A year ago, I was asked to be a keynote speaker at a large mainline demonination's conference in San Antonio. I never knew where the invitation came from but I definitely knew, as my friend JTH said, that I would be "standing in some tall cotton." So, of course, I fretted about it all year and also looked forward to it with all the mixed feelings that these things always stir up in me.
As always, I piddled around getting the talk written and let myself get paralyzed with anxiety until it actually came together and then I was awed by how much I loved what I had been given to say and how grateful I was to get to say it.
When people have asked me, "How did it go?" I haven't known exactly what to say. The two things I most dreaded the night before--that there wouldn't be a lectern on the chancel for my notes and that only two people would come to my breakout session--both happened.
On the other hand, I grabbed a music stand for my notes at the last minute and it worked fine and the two people who came to the breakout were lovely and we had a really nice conversation that I think was helpful to them.
I think the best answer to the question is "I had a lot of fun" because I really did. The things that made me panic, like being told minutes before the session started that my talk was actually supposed to be on a different topic (it wasn't), turned out to be okay. I enjoyed being part of the conference and getting up to say what I had to say was exhilarating. The church's pastor (who I later realized was the person who invited me) told me, "That's exactly what I knew you would do" and a leading expert on family systems said publicly that I "did a wonderful job." That kind of affirmation feels great.
But really, when it comes right down to it, it was so much fun. I met some great people and got to see what God is doing in another part of the Body of Christ. I got to talk about my favorite things about Jesus with people who knew what I meant and I think they were blessed. C and I attended the worship service together that night (something we never get to do) and got to worship without responsibilities with a wonderful choir and orchestra and we got to hear a gifted African American woman preach. We stayed in a lovely hotel and had some rare time together, knowing Boo was fine at home with my mom and dad.
I know how blessed I am to get to live this life and I know that the only thing that can steal it away from me is my neurotic, anxious self-centeredness . . . and yet, even that is okay, because it eventually got me exactly where I needed to be.
Oh, and by the way, what you can't see in these photos are the three ginormous screens behind me. I didn't look.