Here’s a story I’ve never told you. It’s an old story, and it is one of the touchstones in my life. That’s not to say I think about it all of the time. But, when I do think of it, it’s one of my very best memories. It may take me a lot of words to tell you this story, but you will be rewarded in the end. Oh, yes you will. Here goes:
Being married to H and raising our children is one of the best things that ever happened to me. H is the man of my dreams. For real. And my children? Well, I loved those two people with all of my heart. I still do. They were (and are) the joy of my life. I was way too strident in my child-rearing approach, though. I was too heavy-handed with the religion and morality expectations, but that’s a story for a different day. My point here is to make sure you understand that I loved those years with our young family. I need you to understand that part so I can tell you the next thing.
Always, as my children were growing up and my husband was establishing himself in his ministry, I felt as if there was something different for me. Not better. Just different. At the end of the day, after the children had been fed and bathed and read to and tucked in, after they’d gone to sleep and H and I lay together beneath the sheets with my leg draped across his, I’d say, “I wonder what I’m supposed to do?” I just felt as if there was something … else.
If you’re reading this, and you’ve wondered that same thing about your life, I want you to hang in here with me. Because I want you to know I understand the questioning. I understand how the question sometimes makes a person feel guilty — especially when you look around the dinner table and realize the life you have is beautiful. How can there be anything else? you may argue with yourself. I completely understand.
Well, one day, all those years ago, I heard about a women’s event called Women of Faith. It was a group of women — all of whom I’d never heard of. My only connection to this group of women was Charles Swindoll. My mom and dad had introduced me to Dr. “Chuck” Swindoll’s teachings years before, and I’d read practically all of his books. My parents had been on a cruise with “Chuck” back in the day, and they had come home beaming. Chuck’s sister, Luci was part of the Women of Faith lineup and I was ready for an afternoon just for me. So, I scraped together some pennies and bought myself a ticket to the Women of Faith Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, way back in the year 2000. I had no expectations, and I didn’t even plan to stay for the entire time.
I went to the conference all by myself. My seat was at the very top of the arena, in the very last tier of seats, and at the very tip-top of many long flights of stairs. According to the clock, I arrived late. But I was actually right on time.
Have you ever been to a Women of Faith event? Have you ever experienced an arena filled with women, singing songs about God and faith and questions and hope? When I walked into that arena, and as I climbed the stairs, the music filled all the spaces in the building and in my heart. I can’t tell you what the song was, but I know I was singing along and raising my hands as I climbed the stairs to my seat. Walking up the stairs, I was able to see the faces of the women in the arena as I passed them, on my way to my seat. They were so beautiful, and I — breathlessly making my way up those stairs —was touched by their worship. Before I reached my seat my face was wet with tears.
Once I reached my seat and settled myself in, I turned around to get my very first glimpse of the stage. I had never seen anything like this before. I’d been to concerts in arenas before. But this was different. There was something powerful and liberating and holy and special going on in that place. As I faced the stage and took everything in, my questioning heart received an answer.
OK. So, let me clarify something here. Because I am about to tell you God “said” something to me. I don’t mean to say I actually heard an audible voice. And, the only reason I can say with any element of surety that it was God is because it couldn’t have been anything else (weak argument, I know), and because what that voice “spoke” to me all those years ago, has actually happened.
Standing there, gazing at the stage, I felt a promise drop into my heart and that promise was this, “You are going to have a ministry, too. You are going to speak to women for me, and you are going to help them experience what you’re experiencing right now.” It was just a moment, but it was a moment where I knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking there might be something … else. Honestly, I didn’t linger on that promise (or, you may prefer to call it a thought, and that would be fine). I moved into the Women of Faith event and found myself laughing and crying and taking notes in my head and learning there were women out there who were (and are!) doing fantastic things because of their faith, and because of grace. For many years after my first Women of Faith event, I kept going back. Some years, I went with women I hardly knew. Sometimes, I went with dear friends. Some years, I stayed overnight in hotels and other years I commuted back and forth each day.
The women of Women of Faith were pioneers for so many of us. They spoke our language and helped so many of us find our voice. This year is the Farewell Tour for Women of Faith. This year, we get to thank them by showing up, the same way they have shown up for us over all these years — going from city to city to let us know we aren’t alone and that laughter heals us and that God isn’t as far away as we may have been led to believe. This year — when I have got two feet solidly planted in some kind of growing ministry thing that God is weeding and watering and throwing sun on, despite my humanity and my doubting and fearing and testing out his faithfulness to see if it will stick. This year, when Women of Faith and the women who so boldly led so many of us into the realization of the answers to our questions (“I wonder what I’m supposed to do?” Is that you?), they reached out to me (!) with an invitation to write a few words and extend an invitation to you (!).
I hadn’t told too many people my Women of Faith story before my conversation with Jen, the sweet woman who called me from Women of Faith. I told her how a promise/thought was dropped into my lap, all those years ago when I was wondering if there might be something else. And I told her how — fifteen years later — I am living into that promise. Jen reminded me the theme of this Farewell Tour is: “You are seen. You are known. You are free.” It’s true. I can’t think of a greater honor than to stand here in my little spot on the Internet and invite you to Women of Faith, in the location that works best for you. After all these years, the women who will be speaking at this year’s event are so very dear to me, and you probably know them, too. Women of Faith is offering $20 off tickets to this year’s Farewell Tour, for readers of JumpingTandem. To register and receive your discount, visit the registration page and enter DRIGGS20 when you check out.
Only you know if God seems to have saved a little space in your heart (yes, even among all that is already so beautiful) for something … else. If you feel as if there might be a promise/thought you need to hear, I’d encourage you not to push it to the side or feel guilty about what might be stirring up on the inside. Live fully where you are. Enjoy the moments and the love and the laughter and the wonder and the mystery of the place God has you right this very moment. But don’t push aside the possibility that another season may have something else wrapped up in itself, especially for you.
Back in those days when I was wondering if there might be something else for me, God reminded me that he gives us the desires of our hearts. On the phone, Jen and I tripped over each other with our words, so excited that we understood that promise in the same way! It’s (at least) a two-layered promise: Not only is God the one who can fulfill our desires to impact the world for good; God is also the one who puts those desires in our hearts in the first place. He sees you. He knows you. He is the one who can free you to live fully into every good thing he has in store. And, while you wait to see what that might be, gather up a few friends, and give yourself over to the Women of Faith Tour when it comes to an arena near you. Don’t forget to use the code (DRIGGS20) to receive $20 off each ticket!
Details for your planning purposes:
Regular Price of Standard Ticket: $99
Regular Price of a Premium Ticket: $109
Prices include all event sessions (lunch not included)
Find out about local hotels at the Women of Faith website
Some questions for you: Have you been to Women of Faith? If so, what are some takeaways that you can share with us? Have you ever wondered if there’s something else for you? What are some of the touchstone moments of your life?