Reflections on MomCon 2013 – Part 1 (Is there such a thing as too many moms in one place?)

I stood in the hallway, looking around me uncertainly. I was surrounded by women talking excitedly squealing in delight as they greeted one another. Groups of ladies strode down the hallways wearing matching shirts. No one else seemed to be here by themselves. I felt alone and out of place. What was I doing here?
When I first joined my MOPS group’s leadership team and found out about MomCon I was thrilled. The keynote speakers were Lysa Terkerst, Jen Hatmaker, and Beth Moore! My team was excited as well, but between pregnancies, new babies, travel plans and generally crazy lives no one else was able to get away. The thought of trying to navigate my way around Kansas City and stay in a hotel room alone was not appealing, so my wonderful hubby said he’d come with me. He would work from the hotel room and we could go out together in the evenings.
It seemed like the perfect plan, but now that I was here I wasn’t so sure. Thanks to some bad directions (dumb Google maps) we hadn’t arrived as early as I’d wanted too, and now the first workshop was about to start and I hadn’t even checked in. I joined the huge line in front of the registration tables, but a volunteer came around to tell us that if we didn’t want to miss the first workshop we could check in later. I headed back down the hall before I realized that I didn’t have the schedule or room numbers for the workshops. Thankfully there were plenty of volunteers around to help direct us, and by some miracle the workshop I wanted to attend was right in front of me.
As I sank into a chair at the back of the room Carol Kuykendall began to talk about how to craft a good story. I felt the tension start to ease out of me. Storytelling is a passion of mine, and learning how to to tell better stories from a published author was worth the cost of admission. Carol gave some general tips on how to structure a story, and then she started talking about vulnerability. That got my attention. “Vulnerability,” she said,  “Sharing weakness, letting go of the facade shows the need for change, which lets God work and makes God real to others.” I’ve always struggled with perfectionism, trying to present the image the world expects to see when it looks at me. I long to be more transparent, to show my weaknesses and struggles, but it’s oh so hard.
Apparently the whole conference was structured to speak directly to this issue in my life. In the second workshop writer Shauna Niequist talked about the dangers of comparing ourselves to other women and how to strive for connection instead. She explained how it’s impossible to truly connect with someone we are comparing ourselves to. I guilty looked around at the well-dressed, confident women surrounding me. I had certainly been comparing myself to them, letting myself have a little pity party because I wasn’t here with friends instead of reaching out and being friendly myself. Shauna gave some great tips for escaping the trap of comparison. She encouraged us to spend our time crafting lives we love, working toward our own God-given mission. She reminded us that we are not competing for happiness, that there is enough joy to go around. She added that instead of comparing ourselves to the seemingly perfect life another woman has we should bridge the gap, invite her into our home and share our stories. How easy this sounds, but how often do I actually do it? Not often enough.
By the end of the first day I was tired, but already feeling encouraged and refreshed. And the best was yet to come! 🙂

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