Some moments are unforgettable, maybe because they are full of joy and celebration. Sometimes it’s because they are painful and full of grief. Other times it’s because the Lord shakes things up like an earthquake and we’re left changed – a fissure results that permanently alters the landscape of our lives.
I had the chance to return to the place of an unforgettable moment last week. When this moment occurred two years ago, it was a positive negative. Have you had one of those? When the Lord shows you something painful but you know it’s because He has just turned you to His path for something good?
I wrote about it here (In the Dark Room with God). It was when I first attended Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks conference in 2014. My motive for attending was all about me – what could I learn that would benefit me? What could you do for me to notice me and help me get noticed by others? And you know what I left with? Information. I knew one more person when I left than I did when arrived, bringing the total to two.
And I left with a word from God. Yes, that’s right. A word directly from God:
Shauna, I cannot take your farther until I take you deeper.
The painful truth is my private life didn’t line up with the public image I projected. I wanted the spotlight for what I thought it would do for me, but through a keynote address by Christine Cain, the Lord warned me of the spotlight’s ability to expose my darkness: mindsets, heart attitudes and sins I didn’t want to deal with that ate at the very core of my confidence to declare and teach God’s truth. Christine spoke of the importance of spending time in the dark room with God, where like old fashioned photographic film, He can develop the image of Christ in us.
He led me into the dark room with Him.
Last week, I returned to She Speaks, where the Lord juxtaposed the me of 2014 with the me of His further transformation. I stand in awe of HIM and only hope I can convey His faithfulness in such a way that you encounter Him in my story.
In those two years in the dark room with the Lord, He exposed doubt, confusion, unbelief, secrets, lies, hurt, anger, unforgiveness, bitter roots of judgment, regrets and a degree of pride that is quite frankly embarrassing. He exposed all kinds of sin in my heart, thoughts and behaviors – old, current and of the life-dominating variety. I learned to be honestly transparent. I learned to let people in and ask for help. And I read. A lot. Scripture and a variety of books God used to direct me into His word for His truth.
And in reading one of those books, God gave me a fissure moment when He revealed an idol I set up in my heart as a very young girl. It was an image of a perfectly beautiful woman, and He showed me all the ways I’ve spent a lifetime sinning to become her. All the ways my thoughts circle back to me and getting people to notice me. Because in being noticed, I can be affirmed. Loved. Valued. Wanted. (I’ll share more about this in a future blog.)
That’s the Shauna that attended She Speaks 2014.
A different Shauna showed up this year.
The single most profound thing that happened at She Speaks 2016 took place in the designated prayer room. The preparation the conference team invests in the details of the conference is beyond measure, but even more impressive and important than that is everything they invest in creating a place where the Holy Spirit is welcome and free to move. Wow. Did He ever! One of those preparations is the prayer room, a thoughtfully arranged room where attendees can go to spend time in God’s presence. The Lord took me there the first morning, before any of the sessions began. And there, in a pool of tears that had been dammed for months, I said goodbye to my idol. When I left that room, I left her behind.
As a broken, desperately thankful, redeemed woman, I share what the Lord revealed to me at She Speaks 2016. Much of the beauty of this year’s conference is the result of ugly truth the Lord exposed in me. May it somehow be used for His glory and your benefit.
If you are one of the incredibly beautiful, talented women of the She Speaks sisterhood, my heart is overwhelmed with the enormity of God’s work in and through you. Wow. What a blessing to know you!
If you are one of the women who has believed in me, encouraged me, prayed for me and cheered me on, there are no words for the warmth and gratitude that wells up in me for you!
If you are one of the women who has linked arms with me through this blog – forgive me for ever making this about me! I pray somehow as you read this the Lord touches you in a profound way through what He’s done and shown me.
The Lord used She Speaks 2016 to reveal the degree of His transforming work in me. I went with a heart to know others – their story and how I could love and be there for them. And I left having made what I believe will be lifelong connections with people, not objects. I left with relationships, not just information.
In the interest of keeping this below 50,000 words, here are the most significant highlights from my weekend.
Words the Lord spoke straight to my heart:
If you don’t have time for family and people, you don’t have time for ministry.
I can’t use you if you’re using people.
You can’t love people if you’re using them.
The exhortation of others who authentically shared what they’ve learned going before me:
Be you. Stop comparing and trying to piece together a you that’s made up of what you admire and want from what you see in everyone else. Just be you.
Pursue God’s specific assignment for you. God is driven by the needs of others, and only He knows the need He seeks to meet through you.
There are seasons of “Yes!”, seasons of “No” and seasons of “Wait.” Seasons of wait are seasons of preparation.
Ways the Lord clarified who I am and His assignment for me in writing and speaking:
My over-arching passion for everything I pen or speak is that somehow what I’ve learned the hard way (a.k.a. my way) compared to the blessing of learning to do things the Lord’s way (a.k.a. according to HIS word) would make a difference for you in less suffering and more joy.
The desire of my heart and therefore the heart of my ministry is to live untethered by becoming wholly His, and in whatever way the Lord may choose, to encourage, help and see you do the same!
The most useful tool I received:
Mind mapping and understanding the way our thoughts develop ruts in our minds. This will most definitely be its own blog post very soon! In fact, the only reason this post is less than 50,000 words is I mind mapped it!
I will leave you with these final two thoughts:
- God can take the very things we want to forget and make them unforgettable moments in our walk with Him.
- People don’t connect with a perfect façade. They connect with our brokenness, and brokenness binds the beautiful.
Let’s be broken together. Let’s seek Jesus together. Let’s share the broken places so we can celebrate the beauty the Lord brings forth.
There are two more posts related to She Speaks that would have made this one way too long. If you’d like, stay tuned for Why I Hate Barbie and It’s a Rut not a Failure in the near future!