This year was my first Women of Faith. It was a powerful, redeeming, healing, life-changing experience for me.
Walking into Women of Faith I was nervous and mired in shame. I have a history ripe with pain — abuse, rape, infertility, divorce, etc. — and I spent my life feeling that I was invalid to the world of shiny Christianity, or feared condemnation. I would walk out with my head held high, believing I was not only valid and worthy in God’s eyes, but also had something to offer and excited to get busy rather than hiding.
I cried through nearly every talk as I felt God telling me again and again, “See? You don’t need to hide anymore. I gave you your story. That is a gift for you to connect with others, to help others see who I am and who you really are.”
One of the most powerful moments for me was the Jesus painting. A good friend was sitting next to me — she also had a father who caused pain. Just when the painter put the second eye on Jesus, my friend leaned over and said, “That’s our real dad.” Then, we hugged and cried. I was amazed. Jesus’ eyes looked so real. They looked sad, but soft and reaching. I felt like an adoptee must feel when he meets his forever family for the first time. In my head I kept saying, “Daddy! It’s you! It’s you!”
Another powerful moment was during the Selah concert. My dad, who was a painful person in my past, sang for events often. His favorite songs were hymns like How Great Thou Art. I had steered clear of any of those songs since I last saw my dad as a teenager in 1991. They were too painful.
By the time Selah was on the third or fourth note of the intro to How Great Thou Art, I knew. I collapsed into my chair and sobbed through the song. By the end I wasn’t crying hurting tears; I was crying healing tears. Selah sang three of my dad’s favorite hymns. I also cried through the second one. By Great is Your Faithfulness I sat silently, my knees curled against my chest, my hands on my forehead, smiling in redemption.
I left acutely aware that I am worthy and valid in God’s eyes and that I have something to offer. I may not be a speaker (just yet anyway), but I can write. Through writing I can offer myself and my story to others, so they might catch a glimpse of God and the healing and redemption he offers. I came home and launched a blog the next day with only my passion and complete trust for God fueling me.
Read Shawna’s blog at ofprepositionsprayerandplaydough.com