She walked in the room. My eyes met hers, I can’t say who saw who first, but there we were – eyes locked and her gentle wave of acknowledgement. I jumped up from my seat and as quickly as I could, without breaking into a run (like, who am I kidding, right?!), made my way into her arms that were opened wide to draw my weary from travel soul into herself. And there, right on her pretty sweatered shoulder, my heart broke open and poured out of my eyeballs.
Like, really, who hugs someone and just cries all over her? I do. I did. And I will in the future, I’m sure of it. At that moment, she represented everything that was home to me. She was my sister, my connection, my friend, my community.
The oddest thing is that I’ve only actually been in her presence on two occasions – both of which I was a complete wreck and in the weirdest seasons of my life. In the fall of 2013, I signed up for a simulcast IF:Gathering and searched for one close to me, it was her home, in VA. Unfortunately, I ended up having to back out because of a commitment with church. However, we connected over Facebook and realized we had some common friends and lived relatively close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.
Right there, in my messiest season, in the middle of the Starbucks at Target, I blabbered and blabbered about life, church, ministry, kids, pain, joy, and anything else that came up. She received with grace on top of grace many pieces of my undoing. I’ve thought back to that time we had and know that I completely monopolized her time, her heart, and her kindness because she took the time to ask me questions and showed a desire to know me. She really was being Jesus with skin for me that day. I don’t know if she knows that…
Her story is hers to tell and I won’t share that, but I will share that all the failings I ever felt in motherhood and ministry and life were not ones I felt alone. And sometimes, no matter how connected we are or how involved we are, our failures still seem to burrow into our ears during the night when our hearts seem heaviest. Our babes will go through life in this world and succumb to the pitfalls, temptations, and veer their way right off the course we have planned for them. We will all have to figure out how to deal with those things with our family, our history, and our expectations in mind. What works for one family won’t always work for another. And she reminded me of that.
The next time we got the chance to connect was in April 2014 at the Winsome Retreat that she hosts in Pennsylvania. If you are close to there or can get there – GO! I’m telling you, just go. Do it. Be there. While we didn’t have much one-on-one time, she did speak and teach and share her passions and burdens with us.
I know I’ll share a lot of things that happened this weekend at the Refresh my Heart conference, but for now, I want to share some things that Kim Hyland (that’s the *her* of whom I speak) spoke about over the weekend. The whole conference was about being “preapproved” by God. Being comfortable with who we are as women and accepting whom God has called each of us to be. One of the things Kim said during her session was “let’s be comfortable with our imperfections.” Right? How many times do we sit in front of the mirror only to turn on ourselves and become our very worst enemy? We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.
“Living in the light of the Gospel is redeeming,” she said. When we take our time to come out of our own minds, being tempted by the lies of the enemy, we can see His light and His goodness for us. We don’t have to live in the darkness and the lies and the dimming of our spirit that satan so desperately tries to drown us in. Instead, we see the Light of the Gospel and we choose to walk in it because it’s for our own good—our own redemption.
She goes on to say, “God’s wants to conform me to the image of Jesus and His plan will not be thwarted.” In other words, I can’t UNDO how God has already made me. He has created me and created you and His sole purpose was to make us in His image and for His purpose. His impression of us isn’t going to change based on how we perceive ourselves. We are His perfect design. Kim translated one version of the word abide (menó) in Greek as: to remain as one is, not to become another or different. Christ has called us to remain in Him. We are made to be who we are for the plans He has for us. Not to become like those around us or to fall into the comparison trap or to wish we were more like so and so, or had more like so and so, or were better like so and so. “We are already confirmed by God,” she says and we don’t need to look for our confirmation from any other source.
Friends, there are so many takeaways I want you to have from this post.
One, do not ever discount the impact that one little coffee, with one broken soul, might have in the big scheme of things.
Two, do not discount that friendships can and are made, grown, and will flourish because of social media, annual conferences, blogs, and speaking engagements. It’s confirmed and many of my dearest people are those I met because of virtual opportunities.
Three, you are loved.
Four, you are made by Him, for Him, and because of Him. You are not a mistake. Nothing about you is a mistake.
Five, in case you didn’t see it the first time, you.are.loved. Deeply. Wildly. Over-the-top kinda loved.