I was on the road again last week. I attended the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Conspire 2018 conference in Albuquerque last weekend and it was a blessing on multiple levels. There is a lot for me to reflect upon and unpack, and I intend to share parts of that process here, writing about aspects of the conference over the weeks ahead.
However, that’s not what I’m going to write about today. Today I’m reflecting on the gift of connection and my resistance to making the trip in the first place.
You see, I didn’t want to do this. I was invited to join the volunteer team for the conference rather late—less than a month ago, in fact. I already intended to attend the CAC’s conference next spring, and really didn’t feel like traveling again after a very full summer. Plus, I would have to reach out and rearrange a full half-dozen appointments and spiritual guidance sessions in order to free up the time. So the first couple of times I was asked, I just said no.
But my CAC contact was persistent—and perhaps I “should” have heard that as a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Instead, the next thing I tried to do was to share this opportunity with a friend of mine and get her to go in my place. The theme of this conference is “The Path of Descent is the Path of Transformation” and I thought it would be much more appealing to her than it was to me (yes, that was part of my resistance!)—and I was right. She was quite excited about the opportunity—but when I reached out to my CAC contact to suggest she attend instead, I learned that it was my particular experience and expertise that she wanted in this volunteer role, so a substitute was not welcome.
The next issue I came up with was where to stay (since a volunteer position, by its very nature, doesn’t provide funds for room and board!). I was not able to room with my parents or my sister, so I tried to use that to say I couldn’t come—and my CAC contact suggested I reach out to other CAC volunteers and stay with one of them.
That’s when I began to “wake up.” I remembered a conversation I’d had with my spiritual director at the beginning of 2018, where I made a commitment to embracing God’s invitations and opportunities during this year, rather than trying to make things happen. How ironic that I was now resisting God’s latest invitation!
Convinced now that God was pushing me to attend this conference, I contacted some long-time friends who had a room available and were glad to host me. I then reached out to rearrange all those appointments—and every single person was gracious and understanding.
Thinking about it in hindsight, I believe God began pushing me to attend this conference even earlier. A client reached out and said he would be attending Conspire 2018 and wondered if I would be there as well. This is a person I’ve worked with online for years, but had never met in person. Initially I said no, of course, but was grateful later to say yes. A CAC staffer I’d only worked with online and via Skype also asked if I would be at the conference, and I was able to have lunch and conversation with him because I was there. I also had lunch with a second client who attended the conference—something arranged the week of the conference because he learned I would be there.
Making connections is critical to the freelance life. We need to stay connected with our clients and meeting with them in person when we mostly work online is an important way to strengthen that connection. My resistance could have led me to miss those opportunities—including a conversation with yet another CAC staffer about possible overflow editing work that could come my way. Then, the last evening, I connected with a woman who is seeking to begin leading spiritual retreats and exploring spiritual guidance training—yet another valuable connection with my work life!
Bottom line? In addition to the incredible content of the conference itself (stay tuned for more on that), I gained an abundance of opportunities for connection with contacts new and old, related to all aspects of my work and ministry. I would have missed all that if I had given in to my resistance and stayed home.
What do you resist? Can you be open to making the extra effort and see where God’s invitation might lead?
P.S. A few hours after I posted this blog, I got a call from my CAC contact, reminding me that she had first asked me to volunteer at this conference a full year ago! I honestly do not remember that conversation, but I’m not surprised. Resistance can indeed be quite strong!