Originally published Thursday, 21 January 2016.
First of all, Happy 2016! I wanted to begin the year by reflecting on an memorable experience from last fall. It was then that I attended Q Women down in Nashville, Tennessee. For those of you who don't know, Q Women is a conference that focuses on how our faith can and should inform our daily lives. Rather than giving us the answers, however, its design is to ask the right questions to get us thinking. The conference features a variety of speakers who highlight different life disciplines (the examples I heard ranged from body image to homemaking, the work/home balance to healing from a painful past). Attendees not only benefit from the material, but from the fellowship opportunities. The conference is a powerful collective of women who want to be faith-filled and faithful to God's promptings.
The opening speaker was author and Q cofounder Rebekah Lyons. Truth be told, Rebekah personally invited me to the conference because I contacted her in appreciation for her book. She wrestles with issues such as risk, healing, and calling in Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning. So appropriately, I am going to share with you what I particularly found insightful in her book in those three categories.
The book gets its name because Rebekah goes into a freefall of sorts after making a risky decision at God's bidding. Leaving their support network behind, her family moves to New York City. She subsequently suffers from anxiety attacks as she juggles isolation and purpose. As readers, we get to see how God uses this difficult time to bring her out better than before.
When I heard Rebekah speak at Q Women, she described how much easier it is to stay in our yoga pants, curled up on the sofa, and reading a good book. But, she says, there are days when God calls us to move out of our comfort zone. We have to get up, "put on our big girl pants," and risk being faithful. In her experience, it's worth it.
Rebekah is transparent in her struggles with approval seeking, identity searching, and mental health. While her memoir-driven story is unique, the statistics that accompany her book are not. Did you know that 18.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with depression, and women are a whopping 70 percent more likely than men to experience it?
She writes, "One in four women will suffer some form of depression in her lifetime. From anxiety attacks, as in my case, to mood disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and so on, women are under siege. And the majority of women who are wrestling with depression fit nicely in the twenty-five to forty-four-year-old age bracket. We aren't depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives. During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck."
Rebekah is able to find healing through her relationship with God. I can't help but wonder how God wants to care for and direct other women who are suffering too. What can we do to support other women our age and how can God work redemptively?
When I heard Rebekah speak at Q Women, she defined calling as an act of obedience. In other words, God will tell us what to do and whom he's created us to be; it's our job to listen and follow. Further, following unlocks blessing. Rebekah says fulfilling her calling has felt like walking around "with so much joy my heart could burst." That is how good God is!
Rebekah finds her calling to be a writer in the book. That purpose not only unlocks her own potential, but whispers to the gifts waiting to be uncovered in each of us...What a great thought to consider as we begin a new year!
Rebekah and me at Q Women