This weekend was beautiful. I mean, the weather in Dallas was gorgeous so that was great, and the decorations at the Hopespoken conference were over-the-top amazing which certainly made us all feel loved. The women attending were some of the prettiest people I’ve ever seen and I could have listened all day to the sweet voices of the worship leaders.
All of that was beautiful.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
Unlike what you might expect from a women’s conference, there was very little teaching. Very few bullet points for how to get from there to here. Very few strategies shared or words of advice given. You didn’t walk away with a list of things to do and ways you’re not measuring up and that, in itself, was beautiful.
But that’s not what I’m talking about either.
What made the weekend beautiful were the stories shared.
Stories from the stage, from women who have recognizable names, and stories around a table, from women just met.
Stories about pain and loss and heartbreak.
Stories about grace and freedom and love.
I don’t always feel like my story is interesting or like I have any wisdom to offer by telling it. Like all of us, times of heartache are part of my story too, but those things happened years ago and so I feel like maybe they aren’t so important anymore. That was so long ago, emily, I tell myself. You’ve moved beyond it, you’ve healed, it’s in the past. All of these things are true, to a point. I don’t want to keep opening up wounds that don’t need to be reopened. I don’t want to dwell in those sad and painful places.
But I also don’t want to forget.
Because in those sad and painful places, Jesus was there. Comforting me. Walking with me. Protecting me. Drawing my heart closer to His.
There is so much – so, so much – that I flew home from Texas with. Challenges to take and grieving to be done, a renewed spirit and deep desire to return to that place where I need Jesus.
But of all the things I walked away with, the most important of all is this: tell your story.
It doesn’t have to take place on a stage or online or to a large group. It doesn’t have to be a sad story or a happy story or a complete story or one you’re proud to share. All I know is that in each of our lives and in each of our stories, Jesus is there. And when we share our stories with others, it allows them to see Him as well.