Monday, October 12, 2009

We Need a Resolution- Toya
It took me so long to become an Aaliyah fan, I hate to admit. But this was my joint.

This past weekend I had my first speaking engagement on "awake adam" at a women's retreat organized by the women's ministry of my home church in Philadelphia. BGLU readers may remember "awake adam" from the post "Say a Little Prayer for You" that I wrote almost a year and a half ago. I never thought that something I wrote in my room during my quiet time with God would later turn into something that I would later share with a few hundred women. The theme of the retreat was on the subject of love, sisterly love, specifically from I John 4:7-19. The scripture that prompted me to speak on "awake adam" was this:

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

I decided I was going to speak to single women about a different approach to how we deal with men. After reading John Eldredge's "Wild At Heart" (a MUST read if you want to understand anything about men) I started to become compassionate towards a lot of men in our generation. I also got rid of some bitterness in my heart towards some men that have hurt me because I realized that hurt people wind up hurting people. Once I began to understand their hurt and where it comes from, I got free. I didn't want to step up to the podium as an expert. As one of them, I just wanted to engage them with a question:

What if instead of bad mouthing men and complaining about them not stepping up, we as strong, powerful women who believe in God and the power of prayer, began praying for them?

I felt strongly that this is what I was meant to share months before I got to the retreat. I wasn't nervous at all because a lot of the women attending have known me since I was 8 years old. My only concern was that some single women would feel that I was telling them that the reason they aren't married is because they don't know how to treat men and because they don't pray. How many of us are sick of people making us feel like being single is our fault? I thought about that a lot and hoped that I would get my intent across once the time came.

I arrived at the retreat with my mother and one of my best friends since high school. The retreat began on Friday night and I was to speak Saturday morning at 9 am (good grief!). It was Friday night that I found out that the general session speaker who would speak three times that weekend was speaking on the story of Eve Friday night. Mind you, I was to speak on Adam Saturday morning.

Umm, I think God is trying to tell you something, Sug Avery.

I kind of freaked out. There are times when I know that God is paying attention to my life where I freak out. It's almost as if God is saying "Yeah, I know Toya. I set this up. I set a lot of things up. Glad you are now paying attention to me, daughter." I could barely sleep the whole night. I kept going over my notes during the night, adding notes, praying, and going over things again. It finally hit me that FOR REAL FOR REAL that in my quiet time, God gave me a message to speak to a group of women that He wanted them to hear. ME. He gave it and entrusted it to ME. That is serious and for me, frighteningly real.

I arrived at the session Saturday morning with not a bit of nervousness. I acutally love to speak in public. Also knowing that the message that I was sharing came from God and not me took a lot of the pressure off. I was so excited! The morning started off with praise and worship which was so moving. Next were praise dancers.

Side bar: Ok, look. I am a little on the skeptical side with praise dancers sometimes. Some praise dancing ministries are really good and have some pretty talented dancers. Some...not so much. I think sometimes in church we treat ministries like little league teams. Anyone can be in any ministry they want. If somebody can't sing, they should not join the choir or the praise team, I don't care how much they love to sing. But I digress.

The praise dancers did a wonderful number to Yolanda Adams' "The Battle is Not Yours, It's the Lord's". I had no idea I would start crying. None. In fact, I thought that the only time I would be getting emotional all weekend would be when my mother was going to sing Donald Lawrence's "Encourage Yourself" (possibly my my favorite gospel song ever) right before I was to speak. But there was something that happened when they performed. I remembered that I have been hearing a lot about battles lately. I didn't really know why but it frightened me. Even (Pastor) John Mayer's new record is called "Battle Studies" and as some of us know, his records usually hit our present situations right on the nose when they are released. It dawned on me that if there is so much power in prayer and God is truly calling us to pray, that we are indeed in a battle. We are in a battle for our brothers, we are in a battle for a families, and we are in a battle for each other's lives. I was overwhelmed.

In the midst of crying, I saw two words that looked kind of like this:


I really felt like the Lord wanted me to tell the single women there that what God wants to do is lift the burden of singleness feeling as though they are at fault. He wanted to exchange the burden of fault with the realization of power. In the bible, God revealed some pretty important things to women first before they were revealed to everyone else. Women are very important to God and He cares about our pain. When I realized this, I changed the introduction of my presentation and led with what I felt God was wanting to say.

The session went incredibly well. I got a semi-standing ovation, "Wild at Heart" that I heavily recommended sold out within minutes after I was finished, and they had to go back a few times to duplicate the cd's of my session because they kept running out. Many married women came up to me and confessed that they really thought that they weren't going to get anything out of my presentation. However, to their surprise and mine, they were challenged to treat the men in their lives (husbands, sons, brothers, etc.) a lot better and to encourage them much much more. Most importantly, above all else, a woman came up to me during breakfast on the last day and told me that what I said lifted a very heavy burden off of her. She looked so happy to tell me that she no longer feels the need to worry herself about whether she will ever be pretty enough or thin enough to get married. Mind you, this was one beautiful sister. She said I blessed her and I told her that her sharing that with me blessed me so much that I wanted to run around the entire hotel. Praise be to God!

Whatever God wants to do with "awake adam", I am completely fine with. I really am. A good number of women have asked me to write a book. One woman said she would be getting back to me in three weeks to make sure that I at least have a transcript together. Who knows? We'll see.

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