We had a big event for the women at our church this past weekend. Every other year we plan a home-grown retreat/conference for women in our church. Sometimes it is held nearby at a hotel or retreat center but this year we choose to do it all "in house" meaning we met at church and use our own speakers & musicians. The other (of every other) years, we plan a weekend away to a big event involving national speakers in arena settings where we worship, study (and sometimes cry) with thousands of women from all backgrounds and denominations.
Part of my job involves supporting the women's ministry at our church so I had responsibilities through out the weekend. I knew my Friday would blur from work to weekend without a break so I planned for reinforcements. Some things in my survival kit included snacks (chocolate), comfortable shoes, a change of clothes, and my essential make-up bag. My essential make up bag contains the 4-5 things that I think are necessary to put on a publicly presentable face. I have yet to find makeup that lives up to the "All Day" or "Long Wearing" hype. These few items would be necessary to freshen up my face at the end of a workday. Sure enough, there only a few minutes to spare between clocking out and before the first ladies arrived. There was just enough time to check my teeth and smear on a new layer of lipstick. Not the full fresh face I had hoped for but it would have to do.
During the Friday night portion of the retreat, seven women had been asked to share their stories of how God met them when Life Happened. Openly and honestly they shared of self-esteem issues, job loss, a marriage on the brink of dissolution, drug addiction, breast cancer, and loss of a spouse/aging. I knew each of these women personally. For some of them, I knew what a work of God it was that they could even stand before a group to share their story. Around our tables, there was a time to share in small groups and the discussion at my table was equally authentic. Others reported women at their table who felt free enough to share deep issues for which they were requesting prayer and seeking wisdom.
What an incredible evening of openness!
I had been concerned with fixing my face and being "presentable".
These precious women came to be real.