You have to know that I’m a conference junkie. I’m a 100% auditory learner, which is maybe an exaggeration since I do most of my learning through books, but still. I’m a lecture-lover at my core. Talk to me with your stories and your bullet points and your sound bytes of glorious quotability, and I will be yours forever. It’s a proven theorem.

I went to the Belong Tour this weekend. It’s the Christian women’s spinoff of Women of Faith. It’s the same formatting (and perhaps the same white chairs on stage), all now rewritten and structured for the rising generation of women thinkers and leaders. In other words, far less humor about hot flashes and menopause, more guidance about thinking and dreaming and becoming, all rooted in the agreement that every woman gets a seat at this table.belong

The women on that stage and on this tour are seriously some of my favorites on the planet. There’s Shauna Niequist, whom I just really want to invite me over for dinner. I want her conversation, her laughter, and all of her recipes. I feel like we can BoyMom it up together.

There’s Patsy Clairmont, who’s a combination of your wise, darling grandma and your colorful, eccentric art teacher. (My friend Sarah leaned over to say, “Don’t you feel like you want her to be your grandma?” Well, since I’ve been traveling to ‘visit her’ once a year for the last decade, I do kind of actually feel like she is my grandma.)

There’s Jen Hatmaker, who is every girlfriend’s best girlfriend. She’s who we need, you guys. Peter recently called me out on some Jen-Hatmaker-hero-worship. I am prayerfully considering this respectful admonition, but not in any drastic ways like fasting from her books or any such nonsense. And anyway, I prefer to refer to my practice of study as “learning from a mentor in my field,” thank you very much.

It’s possible that Jen Hatmaker’s talk resonated also with anyone other than me, since she very well owned the stage, made us laugh, and set us all in motion to take ourselves and our gifts seriously. But I’m not kidding when I say that I felt like she was talking just to me. She talked laughably about her many early years of writing books nobody read, and she set me free to put my yes on the table, to simply show up for my own life with the gifts God has given me, and to trust him with the outcomes.hatmakerimg_3791

I wrote voraciously, taking notes like a wild woman and storing it all in my heart.

And then she quoted Marianne Williamson, in A Return to Love, and I sat up straight like a sunflower facing the sun, letting the truth wash over me and set my confidence free.

She said,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.”

Well, that’ll preach. Actually, it did. Quite fantastically.

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