We’re counting down to April 26 & 27 when our (in) real life conference kicks off! In the meantime, this month we’re delighted to be featuring a few of our favorite posts from women who participated in last year’s event. We’re sharing them here so you can get a peek at what all the excitement is about. Then be sure and register here — it’s FREE!
Did I ever tell you about the time I didn’t go to Hilton Head with the ladies from (in)courage? Who am I kidding? Of course I didn’t tell you. It’s not something I like to brag about. Because it’s not brag-worthy. But it’s the truth.
For each of the past three years, DaySpring has invited the writers of (in)courage to a retreat at a beach house on Hilton Head Island. The first year I received the email inviting me to join the crew, I nearly fell off my chair with excitement. I got up and danced around the family room. I slid across the kitchen floor a la Tom Cruise (with pants on). I could not believe I was being given such an amazing opportunity! I was rejoicing! My husband had to bob and weave to keep from running into me as I cavorted about in my glee.
Well, the closer the time came for the actual get together, the more nervous I became. I’d read the words those brilliant and brave (in)courage women wrote and I’d feel less and less sure that I would fit in. My resolve began to seep out of my pores like garlic after a meal at the Italian restaurant downtown. I kept “forgetting” to book my flight.
In the end, I made an excuse and I stayed home that weekend. I regretted every minute of it. Photos and blog posts about the retreat on Hilton Head were all over the internet, all weekend long. For weeks and months afterward, those photos and blog posts just kept coming. I was miserable. I cried. I sulked. I chided myself for being so small and so weak.
At the end of that miserable weekend, my husband looked at me and said, “Listen. If they ever do that Hilton Head thing again, or if they ever meet up anywhere, anytime, ever again…you’re going. Whatever it takes. You’re going.” He hardly ever tells me what to do, and when he does, he’s not joking. He’s dead serious.
So, the next year, I went. And it was glorious. We’re just women. Women who don’t have all the answers, and who laugh loudly, and who cry big tears when our hearts have been broken. We have fears and insecurities and amazing talent and spectacular faith in God. And sometimes our faith disintegrates into dust and we do the wrong thing or speak the wrong words. Because we’re women. Just like you.
I’m telling you this because I know there are women who didn’t get to (in)RL last year – for whatever reason. I know there was a lot of talking and Tweeting about it. There were photos. Lots of photos. And it may seem as if you were the only person who didn’t experience (in)RL.
Maybe you tend to shy away from community altogether. Maybe the thought of trying to fit in sends you into a panic. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been there. But you should know that, when you’re not there, you are missed. I want you to know that yes, you’ll fit in! You might sweat through your t-shirt, or lose your breakfast on your way to the small group, or lose sleep the night before. But it will be worth it. It will. We were meant for each other. God made us for community. As bad as that sweaty shirt, or lost breakfast, or sleepless night might sound, they don’t come close to living life without community.
How do you feel about walking into a group of women you’ve never met?
Have you ever talked yourself out of an opportunity to experience community?
You’re each invited, you know. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s so rewarding to connect with other sisters in Christ beyond the blog post. Tune in from home on Friday to watch the Webcast and meetup with friends on Saturday and watch together. Go on, you’re much braver than you think. Just CLICK HERE to register.Leave a Comment
Leigh Kay says
I just love your heart my writer friend. 🙂 Every time you share a bit of yourself is a beautiful thing. Thank you for writing!
Sarah Markley says
i love you girl! i’m hosting this year so I won’t be left out. So exciting!
YAY! Your meet up will be fabulous!
Brave girl. I do this all the time! Thanks for helping me realize that I’m not the only one! Let’s be brave together.
You are definitely not the only one! That’s why together is best. We need each other. All of us.
Tonya Salomons says
I registered yesterday… and I’m already terrified… but I know that God is going to do good work in April… stunning work… Praying that my nerves settle just a wee bit!
Nerves or not, I’m praying you press through to see all God has in store for you, girlfriend!
I loved this and completely get it. Thanks for sharing!
It’s us! That was a wonderful day and I’m so glad you ladies hosted it here! I WAS nervous and was inwardly shaking about meeting people I’d never met in person but I’m so glad I went anyway! This is so important to say right now and I’m thankful you are saying it Deidra.
How do I feel when walking into a group of women I’ve never met…hmmm…that’s a long story! I used to struggle with deep-seated anxiety about it. I’d either talk myself out of going or I’d physically tremble and hyperventilate on the drive over. Ugh, it was awful! No matter what I did it wouldn’t stop. But a few things have happened since then – first, God started working on me and things gradually began to get better. Second, I went on medication for post-partum depression and that seemed to lift some kind of haze from my mind and I am functioning in a completely new, refreshing way now. So now it’s not so much of an issue. 🙂
The feelings you describe are very real, and you are brave to share them here. Melissa, you are not the only one who has had this experience. I hope others reading here today find courage from your words. Thank you so much for this!
Liza lee grace says
There was the time I quit going to a women’s group at church…because I was having panic attacks at the thought of going. And these were some of the kindest women…all were people I wanted to get to know better. That was many years ago. Now, when walking into a group like that, I still get incredibly anxious.
I signed up for (in)RL on Monday. I’m considering hosting, but part of me is already making excuses why I shouldn’t. The only reason I wouldn’t is that my kids’ baseball practice or games might interfere. But I won’t know the game schedule until March…it’s way too early for me to make a decision based on that.
I’m beginning to think that I need to host simply because I’m freaking out over the thought of it. My life is way too comfortable, and I know I’ve not followed Gods direction because of fear…and missed out big-time. I don’t want that to happen again.
That anxiety is real, and shared by so many of us! It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one. It’s so worth it to push through that anxiety and experience the rich friendships that are possible on the other side, isn’t it?
Tina U. # 3 says
I’m finally going to have the courage to do this. And pray God will move this group to move in a powerful way, to help us get out of our shell, ecspecially mine. Thank-you Lord!! And perhaps I want to have new adventures. 🙂
So glad to read this! It’s no small thing to step out of your shell – or your comfort zone. I’m trusting God will meet you there!
Barb Kennedy says
It look like so much fun and such a community of woman who love God and not afraid to be honest. It is such an encouragement to hear how we are the same fear, self conscious I could relate so easy to your story thank you for sharing and I continue to read your blog
I have huge anxieties about walking in to a group of anyone I don’t know. This is an opportunity for growth and inspiration.
Your title got my attention. I grew up on HHI,SC I miss the beach!
Lucky you! The beach is my favorite (she said, from her couch in her house in Nebraska)!
Oh, Deidre, I love you! You write exactly the way I think. I did not (in)RL last year – I CAN’T walk into a group of women I don’t know – I just can’t! Although I’d leap at the Hilton Head chance – of course, I know all of you!
But, you’ll be proud of me – I have already signed up for this year. The only place “near” is about 45 minutes away, so that’s even scarier – I have no chance of knowing those ladies! My husband thinks I should host. How’s that for scary! But thank you for writing your truth – you’re not alone.
So proud of you! And the big-ness of this is not lost on me. It’s scary, indeed. But oh, so worth it!
Beth Williams says
I used to be really really shy and had trouble even talking to people. God worked on me and he has brought me out of my shell–enough to give me courage to get up in front of people and do sign language.
Love going to women’s weekends. I signed up yesterday and am already looking forward to seeing all of you!
I’m new to this site (and still learning what it is all about in all honesty) but I felt like I wanted to reply after reading this post. Due to my husband’s job, we move around a LOT and you would think I would be realllyyyy good at meeting new people because of it. But, that is unfortunately not the case. That coupled with my shyness is not a great combination. Sometimes after meeting someone (or even with people I already know!) I find myself doing a lot of self-critiquing 🙁 I have not had REAL friends in YEARS (other than a few high school friends and/or college friends here and there that I have kept in touch with). And, ironically, I find that I really need and crave women friends more and more as I get older…
Thank you for sharing!
miss honey says
there’s really not a more beautiful place to relax with yourself or your spouse/friends than hilton head island…..i’ve only spent winter days there, on occasion, but think it could be a most happy spot to dwell in. love the pics of the house you were in….where abouts did you rent that from?? ps. you could send that to my e mail address if you would….thanks
Brooke Burger says
To people like me who are older and not tech savy at all, can someone please explain exactly how this is supposed to work? Do you have to be online the whole time? I have never done anything like this and really don’t get it. Sorry.
inRL is actually a chance to gather together and meet up with friends we’ve met online — right here at (in)courage — in real life. You can sign up for a meet up in a town near you. The video will be available online, too, for those who can’t make it to a meet up. But, ideally, you’d get to spend a couple of hours in community with women like you, who live near you. Does that help?
Symone Brown says
Walking into a group of women I’ve never met, scares me. It reminds me of a time back in high school – feeling as if all eyes were on me and thinking everyone would judge me wrongly or would want to tear or bring me down. I have shied away from community and I dislike being shy around meeting new people. I have this fear of judgment and I am willing to give it up. I’m beginning to think that anyone I meet, will be supportive of me – nothing how I used to think. I have often talked myself out of an opportunity to experience community because of this fear. But now, I badly want community and friends. I see it in my daydreams and how I think my future would be! Talking myself out of a great opportunity, is painful and is something I regret. Since I want community, I shouldn’t pass on this wonderful opportunity. Already, I’ve told one friend about this (in)RL conference and have found one meetup in my city. I am thinking about registering.
Kaitlyn @ (in)courage says
Hi Symone, thanks for sharing your story…you’re right, sometimes community is scary and judge-y and we get nervous…but true community will come around you and love and support you. We were made for community! I hope you’ll register and be part of (in)RL, who knows what friendships might come of it!
Laura Parker says
I love your honesty in this! Seriously, I think this is something we can all relate to– the comfort of hiding, of playing small, of not showing up.
Thanks for honestly telling us when you did, and thanks for not doing that now. 🙂
leah prescott burgess says
Great post. Definitely normalizes and validated stuff in me, a week i travel for work but will see my besties while there. These women make me feel wantes but i still have a bit of anxiety (i didn’t lose the weight i hoped to, my hair isn’t as long as i wanted…). All superficial stuff but anxiety nkne the less. #Psalm133 all the way!