When NO feels safer than YES!
Writing…Speaking… Podcasting…Ministry of any kind can be a lonely endeavor. Hours of dedication, time and prayer go into following a passion instilled by God Himself. Educating yourself is crucial in honing your skills, talents and passions. More importantly surrounding yourself with liked minded women is inspiring and comfirming. Speak Up has been a “must do” conference on my radar for several years. Each year, something stood in my way. Vacations, finances, college kids moving out of state. One reason or another something was in the way, preventing my attendance. Here I am, it’s 2023 and everything has aligned for the opportunity for me to attend. Registration purchased, room reservations made, and my mind and heart prepared for what I have heard to be a life changing experience. The excitement was palpable. Little did I know, two days later that excitement would crumble as news of serious family heartache came our way. My focus shifted from how to improve my writing, speaking and podcasting to how do I breathe? Speak Up was a distant thought and ministry felt too hard to consider. Days, weeks, and months passed as July 12th, the first day of the conference drew closer. I had come to the conclusion, I was wrong, this would not be the year I would attend. My family needed me, my aching heart longed to be cared for, and my mind struggled to comprehend that I belonged in ministry at all.
Everthing in me, said NO!
Searching for the FAQ’s on the website the research proved, “I can get a refund.” A text sent to my roommate; “I’m sorry, I will pay for my portion of the room, but I can’t attend.” had covered all the bases and I was kindly declining this opportunity. Not without a pit in my stomach knowing this long time dream would have to wait,
“No” felt safer than “yes.”
Then it happened. A response I didn’t expect:
“If you come and simply sit in the room and cry, COME!”
I pondered the option of being alone in a room, away from my family, a quiet room to myself where I could feel all I needed to feel, cry as much as I needed to cry, and pound my fist in a bed just for me.
Yes, I can do that!
One week before I was set to leave I reluctantly purchased the plane ticket though I was looking forward to my very own personal pity party in Michigan.
Days before leaving I finally opened all the emails that had been left unseen.
There was homework to be completed for the speaking track and an opportunity to write a devotion for the possibility of publishing. I prayed, I wrote, I hit send. Even though the plan was to stay isolated in the room, my type A personality wouldn’t dare let me show up unprepared. The day I was set to leave a storm blew through the northeast delaying flights and wreaking havoc on travel plans. Delay after delay and I resolved with one more delay I would leave the airport and take that as a sign that God didn’t want me there. Two thirty AM I laid my head on the pillow in a strange state, a strange bed and strange feeling. Maybe I should at least attend the first session. Here I was depleted emotionally, spiritually now physically, “why in the world did I show up” I pondered as the alarm jolted me from my slumber. Reluctantly walking into session one, a beautiful and equally dynamic woman promised to hold my attention for 3 hours… not a chance I scoffed under my breath. As the speaker began to captivate the class a man walked in and sat next to me, which caught me by surprise, I believed this was a conference just for women? Half way through this first session we were tasked with sharing who we were, who we were called to serve and why. One by one these women with resumes that solidified why I should have stayed home shared the details of their ministries, books, speaking abilities and educations. I am “just a mom,” who God continues to chase despite all of my deficiencies. Standing in front of me, all eyes on me, it was my turn, I rambled my “elevator pitch” to this crowd and was secretly happy for the leader to move on.
Then he spoke.
The strange, out of place man in the group. First his name, then his federal prison number. My heart skipped a beat and my breath fell shallow. In that moment, I knew why God had me show up. You see two days after I paid my registration fee, my son was incarcerated and up until that moment in a room full of strangers, I had felt alone. As soon as we took a break, I turned to confess that I was a Momma with a broken heart, and a lost son. This man graciously listened and immediately our lives were connected. God knew why I needed to be there, He had prepared a place for me at Speak Up. The worship was rich and soothed my heart, the speakers filled my head with knowledge, the leaders spread joy like confettti and the participants locked arms with each other with one goal in mind, Jesus!
When my “no” felt safer, there were “yeses” waiting on me to show up.
That last minute devotion submission for a chance at being published, was a YES. Two opportunities to speak amongst peers and a seasoned speaker, brought encouragement that “YES” my message matters.
Meetings with industry insiders affirmed, I needed to continue to pursue where God was leading.
A chance meeting with a best selling author, fueled my desire to finish the book that was started 3 years ago.
Saying yes to Speak Up reminded me, we all desperately need Jesus, and He has divinely appointed each one of us. Despite our pain, despite our emotions, despite our “no’s” He has called us to share Him with the world. He has called me, equipped me, and connected me with a room full of women AND men, to Speak up and say YES!