Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Relevant Story

Finding the words to describe my experience at the Relevant conference will not be easy. But the first step, as always, is putting pen to paper (or in my case, fingers to keyboard) and just diving in.

Before I left for Relevant, I had
completely lost my motivation for blogging. My most recent posts chronicled my Haiti trip, simply because I felt I owed it to those who had participated in the giveaways and raffles that I posted in order to raise money for the trip. I didn’t want to leave anyone wondering if I was a complete liar who hadn’t gone there at all, or whether I had just set up shop in Port Au Prince and not returned. In all reality, though, I don’t think anyone was waiting with bated breath for those posts, because I had so completely slipped off the radar of the blogosphere. And in all reality, it’s a completely self-involved notion to imagine that anyone is waiting with bated breath to hear what I have to say.

I had become exhausted by all the tweeting, facebooking, reading, writing, commenting, e-mailing… and all other tasks involved with trying to be a "successful" blogger. The number of blog subscriptions pouring into my inbox became overwhelming, and I felt that I was responsible to read them all. At some point
I basically just gave up on all of it and let myself become nearly invisible in cyberland.

So, the date was approaching… the conference that I had been so excited to attend when I bought the ticket. Back in the days
when blogging was a joy and not a chore, and the idea of networking and fellowshipping with other Christian women bloggers left me with a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation, as opposed to an onslaught of social anxiety. But I knew that God wanted me there, so I obeyed. And oh, how He blessed me for my obedience.

I must admit, the social anxiety piece did not fade when I arrived at the conference. I was surrounded by beautiful, sweet, down to earth, and exceptionally real women, some of whose
hearts and voices I’ve known for months from reading their blogs. I still felt overwhelmed. For those of you who met me and thought I seemed guarded, stand-offish, or, on some occasions, comatose, please excuse my bizarre behavior. Behind my glazed eyes and plastered smile was just a socially phobic introvert who was overwhelmed with it all, but bursting to yell out, “You are all so amazing! Can we be best friends?” And to those I genuinely got to know, thank you for sticking it out with me.

It turns out, though, that social networking was not the reason God had me at the conference. His purpose in bringing me there was not that I meet and mingle with other women. He wanted me there to meet with
Him. I hope there is another Relevant conference next year, and that by that time I’ll be less overwhelmed with everything so that I can get to know many of the sweet women better. But I will be eternally blessed by the way God spoke to my heart at this year’s conference.

It was surprising, at a blogging conference, to hear the message of making your blog less of a priority. But this was the underlying, or in some cases overriding message, of every speaker at Relevant. They encouraged their captive audience that their relationship with the Lord should be first priority, and for those who had them (which I’m pretty sure was everyone at the conference but me) their husbands and children should be second. If, and only if, there was extra time and energy beyond those two priorities, blogging could find its place.

I do not, as you know from reading my blog or at least the last paragraph, have a husband or children. But God, through the obedient vessels that were the speakers at the Relevant conference, drove the point home that He should always be my priority, and He rarely is. In the past, blogging was an excuse, or in more serious terms, an idol. But as my excitement for it faded, other things took its place (general distractions of this life.) No matter what though, I always seem to find something to put before Him.

In sum, what I learned at my first blogging conference had nothing to do with blogging at all. I need to return my heart to my Lord, and make Him my very first priority in all things.

Additionally, I learned a ton about blogging intentionally and authentically, and over the next few months I hope to figure out how to integrate all that information and wisdom into my own blogging. On top of that, I was released from the insane pressure I was putting on myself to keep up with everyone and everything in the social networking world. I would love to pass on many of the lessons I learned. I also want to be more vulnerable in sharing all the pieces of my own story, which was another major theme at the conference. But I can’t promise anything immediate, because I have a lot of lost time to make up with my Savior. And I know that
HE is waiting with bated breath to spend time with me.

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Rachel @ The Cupcake Sprinkles In Life said...

Brilliantly said Colleen!!!!!


Laura Darling said...

I love this. I read so many positive posts about the Relevant conference. I would have loved to have been able to be there, but just reading your post has certainly given me a lot to think about! I am young and single too, and sometimes I worry that I would be out of place at a conference since I don't have a husband and children. But I am so glad to see that you got so much out of this one. Praying you stay encouraged!

Sippy Cup Mom said...

What a wonderful post!

Don't put any pressure on yourself!

It sounds like you had a wonderful time and you are such a wonderful person!

Rachel said...

Beautifully written & SO true!! I was so glad to meet you last weekend!! What an amazing time! =)

Kaira said...

I had such a similar experience - He met me on heart issues that had little to do with blogging. It was such a powerful, intimate time with my Lord that when I think about it for a few minutes tears spring quickly.

Lets sit and chat at Relevant 11. :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I did not get to meet you, but I wish I had!

Lindsey @ A New Life said...

I love your heart and your honesty. It was great to meet you and spend time getting to know you! You're truly a joy!

Miranda said...

Wow Colleen!

You said it all. It truly sounds like the conference and the trip both sunk in deeply for you. You obviously have a beautiful heart, and want to impact others for God's kingdom!

While being a blogger is fantastic, and a wonderful way to spread a positive movement in the world, I definitely agree that it can sometimes overwhelm you.. all the social networking makes me feel bogged down once in awhile.

If you have time, check out my blog, seems as though we write similar things. Maybe we can keep in touch.

Thanks for writing, now I want to go to a Relevant conference too. ;)

Anonymous said...

I am going to Relevant this year and thought you might be too. Hope you are but glad you had such a positive experience last year.

Colleen said...

Hi Amy! I would LOVE to go this year. It's not in the budget at this point, since I'm in CA, but if God wills it, it will happen! Keeping my eyes peeled for a sponsor. :) I highly recommend it though! Would love to see you there!