By Abigail Young
Prior to this summer’s LIFE Conference I had heard many things from my friends who had attended the last LIFE Conference in Kansas City back in 2016… namely, that it was basically a Christian rave and that it was a place to party with fellow Alliance youth from around the world. Going into LIFE I was beginning to get exhausted from working as a youth intern at church and, due to this, I was prepared to go crazy with a bunch of teenagers on top of meeting God and having some lit worship. Of course, based on this description of my mindset and expectations for LIFE, my focus was on enjoying myself instead of having God as my top priority during the conference. Praise the Lord that despite this, He still showed up and moved in my personal life and broke down the walls that I had been unconsciously building up since I was still a baby.
If my life were to be presented as a storybook, people would see a consistent evolution of me becoming more and more independent, private, and closed off. I took pride in my ability to be self-reliant and I viewed vulnerability as losing self-protection. All these internal issues stemmed from my upbringing, positions, and labels I have accumulated over time.
One of the main stage speakers, Megan Marshman, spoke about experiencing God in the presence of pain and during this session, she posed the question, “Where have you been running to fill the void?” What stood out to me from this question was not the part about what worldly things am I being filled with, instead, it was the word “void”. That word brought to my attention all the times
that I would feel empty at random times for seemingly no reason. Then God gave me a huge revelation: I am hurting myself by not letting myself be known. Right after that giant revelation, I was hit with Megan Marshman saying, “People need to really know you to know how to love you.” That statement broke me because it made me wonder if people really knew me well enough to know how to love me. The reality was that no one did and I brought that on Myself.
During debrief that night I was able to receive prayer from my small group and become liberated from the spirit of independence and being completely closed off from everyone. The next day the Lord moved me to share my story, for the first time in my life, to my small group so that they could get a glimpse into what shaped me to be who I am today. In doing so, I had taken my first step toward being known and am now continuing to pursue vulnerability and becoming known by those closest to me. If you were to ask me if I still struggle with being open and making myself known? The answer… heck yeah! My natural tendency is to keep absolutely everything to myself and fighting that urge is extremely hard for me. Yes, I cut off the spirit of being a lone wolf and walls were broken during LIFE but now the challenge is making sure I don’t go back to how I was before. I am not naive enough to believe that I will now forever be open to everyone because of what happened at LIFE; however, I am walking away with the full confidence that God will give me the courage and boldness, to slowly make myself known to those around me from this day forward.