My heart is full. Grateful and encouraged. Challenged and motivated in a new way. The world needs my unique voice. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Because until this weekend, I didn’t truly believe it. Fear of failure, fear of unabashed authenticity, and the cloying suspicion that I am a fraud lingering on the fringes of the real writing community have been running a protection racket on my heart, promising that if I keep my writing safe and neutrally palatable, they won’t let any critic hurt me.
The Faith and Culture Writers Conference, held at Multnomah University, let open the flood gates this weekend, washing away those inhibitions.
It was filmmaker Dan Merchant who said, “Be fearless, tireless, excellent: opportunities are created, access is possible.”
So, when Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack gave me that genuine, godly hug, the stranglehold of doubt began to lose its potency (more on that in a moment).
When Ken Wytsma took a moment to share a greeting and discuss his book, Pursuing Justice, I remembered that I can be part of the larger conversation.
When the many volunteers, leaders, speakers and fellow attendees of the conference showed me kindness, it made me feel like part of a much larger, diverse family.
The general session presentations by Wm Paul Young, Ken Wytsma, Paul Louis Metzger, Phil Long, Brian Doyle, and Dan Merchant were amazing.
The worship was genuine and uplifting. That is, it was about God, and taking us into God’s presence.
The three workshops I attended were practical and insightful. Thank you Cornelia Seigneur, Jenni Burke, and Matt Mikalatos.
My very brief mentoring appointment with Ana Brors opened up a world of possibilities.
And when Cornelia Seigneur invited me to enjoy lunch with her beautiful family, well, that spoke volumes.
I promised I would return to my encounter with Wm Paul Young. After our hug, I told him I had a confession to make. “I’ve not read your book. I’m probably the only person on the planet not to do so…” He just shrugged and grinned as if to say that’s okay. I then added, “It’s one thing to hear second hand from people who have formed assumptions about you from their reading of the book or reviews of it. It’s quite another to meet you in person and hear your heart, and experience your genuine care.”
And that’s the essence of what I’m taking from this conference. Is there room for improvement? Of course. The biggest need for improvement is your participation next year.
Are you in? Let’s talk…