I can’t tell you about (in)RL without sharing a piece of my Story. Hang with me, and I hope you’ll see my heart: community has not only molded me, God has used in real life community to bring me closer to Him.
I started dreaming in August. The (in)courage team and I, we planned for and prayed over the women who would come together on April 26th and 27th for (in)RL.
I went from a participant, watching along (alone in my freshman dorm room) in April of 2012 to hosting my own meetup as a sophomore, as well as being the (in)tern at (in)courage, answering hundreds of emails and spending months dreaming of what God would do.
None of us knew, but we knew that if we would step aside He would do immeasurably more. So we dreamed bigger and loved deeper and prayed harder, believing that He would do more than what our feeble hands could do alone.
6,000 women, joyful in the Lord and hurt from community at one time or another in their life, they came together to form the most beautiful melody of community.
It feels wrong to put human words to such a God-centered time, but I know this: He led many of us girls, His daughters, through the rough moments and back out into the bright.
My Story isn’t one void of hurt. My deepest scars and most shattered pieces come from community. What do you do when your brothers and sisters in Christ decide they no longer want to be friends with you?
If we could sit for coffee and share our Stories, you would see that I chose the path of retreating. I was still 100% present at church, but my heart was guarded by 10 ft. deep walls with barbed wire on top, just for added precaution. No one was allowed in because there were too many broken spaces.
He used many life experiences, including brain surgery to remove a tumor and then moving to college, to bring people into my life to love me unconditionally. I began to open up, slowly but surely.
God used good community to heal me from bad community. I bear the scars of broken community, but they tell the story of healing.
It took time, friends. Times of good and times of hard but mainly just time. And love. Then I met these girls, and we were transparent and real and community to each other.
So this past weekend, after countless times of listening to me stress over tests and emails and planning and then 30 seconds later hop up and down like a crazy women raving over the best job (and team) in the world, they supported me. They knew (in)RL was important to me and that I had dreamed of this weekend for months.
I Pinterest-ed and created master lists and cut up rolls of toilet paper to make flowers. I baked and baked, and spent way too long deciding what color plates to buy.
Not because any of it mattered, but because I wanted these friends of mine who had shown me such love to feel comfortable and loved in this space. (in)RL is a safe place to put your dirty feet up on the couch and lay your messy heart out on the table.
They came. We ate, we watched videos, and we discussed. There were a few tears and some good laughs, but mainly there was just community.
I could talk about these girls for hours, and I could go on and on about the incredible (in)courage team that has become my family, I could even tell you with 100% sincerity that the women you listened to in the webcast are the real deal. They walk their talk when actions speak louder than words.
But these human words don’t do justice to what God did this past weekend, so I’m going to simply shut my mouth and pray that my words will be His words and you will see Him here in me.
*With much love, and oh so much thankfulness to the One who did much more than immeasurably more*