The conference itself was everything I hoped it would be. Last year, I attended the Q Conference in Boston and was so encouraged for the church, and for my own place in it. When I saw the advertisement for Q Women, I knew I needed to share this chance to engage our faith and our minds with some of my favorite people.
When I asked friends to consider going to Q Women, my hope was that we would be challenged to think about new ideas and new ways of thinking about our world and how our faith is expressed in it. I hoped we would process it together, and think about how this impacts our lives. They agreed to go without a clear vision of how this conference was different than any others we might have experienced. As we drove to the airport, I chuckled as I listened to them describe what they thought it would be. That’s what I love about Q. It’s not your ordinary Christian conference. So often women’s conferences can be focused on confirming a very narrow view of womanhood (and Christianity) but Q doesn’t do that. This organization embraces the questions, the tensions, and the places that people of good conscience sometimes disagree. Q is a place where respectful dialogue and honest interaction can flourish.
Jefferson Benthke asked us to take an honest look at our interaction with culture. He talked about the difference between the values of Pharaoh and those of Yahweh. He described the impact of production over relationship and talked about how the gift of sabbath reflects this subversive calling. In the world of Pharaoh, Israelites worked day and night always forced to do more with less. They were not seen as people, but as a means to an end. When Yahweh called the people to Himself, He offered them a new way. He instituted sabbath as a weekly reminder that He was more interested in a relationship with them, than in what they could produce. Jefferson’s talk challenged me to consider my own values, how I engage the culture, and helped me see ways that I need to look across the wide divides to see people.
Lisa Jo Baker talked about single motherhood and asked us to listen with open hands as we consider the perspective of others. She talked about the online backlash from christian circles when a fellow blogger posted tips to encourage working moms. Still, in 2015 the backlash was fierce and ugly. She asked us to consider the challenges and opportunities to fulfill our calling, the reality of 8.6 million single working moms in America, and the possibility that there are more than one way to live faithfully as a mom and as a woman. Her talk brought tears to my eyes as I rejoiced that this room of mostly younger women would hear this message. There are as many ways to live out motherhood as there are individual mothers. We must live and listen with open hands, offer support and encouragement to those who live differently, and be aware of the impact on of our bias on others.
Diedra Riggs asked us to embrace who we are. To live our own calling and worship Him by celebrating who God created me to be. She asked us to remember that when we step into our roles, we must give up imitating others. When we are called to a task, we must step into as ourselves, or we leave it empty as we are not there, and neither is the one we are imitating. She reminded us that He is the God of through, through the difficulty, through the desert times, and through to the other side.
Annie Downs asked us to consider our thesis statement. What are the things that remain true not matter where I am? What things consistently push through in every place we show up? She talked about a drummer who was also a stage manager. These two things seem quite diverse, but in reality the drummer keeps everyone on track as does the manager. These two diverse expressions of calling actually stem from the same unique set of values/ personality/ perspective. This caused us to consider our own thesis statement and produced some of the most interesting table talk. I will continue to think on this one for a while.
Donna Freitas asked us to consider how the constant highlight reel of social media gives a false sense of reality. We post the very best, most positive images of our lives and leave out the messy, difficult, and downright ugly parts. Today people feel the need to appear happy, even when they aren’t. This presents a distorted view of the world, and can lead us to measure our own complicated lives against the onslaught of curated images designed to only show the very best of our lives. I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I scroll through my news feed, wondering what is really going on in the lives of people I care about.
There was so much. I think we all left feeling a bit overwhelmed. We talked and processed together and we continue to think about it on our own. I am grateful for the journal they provided to take notes and capture my thoughts. I will be revisiting it again and again. I came back with some books to read, some things to journal about, and a renewed sense of hope for the church I love so dearly. Sometimes the negative images of the church rub against my heart, I need to be reminded that we are diverse and multifaceted. This organization has offered me a wider view of what it means to live out my faith with integrity and honor in the midst of a splintered and dark world. For that I am truly grateful.