3 Lessons I learned While Speaking at A Women's Conference This Past Weekend!
Ahhhhh! I had the awesome pleasure and privilege to be a guest speaker at The Replenish Women's Conference in Bridgeport Connecticut, a sister in Christ and colleague in the field of public health invited me to participate. Affectionately she is called Lady Lindsey, she is a sweetheart and very passionate about ministry and women. She confessed some of the struggles of planning a conference that size and caliber. It was encouraging to hear and reminds us that the work of our LORD is not always easy just because we are called to it.
The conference was amazing, beautiful and spirit-filled. It was evident that the organizers, volunteers, and everyone involved had sought the Lord for direction. I love going to a conference and the volunteers actually LOOK HAPPY TO BE THERE. Not like this is an act of community service but they are apart of the team as if they were getting paid a million bucks an hour. The food was delicious and we had cute little goody bags. The speakers were all amazing and gave insights on finance as well as being great parents to how to continue in creativity throughout the worldwide of life. I commend the hard work and efforts of the women and men at New Vision International Ministries for their hardwork!
While I speak pretty regularly for work to pastors, leaders, and people of faith, regarding mental health and faith...I am always giddy and excited when I get to speak to women at women exclusive events. I have a video below about some of the information I provided.
There is something so powerful about a room full of hungry women who eagerly wait to receive a special blessing from the Lord. So special that they have left and sacrificed time with family, responsibilities as well as rest with the goal of meeting corporately with other women to enrich themselves in a few hours or in a day.
Being that I spoke about mental health and faith which are my research and personal interest I am always a bit of an anomaly because people most often do not believe the two can collide. For more information on that please check out my blog here on mental health and faith. But the intersectionality of the two is actually a beautiful marriage and one that is not new at all.
Thankfully there were other amazing women speaking on the two as well. I see taking care of your emotions, feelings, and thoughts as a necessary step in what the Bible calls "renewing your mind". I specifically spoke about the importance of seeing a mental health provider and not waiting until you perceive something to be wrong. It is my wish that like everything else pertaining to help and health, we would get regular check ups. We currently have a culture where we are taught we should see a medical doctor and dentist at least twice a year. But no one says "Did you make an appointment to see your primary care therapist yet?". It should, however, be the case. This is what I call a soul check.
Not only do I get my soul checked as a counselor and therapist I consider it a professional requirement to do so. Speaking about mental health and faith and more at The Replenish Conference this weekend was also a reminder of the roles and the responsibilities that we carry as women and the pressure that we put on ourselves to "always have it together". Just because we need to seek professional help does not mean that we are "not normal" or that "something is wrong". Reaching out for help actually means the opposite.
Now, although I was a speaker along with other women - I was also an attendee, just like every other beautiful woman there! I loved every bit of speaking but I also love gleaning, and being soaked in the spirit of Yahweh, that happens beautifully and corporately at Christian conferences. I learned so much at the conference but I want to focus on three specific aspects besides the word of God, that I am taking away. These aspects further detail the need for women's conferences and why I will make every attempt to attend one, once a year.
1. The GREAT ESCAPE
There is something very unique and special about changing the scenery. We carry so many of our own burdens and that of others as women. In part, because we are nurturers, caregivers along with other daily responsibilities like friends and employees. We are not, in most occasions held to the same importance as males and on average we are paid less for the same jobs in our society. This introduces another burden and stressor. It is spoken and unspoken that we are the sole caregiver and keeper of the home. We then add additional stress and pressures onto ourselves because we live in a society where we have to look like a barbie doll and have everything that Barbie has in order to be deserving of love or to have inherent value. But at a women's conference, there are no men to compete for or with. There are less societal pressures...we have for a moment in time - escaped! You are not subject to anyone's approval not even your own.
When you escape the demands of your family, the world and even yourself you have the opportunity to be pampered, cared for and loved on. You are also enriching, feeding and nurturing your soul. You go home a better and more in love with Jesus version of you than you that came. It is true soul care, and it is necessary for seeking the Lord; be it a conference or consecrated time away.
2. Making Friends!
One aspect of conferences that I love, love, love, love is that I get to make great new friends. Some of the people that I have met at conferences I am still great friends with till this day. One of my friends Anna was the first person I told when I became interested in my now husband. She has a great blog; check it out here. The beauty is that you are most often from a different part of the city or country. It is really cool to engage and fellowship with women from different denominations and cultures. It reminds us that there will not be a Baptist or Reformed section in heaven. There will also not be a section for those who keep the Sabbath on a Sunday or Saturday. But we will be more concerned about worshiping Jesus. I also enjoy hearing and seeing how others worship God and how they view him in light of who they are.
3. Never be Ashamed to go to the Alter
Whenever you are a speaker, singer, actress or any have any visible talent that leads a ministry it can be different and or difficult, to be honest about your struggles and even more difficult to go to the altar for prayer. As a speaker, I have realized that the temptation to appear more holy, spiritual or more learned is always there. That is why I love that John is very clear in saying Lord, let me decrease so that you would increase. John knew that Yahweh would not share His glory. He would not accept man being praised for something that God should get all the glory for. I love that although I am held in high esteem as one that has an in-depth knowledge of a topic and given the task to speak; however I am a ministry leader because God has called me and that is not mutually exclusive from my need for Him and my need to sometimes make a public display of that need at the altar. It is symbolic that at times that I need to release a burden or accept prayer.
It is often pride that will hold a leader back from the altar. The altar is the place where things must be laid down and that is sometimes the throne of self which is pride. The altar is a place of a great exchange. We are trading who we are for who He is. We should never miss the opportunity to do so. We especially should not let the fear of man and how we are perceived hold us back from releasing and walking in freedom in every area of our lives. I love when I see leaders at the altar and we saw that this weekend!
My love, I hope you make every effort to save your money and plan to attend a conference this year that is exclusive to your gender. In some cases if you really cannot afford it, consider reaching out to the organizers and explaining that you are in a bind financially. Sometimes people sponsor others to attend. Do not abuse the privilege but it is worth reaching out about. Comment below and let us know what you love and how you thrive after a conference.
La'Shay S. Crayton 2017 Replenish Conference