Do you believe that you are alone?
Perhaps, you are in a season of yearning for companionship, whether romantically, platonically, or through community in another context. Maybe, you’ve grown frustrated searching for a church home or seeking mentors who can support you. Your desires are valid. Not feeling seen, connected, or chosen is painful. What if God sees you, though, in ways that surprise you? What if in your seasons of uncertainty and obscurity, God wants to show you that He has never left you, remembers you, and covers you? What if, through everything, God is positioning you to help others feel loved, purposed, and seen?
Recently, God smiled at me while I participated in a conference called the I Am Experience. With a mixture of apprehension and excitement, I kept my “yes” to the invitation to attend. Back in July, I suffered a consequential concussion that made it difficult to function, let alone socialize for a sustained period of time. In the months to follow, I battled depression from the isolation that my condition necessitated. As October approached, I was grateful to feel well enough to show up to I Am and see what God could do.
Founded by Detroiter Orena Perry, the fifth annual I Am Experience was themed “Woman…I See You.” Over the course of a weekend, women from across walks of life were encouraged to open their eyes and see Christ. Although I could only join for one day, the Word of God was magnified to me in a needed way:
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”(1 JOHN 4: 9-12, NEW LIVING TRANSLATION, HOLY BIBLE)
Ms. Perry’s courage resulted in women at I Am being beautifully called to see God through how we love each other. In gratitude to her and the team that helped actualize this conference, I am compelled to share 5 lessons/reminders that remain close to me:
Earnest prayer is personal and powerful.
Day 2 of I Am began with a prayer breakfast. Multiple women led us in prayer, which each centered on a specific area, such as finances or mental health. No two people conversed with God in the same way. Yet, everyone spoke from a posture of love and dependence on our Creator. So long as a prayer is earnest, it is worthy.
Intergenerational community is a gift.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”(1 Timothy 4:12, New Living Translation)
“Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.”(Job 12:12)
Greater is possible when our hearts and ears are willing to be blessed by those older and younger than us. None of us have it 100% right, but we all have something to offer from our unique stories in progress. The I Am conference honored legacy and cross-generational encouragement.
D’Lila Brumfield, daughter of Orena Perry, reflected, “Being a part of the I Am Experience every year is more than just helping my mother host a multicultural, multi-generational women’s conference. It is a position of great privilege to serve these women and watch moments of transformation happen session by session. It really means the world to me to provide opportunities of exchange and excellence to others, in a way that promotes wholeness and wellness for everyone involved. It’s really a joy to be a part of.”
Grief ain’t nothing to be ashamed of.
Panelists and attendees openly grieved at various points during the day. Whether remembering a late spouse or sharing about current hard losses, I Am modeled an atmosphere where people could be without pretense. In those moments, a consoling hug or an offer of Kleenex were not intended to quicken one’s tears. They were, rather, paired with softness and recognition.
“Take your time to feel, sis. We got you.”
Visions come to pass through remembrance, preparation, and time.
My friend and sister, Deja, participated in I Am as a panelist and listener.
She told me, “The event was a reminder and rekindler of what God has been speaking to me since 2018. The vision He placed on the inside of me regarding women and how my story has a place to be heard and my experiences are to be learned from. The I Am experience was a place of rebirth and a much needed space to share and commune with other dope women.”
Has God planted a vision in your heart? Don’t laugh at it. Take it seriously. Pray on it. Show up to spaces that help you remember and believe for what you saw. Treat life’s highs, lows, and in between as preparation and not waste.
Your crown looks stunning on you. Wear it.
At the end of the day, we were gifted crowns and directed to place them on each other. With the help of a compact mirror, we then looked into ourselves and confessed we were worthy. We kept on our crowns as we left the conference and passed by strangers who joked about wanting adornments, too.
What might you see in the mirror if you began crowning yourself in kindness and acceptance each morning? What freedom, too, might you experience if you sought out opportunities to crown others with words and actions rooted in love, recognition, and faith? What might you see, if not the love of God?