Tuesday, July 29, 2014

my story of being awkward and broken, and championed.

I'm an odd type of extrovert. 
Being around people energizes me in a way that nothing else can; yet I often find that I'm afraid of putting myself out there. I used to be incredibly outgoing, fearless of meeting new people. Over the last few years I've become a bit more reserved and I wait a little longer to dive in. I think part of the reason is just getting older and having less time to hang out with friends, and the fact that I have two tiny children who need a lot from me pretty much 24/7.

But I also know that "putting myself out there" (aka being real with other women) runs the risk of me not being embraced. If I take down any facades I might put up and let people know the real me, they might find something awkward or broken. This makes me a bit hesitant. And a bit of a weird extrovert.

This is where I was at when I started blogging and when I first heard of the Influence Conference
I felt awkward and broken in my daily life, so the idea of going to a conference where I knew NO ONE (besides a few women I'd said hello to on Twitter and commented on each other's blogs) sounded no bueno. The problem was that I kept feeling the Holy Spirit nudging me to go, and then my husband got on board and was like YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. Which made things super real because I don't think my husband would normally tell me to go hang out a bunch of people I met on the internet ;)

You know what happened when I got to the conference?
And for the entire 3-day conference?
And for the last 2 years since I went to that first Influence Conference?

My tiny, awkward, broken self was embraced.

My roommates and I (who had met each other that weekend) cried and prayed together.
I had women speak life into me, and I got to speak life into them.
Facades were dropped at the door, and even if it took some stinkin' courage, and several hours of small talk, Jesus met us as we were real with each other. 

Since then, I've made some really close friends through the internet. I began volunteering with the Influence Network's prayer team, and Thrive Moms through my connection with the network. Working with these teams makes me feel more brave and excited to "put myself out there."
I've been able to champion other gals I've met online, and be championed and prayed for.

2013 Influence Conference, the Thrive Moms team!
I wasn't able to go to the conference, and these gals took this picture and sent it to me. I cried.
This is just one reason I love them (and the other gals who have joined 
the Thrive Moms team since this picture was taken)!

As the Influence Netties like to say, "the internet is real." And it's not real so that we can all just high-five each other and have a cry fest. It's real in a way that Jesus is changing us through one another, and He is (I'm pretty darn sure!) creating lasting fruit that will impact people beyond our computer screens and pour into our "real" lives.

So. That's my story of community. I'm still pretty awkward and broken. But saying yes to community, both online and in "real life", has been the GREATEST GIFT. Put yourself out there, friends. (And self.) It's worth it.

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