this is not something I feel super comfortable attending alone. Marrissa wasn’t able to come with me on this trip so I was completely solo.
When she asked, I immediately thought… “I was there to hear that God did not put the desire in my heart to create a business that supports women to torture me…”
Jess closed her opening talk with Luke 10: In my real sin, He is made strong.” Looking back, I feel that was the theme of the day. These amazing ladies shared their struggle with all different kinds of sin, and displayed God’s strength in every inch of their stories.
A big bonus from attending was meeting some amazing ladies. I got to go to lunch with a few women and had the chance to get to know them better. You can check out Kimberly Keith’s recap here and Alicia Cardwell’s here. It was so neat to be sitting at a table with women who were sure of their faith and could speak openly about seeking wisdom from Him.
It’s not something I’m entrenched in in my day-to-day life, and have just recently become more open (on-line) about how I seek out + struggle with finding a relationship with The Lord. So, to be with so many women in the thick of their own walk was refreshing.
I had to leave a bit early to help a very pregnant friend, prepare for a sweet baby boy. As I was walking out, I had a twinge of disappointment that I didn’t get to meet Jess and Hayley while at the event.
As you know, Marrissa and I are on the Wild and Free launch team. I was hoping for the opportunity to talk them into coming to visit us in WV, even though we are far from the 100 attendee requirement…
So with disappointment in hand, I jumped in the car and paused for a quick IG post before hitting the road. As I was pulling out Jess commented on the photo I had just posted that she wanted to meet with us! (wait, WHAT?!)
Well, that wall of separation came right up when I saw her message. I was pulling out of the parking lot, having an internal struggle and telling myself, “Oh they don’t want to meet, just keep driving.” And I figured I would be a crazy groupie if I turned around and went back to meet these ladies whom I admire so much.
Well, right before I hit the interstate, I said what the heck, I’ll message her back… So I pulled off and messaged her I was leaving and told her they could meet in the parking lot. I hit send and told myself I’d give her a few minutes to respond. Well, within seconds she replied to me that they were coming outside.
I went back and met Hayley and Jess and told them how important we felt it was for women in our area to see women being successful business owners, wives, moms, chasing Jesus and telling people about it. They were so kind and supportive of our hopes to have an event in West Virginia and could not have been any more normal during my complete awkwardness. 😉
So after this long-winded post, I hope you will let go of the walls you’ve built, find God’s Glory in your sin and lay it all out there– because life is to short to wait till you feel qualified to stand in your influence.