Influence: Check Your Baggage at the Door

I’ve been sitting on this post for a few days now. Formulating in my head and heart what I wanted to say and how I would say it.

I’ve watched the twitter banter and bloggy love being passed out around online and I’ve even jumped in with a few hashtags and virtual fist bumps. And I’ve reflected on my weekend at The Influence Conference.

I was blessed to attend at the last-minute through a  scholarship and the lovely Anne Bogel offering space for me to crash in on. We had met at Blissdom and we’ve connected over the past year. The first night in I was offered a chance to room with another Blissdom friend, Virginia and her two roommates Bree and Andi. Since Anne’s husband Will was going to be staying that first night it would have made things a tad crowded and awkward. Even though he fit right in at Influence, he is still a dude.

Anne and Virginia

So I was going into this conference with the expectations of amazing content and the chance to reconnect with some friends while making some new ones.

I am good at this. Making new friends. I made lots of them at Blissdom, but I realized as soon as I stepped into the lobby at Influence that this would be different.

I am drawn to the one in the corner, the one by themselves awkwardly texting, the one holding their coffee cup looking for an empty seat and someone to beckon them to join in. These are the ones I relate to, I want to pull them into the fold and let them know they are welcomed. My heart aches for the new girl, the one who stands on the fringe of conversations while everyone else’s backs turn inward, often without knowing that they have closed the circle.

But when I arrived to check in, I realized I was carrying more baggage than a carry on and purse. I was bringing with me the insecurities of a past world of mean girls, popular cliques with their gaggle of giggling friends that would stream past me without a glance. And so, upon seeing a Pinterest board of beautiful trendy gals with top buns, cute accessories, knee-high boots, rocking their skinny jeans, I felt myself faltering. I flashed back to middle school and I felt my stomach drop low and gurgling into my core. These girls weren’t the kind that needed to be included, they already were.

Fear seized me and I was choking on it. I made a study of my feet, dug into my bag for gum, pulled out my cell phone and scrolled through nothing. Because I am great at extending a warm welcome to the new girl, but I really stink at being her.

I hate being the one to approach a group of gals already engaged and talking amongst themselves to be smiled at quickly, and then the conversations continues and you stand there not sure if you should leave or stay, because it feels like it wouldn’t matter either way.

And I went on and met some wonderful warm women but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that kept rearing it’s head. You don’t really belong here.

I heard Jessi, Hailey, Casey, and Moriah talk about how they want egos and insecurities checked at the door, and I believed what their heart spoke but I still didn’t really approach any of them.

I hadn’t made the connections beforehand so I didn’t know if you were a famous blogger or just started. I didn’t know what your avatar or blog design looked like. I didn’t know if you sold things in your Etsy shop, but I did sense that you already knew each other and were happy to see each other and hang out with together, and while I totally get that, a part of me felt excluded.

When I came home and streamed through the posts and instagrams, I realized I was absent from most of them. I suppose I could have photo bombed everyone but instead I was always hiding behind my iPhone.

I sat in on some amazing content that was an answer to many prayers about this blog (more on that later.)

And then the final night came. I had had highs and lows emotionally for the entire weekend vacillating between feeling very connecting and then suddenly on the outside again.

And then we gathered into the conference center and the lights dimmed and our voices rose together in worship and I was brought down. As I fought back tears there in the dark room, they broke free and flooded my cheeks with dewy renewal.

Influence worship with Finally Home

I was wrecked. God was there, all along. And the layers being peeled back from my heart were those of a broken and contrite spirit.

Because even though I can’t rock skinny jeans, or fix an elegant top bun or figure out how to wear ankle booties without looking ridiculous, I still fit. I am a part of this body and we worship the same God.

We all want our influence to extend the gospel to those who have never grasped His grace, and we’re all unique in how we do it. And it’s only the lies from the enemy that tell me anything different. And these are the same lies I have always believed, that are just so dang loud sometimes. I keep thinking I am healed and that I’ve dealt with my baggage and then I look down and see it’s bumping against my heels as I pull it with me.

And I remembered that it isn’t about me at all. It never is. It is always, ALWAYS, about Him.

And I realized that I had wasted precious opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and risk it all to be known and to know. To share the Jesus that I know is in me because I was too worried about the me that I put out there.

God is still working on the healing part but if I had it to do over, I would be brave, because I do belong. I am His. 

 

Comments

  1. says

    These are just such hard posts to write, aren’t they,when we reveal those deeper parts of us, the painful things we’d rather not share? But you did, and that’s awesome — and I can’t wait to meet you at Allume! I had such a tough time there last year, feeling like all the same high school insecurities were still there. . . And wow, I didn’t know how much I needed Him to carry me through, to remind me, over and over, that He had me, He saw me, no matter the burdens I felt I still carried from long ago. Bless you, sweet sister! {HUGS}

    • Alia Joy says

      Oh Jennifer, you’re so comforting and warm. I was struggling with writing it because I didn’t want it to in any way reflect poorly on Influence, which was amazing, or the people there. Truthfully, it was so much about where my own insecurities stem from and the things that trigger them. God uses these things to show me where the cracks are in my thinking I have it all together, which I never do, and to allow His grace to meet me there. And I know I will have lots of people to hug at Allume, now that I’ve realized how much I missed out. Can’t wait to hug you in real life, for now {hugs}

  2. says

    Oh my gosh, Alia. I had no idea you felt this way. It was an absolute joy to meet you and get to know you on our ride to the airport. I felt like you belonged :). And I KNOW you belong to Jesus.

    Also, every time I wear ankle boots I feel ridiculous. I just pretend like I don’t, and other people tell me they look nice. Fake it till you make it, sister!

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, most people don’t. I tend to hold my emotions in pretty close while I’m going through things but it was a joy to meet you to and by the time I was leaving for the airport, I had had a good cry and night of worship and had come to my senses a bit. LOL How are you feeling? Did your cold clear up, I hate traveling with a head cold. ;(

  3. says

    This is such a beautiful post. I am so glad I met you in the first minutes you arrived and I am sorry we didnt get to hang out more. But I felt the EXACT same way at the worship- tears flowing realizing its all about Him.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Ashley, I wish I wasn’t so out of it when I met you but I crashed and slept the whole afternoon. You and Andi were awesome and I look forward to getting to know you more online. And YES, worship was amazing!!! I would go again just for that, not to mention the rock your world speakers and heart of it all.

  4. says

    Alia! You put so eloquently into words what I had feelings of this weekend too. I posted a little bit about it, but you dove in with two feet. You are an amazing a brave women with such a beautiful heart for God.
    I want to leave my baggage at the door too, and help others lighten their loads as well.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Michaela, I just jumped over to your blog and I loved your post! I wish we would have met and talked. I have a thing for airstreams so I was instantly taken in. ;) Are you on twitter or facebook? I’d like to follow you, and I’m not sure if I already am (I followed a ton of people from influence) or not. And thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and for telling me, I’m not alone in feeling that way and that God is the only one who can truly carry our burdens.

  5. says

    I really appreciate your honesty, Alia. I’m glad you sat down at my table for Saturday’s breakfast. I had one of my friends from childhood come with me but I felt the same fears too. I’m extremely shy and so even talking in front of more than 10 people made me want to run away! FAST! I still remember thinking you have such a gorgeous smile and PS your kids are beautiful!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Allie, me too. I am not a morning person and since I live on the West Coast breakfast was a tad wonky for my body, so I apologize if I wasn’t all there but it was fun meeting you and I heard your talk was amazing!!! So you must have had God’s grace to pull it off because seriously, I’m pretty sure you rocked it. I looked over the slides you uploaded and I can’t wait to dive into your audio when it comes out.

  6. says

    Me too, Alia, me too. Have grace with yourself as He does with you! You’ll have a chance to step out and be brave for Him again. (pssst….you are doing it right now, right here!) Love to you. <3

    • Alia Joy says

      Sarah, can I just say, you have the sweetest, most encouraging spirit. I know you blog about life and God and recipes, but I really feel your gift is nourishing souls. I can’t wait to get to know you more. We’ll set up a date and chat!

  7. Adrienne says

    Alia, it was a pleasure to meet you and get a chance to talk at the Stripes party. Although we never got to sit down and have a heart to heart, I enjoyed our interactions and I don’t remember seeing you without a smile. Thanks for your honest heart, keep writing in this space because. Your honesty alone is reminiscent of Him.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Adrienne. It was fun to meet you as well. I smile when I’m nervous and I smile when I’m sad and well, I smile a lot. I tend to hold in emotions when I’m processing so I was dealing with ups and downs all weekend. I tend to be overly analytical and feeling which means I live a whole life just in my head and thoughts. It’s really tiring being me. LOL. But I look forward to getting to know everyone and their thoughts too.

  8. says

    I thought you were a gem! Your presence from the airport was a pleasure and I’m glad God gave me you, Kate and Lisa to start it off with! Was SURE you felt more confident and comfortable than me girl! Thanks for sharing your heart!

    • Alia Joy says

      Kathleen, Oh you were a bright spot and so gracious to come and pick us up and then to let me snuggle up on your couch. :) You looked like you were having a great time and I think all of us newbies were dealing with those jitters. I look forward to seeing where God takes you with your blogging adventures. Did your mind explode with all of the information?

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Charis. I always struggle with being real or being right and being real trumps not admitting my mistakes every time.

  9. says

    Alia – I regret not getting to have any substantive convos with you this weekend. I am so excited to dig into your blog though and get to know you better through your gift of written words. It was a PLEASURE to be your roomie for a night! And can I just say…. my first impression of you was that you were so easy to talk to and I felt comfortable around you right away. Thank you for that. It’s mind boggling to me to read everyone’s posts today because every single person came to the conference with insecurities. EVERY. PERSON. It’s comforting and mind-boggling all at the same time. :) ~Bri~

    • Alia Joy says

      I know I am an introvert, so I’m all about deep but I did have a great time when we did connect. You and Andi were a blessing for letting me stay with you guys. Isn’t it funny how we all have these dialogues of insecurity that play in our minds. Just when I think my identity is firmly planted in Christ, these little lies will sneak in and taunt me. I’m learning not to listen to them and to lean hard into God when I need to. Can’t wait to get to know you better as well.

  10. says

    I felt the same lies. There was a group of girls that I knew from blogging and emailing but I felt too awkward or small or insignificant to approach others outside of that group. And I actually had wanted to connect with you after reading your 31 days series! I’m sorry that I wasn’t brave enough to do so. But I did, as you said, feel the beautiful uniting Holy Spirit during worship and it just convicted me of those insecurities. I look forward to hearing more of what God taught you this weekend!

    • Alia Joy says

      Oh, I wish you had! I honestly can’t visit your blog at this hour because those pictures make me hungry but I am so glad you connected on here at least. I think they should do worship first next year or maybe every night! That seemed to be a time when we really got to the heart of things and were unified. You are definitely not insignificant! I am amazed at the young women that showed up, I wouldn’t have had the guts to do anything like that during my college years. You have incredible influence for the coming generations! Looking forward to getting to know you better.

      • says

        That’s what I was telling my roommates! The party was fun but I think worship and coffee date time would have been so much more beneficial on the first night. Thank you for being so kind and encouraging :)

  11. says

    Girl, you did great. And as one prone-to-be-insecure introvert to another, believe me when I say I get this. I am so glad I got to spend some quality, zoned-out time with you :)

    I love this post, your honesty, your heart. Curses that Bend is so dang far away. Wish I could see you at Allume in 2 weeks! Honored to be your friend.

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, I was loving our steak and veggie time with V and also being able to be completely myself with you as a roomie. I felt relaxed and comfy with you and Leigh. Seriously need to think about moving, don’t I? LOL
      And I really wish you’d be at Allume too. I’ll tweet a bunch so you can feel like you’re there. And the friend stuff, seriously blessed by you!

  12. says

    i so super loved sitting next to you and meeting you at breakfast. i am thankful for your honesty here. there were certainly times i felt like that kid standing with the lunch tray, not sure where to go. but i was so thankful to have gotten to chat with you and hear your heart. thanks for coming and thanks for being so very real.

    • Alia Joy says

      I enjoyed breakfast too. I loved those sit down times to connect and you made my morning. Thanks for listening to me and making me feel welcomed. It was a highlight. ;) Blessed by you.

  13. says

    girl… the guts it takes to write a post like this just wrecks me in the most beautiful way. thank you for writting this. thank you for being vulnerable. THAT is a ministry. this post convicts my spirit and I am thankful for that. i mourn the fact that you felt like that but rejoice in the truth of the gospel that you cling too — that you are not out of place. I so hope you will come back. This as my first conference of any kind. I felt a little guinea pigish. Learning my way through a maze. Next year I hope to do it a little better. excited to keep up with your blog and learn more of your story!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks, I was trying to figure out if I should write it because I really didn’t want anyone to feel like I meant they were unfriendly or have any regrets about that because truly, it was a whole lot of my own issues I was dealing with which had very little to do with anyone else. I know this is an area that God continues to work on in my life and I accept that and sometimes I just need to be reminded of this truth when I get totally self obsessed and can only think within my emotions and not find footing in the truth of my identity in Him. I’m excited to get to know you better too. I am walking away with a ton of new blogs to read and beautiful souls to jump in with.

  14. says

    I resonated well with this post! I knew exactly two people when I arrived this past weekend, and I also prefer to love on the gals in the corner. Thank you for sharing your heart, and I’m glad to hear it ended with a great time of worship for you! I hope to see you next year :)

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Rachael, I’m planning on being there next year and we’ll get a chance to say “hi” again. I loved the worship time and the truth it brought back to me.

  15. says

    This is really such a beautiful post, Alia. Thank you for sharing your heart! I wish we could have connected more over the weekend because it seems like we have a lot in common! Like you, I didn’t really know many people at the conference….and at times, I felt a little awkward because I don’t have an Etsy shop, am not crafty and can’t wear a top bun to save my life. However, God meets us right where we are and I’m thankful for that! Woohoo fist pump! I’m usually the one holding back…the timid one in the corner with the coffee and my phone…but reading this made me realize I need to be a bit more open. Anyway, thank you for sharing and I really hope we can meet in the future!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Jenna, I felt that way too when I got home, and especially after reading others comments and emails in response to this post. I feel like I was so busy obsessing over my own insecurities that I might have dropped the ball on a chance to be that welcoming soul to someone else. I want to keep that at the forefront of my mind, that just because someone looks like they have it all together or that they fit in, they may be just the same on the inside and really, what does it hurt to reach out? We’re all afraid of rejection but I realize I should be more afraid of missing a chance to connect hearts with someone God puts in my path. Thanks so much for the kind words of encouragement and maybe we’ll meet in the future.

  16. says

    Oh, you are not alone in your toting around all the baggage and such. I had mine with me, too, more than I care to admit. Honestly, I had no idea you were feeling isolated. You’re so warm, so pleasant to be around. I thoroughly enjoyed eating dinner together (a table removed, but still) and just being around you during that time. And do you know that you calmed these same fears in me? When you heard me downplaying the writing session, because that’s what I do to protect myself, you spoke up and gave me affirmation when I didn’t even realize how desperately I was seeking it. So thank you for that, and thank you for being honest so that we can see your heart. It is lovely.

    • Alia Joy says

      It gets kind of heavy and awkward, right? This baggage lugging gig we’ve got going. Why do we do it? And I am so glad that you know that your writing session blessed a lot of gals there, myself included. And of course dinner was a jolly good time, pretty much any time I’m well fed, I’m happy. Simple pleasures and all that. I really look forward to getting to know you better online. I love your writing on your blog and I loved what you had to say about writing in your session. I’m writing it out, girl, even if it never makes it to publish.

  17. says

    I get it. Totally get it, sister. Story of my life.

    {it always brings me back to middle school when I’d cross my ankles to hide my fake pair of Simples & when the girls at church told me I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them}

    Why is it so easy to forget the belonging?

    • Alia Joy says

      Uggh, I had fake KEDs. Like really? White canvas shoes were oh so cool but only if it had that little plastic tab that said KEDS. Seriously traumatized whenever I see white canvas shoes. Oh, the horrible flashbacks of shopping with my parents at thrift stores long before they were cool or vintage or anything resembling what the popular girls did. I’m so sorry that you ever heard that you weren’t cool enough. You are totally cool enough and then some. But yes, it’s so very easy to forget.

  18. says

    thanks. i was there, and i saw your smile. i was wonky too, but not because of the mornings, because all weekend long, i was insecure, and was talking too much! it makes me so so happy to have found you here though. even though i have no idea what part of the room you were in for worship, i’m so glad that we both felt everything (peace, release, understanding) that God wanted us to. Keep up the bravery girl, we all need to hear it. :)
    barbie f.

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Barbie. I am realizing more and more that we all feel different degrees of this insecurity but the most important thing is pushing past it and really finding common ground. I am humbled to read in the comments here and through emails that many girls were feeling just like me and I totally missed out on connecting with them because I couldn’t see past my own fears. Happy to meet you here.

  19. says

    i am sorry that i only sat across from you at breakfast one morning (and i was too busy being nervous & eating to chat much). hopefully your worship time has continued throughout your travels home, and found a nice snuggly place in your heart. you are made to write. we need to hear it. especially brave, lovely words that are truth. so glad we were able to be in the same place, even if we didn’t connect. because we are all connected, and (thankfully) all belong. :)
    barbie f.

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, we are all connected. Even if we never meet in this life, we will all have eternity. Blessed by you and your heart.

  20. says

    Oh, Alia, I so wish that the whole Inner Circle conflict had ended back in high school! No matter how many times I think I’m over it, I constantly find myself feeling outside of some circle or another, regardless of whether the circle really is as exclusive as I’m making it out to be.

    Will it make you laugh to know that your blog post represents one of those circles? I have a blog that I chatter on occasionally, and I love doing it, but I am outside the Blogger Circle. I don’t attend conferences or have regular posting habits or issues that speak to people’s hearts or any special niche that I fill. And I’m quite happy with that. My blog is right where I want it. But then a post like this appears and suddenly I feel unqualified to write a comment because I have never been and am unlikely to ever go to a blogging conference. Silly, huh? Especially to a person who’s as warm and welcoming as you have always been. So I basically commented here as a form of e-bravery in defiance of my insecurity. :)

    So anyway, thanks for this post because it is always healing to see others feeling the same things we feel. It’s a beautiful reminder that normal isn’t perfect and confident, it’s a tangle of insecurity and doubts and friendship and bravery all together.

    • Alia Joy says

      Oh Janice, your comment made me cry. I hate that anyone would ever feel left out or unqualified to comment, and I am so so so happy that you chose to put it out there because if I learned anything at this conference, the message God was shouting out to me was, “WE ALL HAVE INFLUENCE.” We all do when we claim him. In our homes, in our lives, and with our words. And I know for a fact, I’ve read posts on your blog that have spoken to heart issues. We don’t need to fill a niche or have a bajillion comments or subscribers, we need to speak the truth. Our truth is important. Our truth matters because we live God. We live out of faith and nothing is inconsequential to Him.

      You have no idea how insecurity has plagued me with the starting of this blog. Layers of insecurities I never knew possible crept out of my heart about stats and likes and followers and comparisons and I almost quit. About a month ago. I almost said, “I can’t do this. I don’t want to write anymore. What would it even matter.” And God said I have a voice and it’s not mine to stifle. He wants me to be faithful no matter what. And so I write, and sometimes I feel small and insignificant and worthless and I have to be reminded it’s not about me. Actually, I have to be reminded that a lot. You’d think I’d get it by now but I tend towards the stubborn obstinate type so there you have it.

      I get you and you matter here and at your own blog and in the influence that God has given you in your life. You matter. With much love and affectionate, Alia

      • says

        Oh, I did not mean at ALL to make you cry. It was just funny/sad to notice how much my insecurities sneak up even in places where I’ve always been welcome and while listening to someone else confess THEIR insecurities. I find you blog so homey and honest and I love reading it. And I love my own blog too. I think sometimes I even feel insecure for not measuring up to other people’s expectations of my things even if I’m meeting my OWN expectations. I was just amazed that I was feeling such things even though I swear I have dealt with them a million times already.

        I’m so glad you didn’t stop blogging. I do love hearing what you have to say.

  21. says

    Reading this I so wish we could have connected at the conference. I understand exactly what you have written and love your heart. Thank you for being so honest and brave in writing how you truly felt.
    Much Love!

  22. says

    Thanks for sharing this, Alia. My comment was going to be a whole lot longer, but I couldn’t bring myself to post it. Basically, I was trying to say that behind my top bun & skinny jeans, I still felt horribly out of place at times.

    P.S. I’m really glad that we got paired up together in the writing workshop. I like your heart.

    • Alia Joy says

      Erin, You can rock that style like nobody’s business and I felt honored to be able to partner up with you and have someone read my writing because it’s super vulnerable to sit with someone while they’re reading your words for the first time. Like Whoa, super scary, but you were so kind and gracious to me. So seriously, thank you. It was really great to meet you and I know God has big things in store for you and your hearts desires.

  23. says

    i don’t comment on blogs, um ever. but reading this convicted me. i’m a college student and i don’t have a large blog. i went to the conference believing in the message they were proclaiming, wanting to meet big bloggers i’ve been following for years and wanting to fit it. i didn’t get there until friday morning and arrived late to a session. i felt completely alone and out of place. i hid behind my iphone. and my computer. and then my iphone again. because i missed the boat already. i wasn’t a part of this community in front of me. i looked the part in my top bun and maxi skirt, but i didn’t feel like i belonged. and it wasn’t me. i’ve never worn a top bun in my life, but i knew i’d look “in” if i did. praise God I finally connected with some women who welcomed me into their group, but i still see where you are coming from. i understand how it feels to be on the outside of things. i left influence with a few disappointments too; with a weird taste in my mouth about it all. but i’m not as brave as you to throw it all out in a blog post. i sugar coated my influence recap to sound like i had a great time, and i did have fun, but there were times where i felt overlooked. and i’m sorry that i hid behind my phone instead of looking for the people who needed to connect too. this post alone shows how deep and tender your heart is, and i’m sorry to have missed out on that this past weekend. thanks for your brave honesty. and thanks for gently reminding me that i need to be the real honest me, both in my hairstyles and blog posts.

    • Alia Joy says

      Kimberly, I’m seriously honored that you took the time to comment here and to share your heart. That’s brave, girl. And I am also super impressed with all you college gals do on your blogs, I would have been way too afraid to do any of that when I was your age (and truthfully sometimes it still scares me quite a bit!) I’ve come to the same conclusion as you.

      Before I wrote this post, I was just going to let it go and write on the content because I got a ton out of it and just leave my own personal identity crisis out of it but I’m the kind that has a really hard time not just telling it like it is. So I sat on it for a bit. And then I just knew that I had to write it, and looking at the response, I’m so glad I did. Because the first step in connecting is to be honest. No one knew I was feeling lost or alone because I didn’t make it known. And I didn’t know anyone else was feeling that way because they were all doing the same thing. So next time, I will probably leave my not so skinny jeans at home and do what I’m good at. Find the ones who seem like they need to be real too. So glad you came here and commented and shared your heart. It’s beautiful to connect with you, even though we didn’t get the chance then.

  24. says

    Alia, this is beautiful and so are you! I really enjoyed spending a little time with you after our quick meeting at Blissom. I’m so glad to have reconnected and look forward to getting to know you and your heart. Thank you for this brave post. I felt the same way going to Influence (I can NOT rock skinny jeans or a top knot). But I was so blessed by the amazingly warm and welcoming women there. The weekend was truly encouraging. It IS always about Him! Love!

    • Alia Joy says

      Me too! You were so warm and welcoming in the sea of women at Blissdom and absolutely just as lovely at Influence. And yes, it is Always about Him. He is so good to remind me, when I (often) forget. Thanks for your encouragement and beautiful smile. Blessed by you, friend.

  25. says

    Hi, I found your blog through going through the link-ups at sarahmae.com
    Thankyou for your honesty, and bravery, and beauty.
    I wasn’t at the conference, I’m not in the country and you’ll probably never meet me (tho that is just God’s sense of humur isn’t it?!) but I felt like you were me writing.
    I went to a women’s confernence in UK organised by a very special lady called Nancy Goudie of ngm and felt so much like that. Even though I knew for a fact that every single woman in the room most likely felt exactlly the same way – that was the whole point of hurting women meeting to support each of. It felt like school again, like church as a teen again, like first jobs with girls who were so much more everything than me. Just reading your post brings it all churning up inside.
    But I learnt something a while ago I have finally started to believe – I used to describe myself as a person with insecurities, to excuse myself with it, to identify myself as one of those women who everyone else thought had it sussed but couldn’t see it myself. I made it my label, because that was easier than the added guilt of feeling I had no right to feel this way, and that therefore was something else wrong with me to cringe and hide away. I might KNOW this about myself, KNOW that I am every bit as worthy as the others, but until I can BELIEVE it nothing will change.
    I cannot change it, the very nature of “KNOWing” you’re not good enough ties you down before you even start. But the heartfelt words of those women I admire, whilst building me up, loving me and speaking truth; cannot change the root, the core lie (to borrow from Sarahmae’s ebook) I have founded myself upon.
    I finally learnt, that as long as I excused myself with that label, it would always be true.
    But it is not true. I do not have to be that person I fear myself to be, I can throw of the label, rub it ut, write a new one – or better yet, ask Him to write a new one.
    For you are right, it is all about Him, and not me. But for Him, it is all about me. (*Or rather, us, His people, His children collectively).
    It’s hard to stop identifying myself with that label, and be myself unlimited especially as I don’t know what He has written on it (like that game with the sticky label on your forehead).
    In the movie the Princess Diaries, a normal girl discovers she is the heir to the smallest kingdom in the world as her father is it’s Prince regent and just discovered he can’t have any more children. There is a moment when she is picked up in her limo by her new bodyguard, and the school girls who made her life hell previously say something that cuts her to the quick. The bodyguard says something amazing, “when did you give them permission to make you feel that way?” God himself has not given anyone permission to make me feel this way, including myself! (That movie makes me cry, even now).
    I think I’m trying to say that, until we stop identifying ourselves by how we feel, we open up the path to seeing the beautiful creature hiding behind the label.
    Thankyou Alia, I pray you will remember the things God is telling you now, when next these things try to overwhealm. And the same for me :-)
    Sx

    • Alia Joy says

      Thanks Sarah, I agree that we can step into an identity and align ourselves with insecurity by claiming it in that way. I don’t want to be flippant about who God has made me, I don’t want to focus on things that are external and silly and I am practicing love. Truly trying to practice loving myself the way God does and remembering that my security comes from being His. I pray I remember as well. Thanks for sharing your experiences and heart here. We may not meet here, but someday… And I pray the same for you. Live beyond the label and the lies. Live in the light of His truth. Blessing to you.

  26. says

    Alia, I love your tender heart and honesty in the reflection here. It’s interesting to get the inside story here, because every time I came across your path, you were so warm, friendly, approachable and ready for good conversation. And yet you knew you weren’t acting in full confidence and freedom, that you “wasted precious opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and risk it all to be known and to know”. I too am usually the one on the lookout for the overlooked. I especially resonated with your words: “My heart aches for the new girl, the one who stands on the fringe of conversations while everyone else’s backs turn inward, often without knowing that they have closed the circle.” Even here you are gracious to the ones who don’t even realize they’ve closed the circle. And we can be sure that when that happens, it too stems from their own insecurity and wanting to belong so badly that their attention is only on the inner circle and no one beyond it. P.S. Have you read “The Inner Ring,” a speech by C.S. Lewis? Lisa Jo Baker shared bits of it online once and then sent the rest of it my way. You’ll love it.

    • Alia Joy says

      I’m a voracious reader of C.S. Lewis but I swear that doesn’t ring a bell. I would love to, though. Is it online somewhere? I think it’s just as you said, we can be concerned with being included so much that we unintentionally exclude and I think that’s some of where I was at. No one was rude or exclusive that I came across at all, but I know how I felt inside and it was just slightly on the fringe of things. I think that I am also an introvert so if the conversations are snippets without more depth, I don’t feel as connected. One way that was different at other conferences/meetings or things in the past, is that I had already connected online and so I had built a relationship and then I was meeting in person. With Influence, I was coming in but hadn’t really built that connection beforehand (totally my own doing) so I just didn’t feel as connected. Even now, after reading other’s blogs, emails, and comments, I feel way more depth of relationship and connection so I think it was a trifecta of insecurity, personality, and no forethought about how to really make those bridges ahead of time. God has been using it all anyway and I can honestly say that so far, Influence is the best conference on blogging and living for Christ that I’ve been to and I would go again in a heartbeat. And now that I wrote you a mini novel in the comments, I want to say that you were a gem at influence. Your warmth and smile were a welcome salve and I can’t wait to get to know you more.

  27. says

    I read this and my heart sunk inside. I can’t rock a top bun or ankle boots or skinny jeans, but I also dropped everything (including our conversation) the minute I ran into my friends. And I feel so sorry because I got caught up in the moment of reconnecting with my friends from Blog Sugar who I hadn’t seen in over a year that all my good manners just went right out the window and I feel HORRIBLE.

    Especially because I know how it feels to have had those iPhone moments (I definitely had mine over the course of the weekend!) and want to reach out, but not really know how to “break into” a circle.

    I am sorry. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

    • Alia Joy says

      Kate, Don’t feel bad at all. I totally understand and honestly, there was so much going on between my own issues and God that I can’t pinpoint one thing that made me feel that way. And God really spoke to me that weekend about so many things beyond those issues, so be at peace. It wasn’t you, it was me. Ha! That sounds like such a cliche. But really, it was lovely to meet you even in my sleep deprived zombie form. ;) And I’m so glad you got to catch up with your friends and be blessed. Believe me, I was too.

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