An Open Letter to ICC Ladies

Dear Iron City Women,

We did it! We made it through our first round of Coffee & Convos events! We even started a blog! We got real. We got honest. We experienced healing. We experienced freedom. We did it – well, actually, God did it. And you know what, I believe He was wanting to do it all along. I think so often ladies, we get in the way of getting to experience all of the joys the Lord longs to offer us. Why? Oftentimes, fear. We are afraid of what He may have. Sometimes, it’s selfishness. We don’t stop long enough to look up instead of looking down. Sometimes it’s self-pity. We don’t believe we deserve it. And sometimes, it’s unbelief. We don’t fully believe that He would actually want to use us, work in us, take us on adventures, reveal Himself, the list can literally go on… but I don’t care about the list because: YOU. DID. IT.

You showed up. You bought in. You were raw. You shared your stories. You opened up about things you’ve carried for so long. You said “Screw you, Fear!” You looked up instead of down – because His face is better than your feet, no matter how cute your shoes may be. You took a brave step forward and said, “I may not understand the details, but I’ll fight to believe what You say. I’ll fight to believe You.” And I want you to know that I’m proud of you.

When we started C&C, I taught on Identity in Christ. We talked about how we would never be able to talk about the issues this life throws at us, the lies the enemy taunts us with, the sin we find ourselves entangled in – without knowing first who our God is. We can’t know who we are and who He created us to be without first knowing who He is and His character. So some of our women were brave. They brought their stories, details, and tears and they shared. They shared with us the burdens they carried, most of whom still carry bits and pieces of said burden. We heard about crippling anxiety and deafening depression. We heard women share about forgiving men who sexually abused them, taking what wasn’t theirs to take. We heard women share of how sexual immorality wreaked utter havoc on their lives. We heard women share of their eating disorders and their disordered eating. And when we didn’t hear those stories. We read others on the blog. So many others. So many incredible, strong, brave, beautiful women sharing their stories with the boldness only God could instill. And yet, it didn’t stop there

So many of you women didn’t just show up to C&C to hear a story. You came and you identified with these sisters. And you engaged. You dug up the past. You took hard looks in the mirror. You confessed the ick in your lives. You found accountability. You threw off your shackles. But most of all sisters, you GOT UP AND WALKED.

You could walk because of freedom and you didn’t do a thing to earn it. See that’s the funny thing about this freedom thing. It was already won for you. You don’t have to do anything for it. Just show up [to life] and engage [with truth] and accept the precious gift [given by the ultimate Giver]. Your freedom was bought at such a high price. So why on earth would you waste it? Stand up and walk forth from the shackles that you’re sitting in. They’re unlocked baby. Just stand up and walk. I know it’s scary and that the voices around you are loud and telling you that you’re stuck. But my dear, if you believe what our Father says to you and about you and about His love for you, you’ll be able to ignore the voices. You’ll be able to walk in the freedom already won for you and you’ll be able to live!

Live and live fully. There is a life out there for you and a story written specifically for you to live. But you’ll never be able to if you stay stuck in the dark corner of your sin, pain, and shame. Oh those clinical struggles you have? Baby girl, that doesn’t make you “less than” – it forces your dependence on a Savior who cares deeply for you. Don’t you know none of that was a shock to God? He loves you in spite of the very things you think disqualify you. So heck yeah! I’m freaking proud of each of you. Shoot, I’m proud of myself. And I’m thankful. I’m thankful I’ve gotten to walk the highs of the mountaintops and the pits of valleys with you women.

I hope that you spend this summer chasing Jesus and dancing in the hard, messy, beautiful life He’s gifted to you. I hope you remember that nothing, not a single thing is wasted. I hope you travel this summer. I hope you go overseas, go home, go next door, go somewhere else and see that God is still there. I hope you meet someone new and you ask them the stories that are embedded in the wrinkles in their eyes. I hope you slow down long enough to listen. I hope you’re bold. I hope you sit down with your Bible (and journals – aye external processers!) and you confess the ick and sin from yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But then, reach out and grab hold of the forgiveness offered in His gracious hand. I hope you take time to meditate on the past few months – the idols and fears identified, but mostly the truth that supersedes those things. Search the scriptures. Find the truth. Fight for it because it’s worth it. You’re worth it. He is worth it.

I’m thankful this first round of C&C had us work through some “Self-Stuff.” Because in the fall ladies, we’ll hit on how we interact with the uncontrollable. Remember, we’re all just a bunch of sinners trying to figure this life thing out – some of us wandering aimlessly, some of us with the secret key (aka Jesus – the secret you need to share). So let’s get real again! I’ll see you in August to recap who He is and what that means for us. September, we’re jumpin’ into Family Matters – Mama Drama & Daddy Issues. October, we’ll talk about grief. Grief’s a part of our lives and suffering is promised. So we should probs wake up to that reality. December we’ll usher in Advent and talk about Waiting – whether that’s a spouse (where my single ladies at?!); children (infertility – when the option of kids isn’t an option); and healing (chronic illness – when the doctor tells you there’s no flipping cure and it’s the 21st century). We’re going there ladies. Not just to have the hard conversations – but to see and engage in the freedom our Jesus gave His life for so that we could have. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of the enemy pushing me around. I will enjoy the crazy story God’s writing – with every high and low and upside down twist and turn, even the mistakes. And I get to – because of the freedom He gifted to me. He gifted it to you too sis. Open the gift.

So BE FREE my sweet sister. Be free.

Love Forever & Always,