Once upon a time, there was a small girl, who lived in a small world. It may have been a small world but it was also a busy world with noisy, polluted darkness. And all the noise and all the darkness made her sad and lonely and very afraid.
Even so, every day she would wake up, hoping beyond hope that maybe, just maybe, the sun would shine.
“Maybe this day will be better?”, she thought inside herself, trying to push the dark, noisy clouds in her head away. Even though she knew things would never change, she still hoped.
Days turned into months that turned into years, and as time passed the clouds became raging storms and the noise faithfully grew and grew until one day, she realized, no one heard her. No one knew she was there. No one was coming to rescue her. The sun was never going to shine.
As the darkness grew, tangling itself around her heart and mind like creeping vines, so did the little girl.
She grew into a grown up and she became a mama. And then a Christian and then a wife. But all those years of living in that small, noisy, dark and lonely world had kept her a little girl inside. Hidden away, where she hoped the shadows and scary things couldn’t find her anymore.
I went to the Allume conference out of obedience. Confession: I didn’t want to go. I had been there all three years prior, I had had amazing, life-changing experiences, met amazing people, etc. I was good. Besides, it’s been a very hard year and I just wanted to be home, hidden away with my family.
But God had a plan. He always does.
He provided a ticket, and then a hotel room complete with roommates and everything. Not to mention the cheapest airfare ever (even after all my procrastination-sorry, Lord). I guess He really wanted me to go. I’m so glad I finally embraced His leading. From that moment on, I began to pray, not for myself, but for everyone else. I wanted the Lord to use me to bless His daughters by being a servant to them in whatever way He wanted to use me, which, I pray did happen.
Little did I know what God had in store for ME.
One of the first evenings I found myself in the comforting and inviting prayer room, (hosted by The Seed Company, LOVE THEM!). I had gone there because I had felt an inner heaviness that I wasn’t expecting. I just knew I wanted to find a quiet spot to pray about what it could be. As I sat there, two sweet women asked if I wanted prayer. I hesitatingly agreed, having this feeling something bigger was going to take place.
As I tried to tell them what I needed prayer for, words fumbled out and eluded me. I became undone.
I started to realize how overwhelmed I was. I wasn’t overwhelmed by what you would think, not even what I would think. I was overwhelmed at all the people who knew me. They joy of people greeting me, broke me. It broke through a serious and well crafted fortress that had been around my heart since I can remember, all my life.
I heaved and sobbed as I tried to mutter coherent words telling these precious prayer sisters that people actually knew me. They know ME!
From the moment I walked in, clusters of friends, reacquainting themselves with one another would see me, stop what they were saying, call me by name and come to me, arms stretched wide open for an intimate embrace.
Like you would greet a friend. A real friend.
And they were doing this to ME!
Others would light up and exclaim, “I’m so glad I get to finally meet you!” And others would shout, “TRACI!!!!!!” as they clamored for my attention, claiming their hug. And they meant ME.
It was just too much for me.
I couldn’t comprehend it. It made my mind reel and my shoulders heave in anguish because of all of those years, all those years of being no one. A nobody. Forgotten. Discarded. Stupid. Rejected. Used. Unwanted. Abandoned. Abused. Terrified. Too loud. Too awkward. Misunderstood. The last one thought of and the last one picked.
My mind went blank because I had no reference as to how to process it all. I couldn’t believe people remembered me and not only remembered me, they wanted to be by me, on purpose, because of ME, who I am.
Even now, it’s still sinking in.
I even went back a second time, after I had been trying to muffle more deep, from-the-gut sobbing during worship. People I knew, gathered around me, loved on me, prayed for me, comforted me, spoke truth to me, took time out of their schedule to be with me and with their voices, audibly claimed me as their friend. Can you believe it?! ME!! I HAVE FRIENDS!! And they aren’t afraid to own it, well, ME!!! HAHA!
To my old friends: I can now see the friendship we already have, truly you are my friends and we have been friends all along. I can see that I was blinded by my pain and was holding back in our relationship because I truly believed it was all too good to be true. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, convinced someday it would. I’m so sorry for that and I hope you can forgive me. I truly was incapacitated by fear and my wounds. I sincerely cherish you and love you with all my heart.
To my new friends: I pray that God will continue the mighty work He has begun in me and that I will be able to honor and to be a blessing in our new relationship. I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us. I hope I bless you as much as you have blessed me.
So, yes, I learned a great deal at Allume. Yes, the speakers, as usual, were dynamic and spoke awesome words. Yes, it was gorgeously decorated and the food was super yummy, (well, there was this all arugula salad that was, interesting) 😉 . Yes, it was filled with all sorts of wonderfulness and the worship was sweet and it was so great to see so many familiar faces and to meet new ones. It was all around the best one yet, in my opinion, and I would highly recommend you attend.
But for me, Allume was the place where God reached down and thunderously whispered into the core of my being…
“Traci, My daughter, My precious, beautiful, cherished, loved, chosen on purpose daughter…YOU ARE KNOWN.”
Thank you Father, thank you.
Soli Deo Gloria,