CLC Women’s Panel

“We are all relevant to each other,” Holly Edward reminded the women of CLC on September 25th. She continued that our age or life stage isn’t the most relevant factor we all share, but Christ. I think that beautifully sums up the immensely encouraging evening as those in attendance were able to hear seven of our own beloved ladies answer some questions in a panel discussion.

The panel was comprised of a wondrously diverse group of women: along with Holly was April Burgess, Blessing Ekanem, Lynnette, Amanda Casper, Jackey Perry and Tonya Walker. These women are each in different life situations and their stories vary widely, but their love for Jesus and for people is clearly what matters what most about them. It was such a privilege to hear their thoughts on a variety of topics.

I had a really rough day that Friday, and though none of the women directly addressed my struggle, the Lord spoke powerfully to me through them as they held out the Word and the wisdom they’ve gleaned from it. I had been trying to remind myself of some specific truths about God as I went about my day, but these women put flesh onto some of those very same truths as they shared about how God has carried them through various difficulties.

Hearing one woman talk about singleness spoke right to my heart about my discontentment in a different area; hearing another share about parenting frustrations provided me deep comfort about something else. That’s the power of walking with women who don’t have the same experiences as you: you see God sustain them and you can grow in confidence that He will sustain you too. You can look past what you have in common and just see the steadfast love of God.

Here are some highlights from the evening that really stuck out to me:

Cultivating Friendships within CLC

  • Jackey reminded us to be the kind of friend we are hoping to find. Quoting Paul Miller in A Loving Life, she encouraged us not to just look for community but to create it. Later she mentioned we can be self-serving in our pursuit of other women and only try to do what’s easiest for ourselves, but we need to ask God to help us value and desire relationships with women outside our life stage to the extent that we are driven to pursue them.
  • Blessing wisely suggested that we pray for God to opens doors for relationships with others. If we seek a friendship with another woman and it doesn’t seem to go anywhere and she doesn’t seem to want to reciprocate that friendship, we shouldn’t just give up and surrender to isolation, but should try pursuing a different friendship!
  • April observed that “Vulnerability breeds vulnerability. No one loves to bare their soul, but when you do, it’s a beautiful thing.”
  • Holly encouraged us to work on the skill of asking questions. She pointed out that we might tend to hide behind surface-level answers in a text or an email, but everyone wants to be known, so we need to be intentional about drawing that out in others and offering it ourselves.

Suffering and Encouraging Those Who Are Suffering

  • Lynnette shared about the power of presence, just being there with those who are suffering. She shared a beautiful testimony of how you might be really blessed by those who are suffering, just by being in the hospital room with them in the midst of trauma.
  • Amanda said that though we feel the need to speak, sometimes all we need to do is listen and empathize, and weep with those who weep.
  • When asked how we can speak into the life of someone walking through a circumstance we’ve never personally experienced, Holly pointed out that situations are so unique and there will be plenty of things we’ve never gone through. Still, we can love without having factual information or experience. It can be really good for us to walk with someone who’s suffering through things we’ve never dealt with, because it can give us the opportunity to live life with more of an open mind of how God works among and loves His people.
  • April reminded us that suffering is suffering, and it’s not helpful to compare.
  • Tonya answered a question about weariness as a mom, but her encouragement was definitely applicable to any situation that asks much of you: “Don’t listen to the world. The world steers you towards selfishness, but love is sacrificial.” The world will tell us we need more “me-time” or an outside fulfillment, but the path of love according to Christ is one of self-denial.

I’ve listened to panel discussions at conferences before, but it was such a richer and deeper experience getting to hear from women I actually know, love and observe. What started out for me as a day full of grumbling against the Lord ended in worship and confidence in His love for me. His love was written so clearly over the women of Covenant Life—those in the panel and those listening—that it was impossible to miss His love for me as well.

Hope Henchey

Posted on: October 6, 2015 - 10:34AM

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