the next step
In the week or so since my post all about the sex, I have read stories on top of stories from you. Stories from men, women, gay, straight, lesbian, virgin, non virgin, married, single, divorced, widowed, young, not so young, leaders in the church, and spouses of leaders in the church confirmed this to me: We are hungry to talk about this. Some of us are fearful, some are fed up, but everyone who emailed, called, texted, or messaged me with your thoughts said “Keep me in the loop. I’m in.”
It’s taken me over a week to follow up on the blog because: I’ve wanted to write back to each of you who reached out to me individually, and that took a minute. And, honestly, I haven’t really known what to follow up with. I have more questions than answers, and hearing your stories helped me see that lots of us feel the same way. I believe that a dialogue is opening up, and I want to keep it going. The questions aren’t just about sex and when we can have it and who we can have it with and how often or how little, although that’s where this all started. Those questions are the ones that come later in the discussion about what we believe about ourselves, who we are in the world, and what we believe about who God is and what He says. Those questions, for many of us, are the first ones. Questions about sex, relationships, marriage, gender, parenting, money, or whatever else can’t even begin to enter the dialogue until we have a better working understanding of how we feel and what we believe about the more foundational stuff. Aside from feeling woefully unqualified to facilitate that discussion, I’ve been waiting for the most effective and appropriate venue to make itself known. Is it a blog? A coffee shop? A living room? A study group? We need a safe, comfortable, and open space, not just physically but spiritually and emotionally, where we can dialogue, read, pray, and listen to one another’s stories. I didn’t know what that place was, but I knew that I couldn’t force it. It would have to be organic. I heard from so many women who feel disconnected from other women, feel judged, pressured, and inadequate. You want to share, you want to listen, but that kind of vulnerability can’t be forced. It has to be nurtured and drawn out in a safe space. And, then…
IF: Gathering is “a fresh, deep, honest space for the next generation of women to wrestle with essential questions that plague their generation.” It’s a conference being held in Austin Texas for the first time this February. Some of my favorite authors and bloggers have come together to create a space where women wrestle with some of the most vulnerable, difficult questions we ask ourselves and dialogue with other women to hear their stories and share our own. I thought about hopping a flight to Austin to check it out, but tickets to attend sold out in 42 minutes. Because the hunger to be part of this dialogue is so intense, they launched IF: Local. IF: Local is a network of gatherings of women around the world who will come together to live stream the event and have their own living room discussions together based on what comes up at the conference and what comes up in their gatherings. There are hundreds of them. I’d like to host one.
If you live in the Nashville area, want to connect in a deep, fresh, honest way with some like minded women, and enjoy delicious snacks, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). The event is a little over 24 hours, and I’ll open my house for the whole thing. It begins at 2pm on Friday, February 7 and the final session ends at 5pm on Saturday, February 8th. Sessions will be live-streamed for the length of the event, and we’ll take all the same breaks they take to eat, talk, write, and sleep. Come for a couple of hours or bring an overnight bag and stay. Take the afternoon off work and treat this like a personal mini-retreat, or come out for dinner and dialogue on Friday night and head home after. Fill up an entire journal or just listen. If we could get two or three or a dozen open hearted women in the same space for this… my heart just about burst open at the thought of it.
Check out the website for IF, read this blog from Jen Hatmaker to learn a little bit more about why I’m personally so excited about it, and think about joining us. The best thing in the world would be if we had more women than I have beds, and we spill over into each other’s homes. I’ll have coffee, tea, goat cheese, jam, bacon wrapped dates, crackers, chocolate, and a ton of blankets. Bring your stories, your questions, and an open mind and heart. Let’s get brave.