Monday, April 07, 2014

#hopespoken part one (the rambling part)

perhaps the true title is "a post about anxiety that threatened to choke a beautiful thing"

it's been just over a week since the conference ended. i'm still grasping for the words, aching to accurately describe to you the sheer beauty packed into the hours of hope spoken. and this is me giving up, because i'm pretty sure there are no words to really tell you how it was. 
i'm hoping to write more than one hope spoken post, so let's start here. with me, and how i felt about all of this. is it self-centered to focus on my feelings? i'm feeling a big push to document the emotional roller coaster i had a weekend pass to, so let's do this...a little behind the scenes look, if you will.

i was so ridiculously anxious about speaking, i was in some sort of twilight zone from wednesday night, until i finished my second speaking session on saturday afternoon. completely selfish of me, and i regret wasting my energy on fear and worry. i kept on claiming god's truth to my heart and he was faithful to bless me in the midst of my anxiety. one gift was arriving two nights before the event began. the first night i was completely alone. i was desperate to gather myself, to feel prepared for sharing my story. every time i sat down to focus, the fog in my ming only thickened. paralyzing my vision, blinding me to hope. i gave into weakness, i gave into those stinging feelings of inadequacy. i cried to the lord for his famous and free grace upon grace upon grace. he covered me securely with it. again and again, because in my weakness i kept leaving his covering and choosing my own sad tent of frail fear. why do i do such things?! 

things cheered up for me when casey and danielle (and caleb, danielle's husband, bless his sweet soul!) knocked on my hotel room door. it was so dang wonderful to see them, hug them, and all be a little nervous together. and eat in n out burgers! what was about to happen? this hope spoken thing, it was swiftly approaching and i think none of us dreamed of how huge it was going to be. now i know, there was no way any of us could prepare our hearts for how the lord began a work through what was to come during that weekend.

even more goodness, my sister flew into town, we saw a darling old friend (hi, courtney!), and i sent them off so i could go help decorate. decorating was therapy. loading and unloading trucks full of colorful treasures, switching table cloths, pinning and taping tissue poms and stuffing attendee goodie bags served to keep me occupied and free from stress. also stress relief, more friends arrived! some precious best ones, and some i'd never met yet in real life. man, things were already getting so good, you know?

exhausted and still fighting fear over speaking the next day, i hustled to get ready for a luncheon. the hope spoken angels aka danielle, casey and emily hosted a beautifully relaxed get together for us speakers. this was such a treat! the texas weather was divine from casey's cozy porch, every bit of food delicious and the company! i loved chatting with my fellow speakers, a few of which i've been wanting to meet for years! icing on this happy cake was the thoughtful gift bags each of us received. so special. i cried again seeing it all as i unpacked here at home! i think i'll share more about those gifts in another post :) after the luncheon, things were about to begin!

during the event registration, i exchanged real life hellos and a few hugs with familiar online darlings. as the women flooded into the cheerfully decorated conference areas, i just grinned so dang hard! what a sight, all these hearts gathered in pursuit and praise of HOPE. hallelujah.

saturday came too soon. with my turn to speak happening in the afternoon, i had plenty of time to enjoy sessions and friends. except i didn't do that very well. once again, i barely kept anxiety from making me completely insane. thankfully, i was able to get it together enough during the speaker sessions ahead of mine. praise the lord for that, and i will share more in my next post!

the point i want to make here is this.
god blesses us, works through us and grows us anyway.
i was a certifiable mess. steadily choosing fear instead of freedom (freedom-exactly what my talk was supposed to be about!). there's a part of me that cries out for a "do over". a chance to speak again. a chance to meet sweet people for the first time again. an opportunity to be my actual self, you know? except.
i was my actual self. a struggling sinner. too proud to just breathe in god's peace and be finished with everything contrary. too selfish to let go of my worries and be fully open-hearted to those i interacted with.
but god. in his rich, ridiculous mercy made it all good. i felt as though i couldn't have done a worse job on my session talks. they were nothing like i planned, delivered in stammering, tearful nervous phrases. but somehow the lord's truth spilled through the cracks of my shaky voice. he's amazing in this way. using what weakness i can offer and making it enough. and exactly what it needs to be for that time.

i can make all the plans and preparation that i want. i can fail to trust jesus and be brought low. the lord will order my thoughts, words and steps. he's the author of this story. he's the one who gets the glory. so i will choose to praise him for my weakness, and that he did mighty things in spite of me.