I had finally done it — taken my first intentional personal retreat.
I’d packed all the books, papers, and food I’d need for three days and drove to Asheville, North Carolina. My desire was to spend time alone — away from everything and everyone — to make sense of what God had placed on my heart.
I sat in the middle of the bed, my notebooks and papers surrounding me like a horseshoe. Gazing out the window, I let my eyes wander up the hill until they rested on the 100-year-old inn that perched overlooking the valley. My mind reviewed the last year.
I’d felt drawn to make myself available to speak to women to encourage and challenge them to enter a mentoring relationship — a relationship of investing in and being invested in generationally. I found myself faced with overwhelming frustration as I grappled to make sense of it all. How could I compile all that I had learned about mentoring and the need for it into a presentation when public speaking wasn’t one of my natural gifts?
As I thought about it, I realized this wasn’t the first time I’d faced a daunting challenge such as this. My mind returned to another time and place.
It was 7 years ago when the gentle whisper of the Lord kindled in my heart a desire to invest in women a decade or more younger than myself. I felt unequipped. My perception was that these women needed someone who had the answers. I was painfully aware that I did not! But as I was obedient, I discovered that the gift I brought to these relationships was my ability and willingness to be disarmingly transparent.
But it took me some time to realize this.
At first, I believed it was humiliating for me to let my new friends see just how much I lacked. In my distorted thinking, I assumed that I needed to measure up to some hash mark on the Christian yard stick before I could deem myself “usable” by God in this type of relationship.
As I wrestled with the Lord, I told Him that because of my insufficiency I was the wrong person for the job. I was shocked when I saw that from His perspective — I was exactly what He wanted. I learned, perhaps for the first time in my life, that the very thing I viewed as a weakness was in fact what God considered a strength. He intended to use my imperfection as a gift to those I agreed to invest in.
Since then, I’ve learned an important truth: authenticity invites authenticity.
With any relationship I enter, whether with younger women, my peers, or older women, transparency keeps me humble. It continually prompts me to check myself at the door to make certain I’m bringing the “real” Karen to the table.
The real Karen isn’t always a pretty picture. At times my words are not so encouraging and my attitude isn’t always so grace giving. But even in those times I learn about conviction, repentance, and receiving and giving grace.
A friend told me recently that leaders in any given field agree to “grow in public” for all to see. I have found this to be true. As I watch others witness my flaws and thank me for being willing to grow in public it fuels my commitment to authenticity.
As I model authenticity, I have witnessed others be drawn to authenticity themselves. Real growth occurs in each of us as we become real with one another. It is when I peel back the layers I have in place to protect myself that others can see me as I really am. It’s then that they can come along side me as scripture instructs.
Returning to the present, I’m reminded that it’s authenticity and not great public speaking skills that I’ll bring to my new venture.
Starring out the window and up the hill one more time, I whisper “yes.” “Yes” to speaking to groups of women. “Yes” to asking them to be authentic with one another in relationships. I can ask them knowing they may well face the same fear that I have. The same feelings of insufficiency. I can face them hoping that in some way my story will encourage them.
After all, as I learned many years ago, authenticity invites authenticity.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, author of Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships5 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships10 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions