It’s easy to become cynical and jaded when leaders and celebrities disappoint us time and time again. When your spiritual leader is leading a double life of lies and affairs. When your favorite celebrity turns out to be a jerk behind closed doors. When every time the curtain is pulled back, reality is not what you thought it was.
And so I think the joy of finding reality to be even better than we had hoped is something to make mention of.
This past weekend I was part of the IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas. In the weeks leading up to the event, I let my anxiety get the better of me. When Lindsey Nobles invited me to blog about my experience, I was excited. But soon my self-doubt and the lies that started as a whisper turned into a roar of anxiety and stress.
I barely slept the week leading up to the conference. I worried about meeting people in person who had an expectation of who I was going to be, I worried about meeting people who had no idea who I was, I worried about living up to expectations as a blogger, I worried about EVERYTHING.
Now I realize all my stress, my anxiety, my worries about meeting those who are in the public eye, those who write best-sellers, those who speak on stages, those who have perfect hair — everything I was feeling was about ME. In my self-centeredness, I let anxiety rule my thoughts.
I think when we look at the leaders, the speakers, the authors, we might have two assumptions:
1. These people have it all together.
2. These people are clique-y women who only care about each other.
Or maybe not. Maybe I’m the only freak who thinks about such things. (Please tell me I’m not.)
So when I got to the Austin Music Hall on day one, my conference pass was exchanged for an all-access pass, and I was led to the front table. Right smack dab in the middle of the leaders and speakers. Right smack dab in the center of my anxiety. (Play it cool, Alysa. Play it cool.)
By the end of day number two, it hit me. God had put me in that seat for two important reasons:
1. To remind me that I am a unique creation with gifts and strengths and purpose. To STOP COMPARING. (This was a great theme of the weekend that I will blog about later this week). To stop trying to measure up to standards no one is putting on me but myself. To rest in who God made me to be. To find peace in the truth, and leave anxiety behind.
2. To communicate to you about the humble hearts of the IF:Gathering lead team and speakers. I was blown away by the authenticity, grace, humility and kindness of every single woman I met. No exceptions. I watched them encourage one another, furiously scribble notes during sessions, and cheer each other on. And they weren’t just kind to each other, they were kind to me, and to anyone else who came by the table. I believe it is important for you to know the humility and grace I witnessed, and to know these women are part of this movement for the same reason you and I are. There is action behind their words, truth in their hearts, and kindness in their eyes. They are the real deal.
It is not possible to get behind a movement until you know the leadership is authentic. I believe God had me in that seat to tell you that you can get behind these leaders, you can get behind IF.
For those who might think I’m just kissing up right now, I’m sorry you’re still skeptical. I probably would be too. All I can tell you is I felt burdened to share the peace I experienced this weekend in the middle of those who once intimidated me when they shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”
All images used with permission from IF:Gathering