Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vertical Living - Look Up.

This morning, my boss and I trekked across the great state of the O-K-L-A for a 3 day Financial Aid conference. Per our usual routine, we spent the morning talking about what we did the night before. We usually talk about the kids and their crazy antics, our significant others "acting like guys," all the things we didn't get done, and how much we love our families in spite of their flaws. And far too often, I am ashamed to say, the conversation ends up looking like this: flaw. flaw. flaw. I love them to pieces, but oh my gosh that flaw!

I'm human. And sometimes I err. And sometimes that err is aloud.

This morning, I told my boss that I was ready to give up on a situation. More specifically, a person. I was tired of feeling guilty, I was tired of feeling like a bad person, I was tired of feeling inadequate, and I was tired of putting forth effort with little to no results. I was done with one step forward two steps back.

Enter Robin Marsh.

Robin was the keynote speaker at our Financial Aid conference. She is friends with Miss America, she is a news anchor on Channel 9 in Oklahoma City, and she has nothing to do with financial aid. My boss and I looked at each with the same thought: this is pointless - what is she even doing here?

Enter Robin Marsh.

She gave the most moving speech I have ever in my life had the pleasure of hearing. She said, "When you verbalize gratitude, you foster peace. You foster positivity. I call it a vertical living, because you look up, and you give thanks to God... Don't let flesh make you look out. Look up. If you compare, you foster instant disaster. Look up."

She asked us what we are thankful for. Family, friends, health, life, faith. These answers were repeated throughout the room. My immediate thought was that I was thankful for Chris and the kids. But then a voice appeared in the back of my human, erroneous mind and said, Nope! Remember? We're done with effort with one of those individuals! No mas from this girl! Dunzo!

Enter Robin Marsh.

She spoke right to me when she gave the following message: young girls need us. There's a young girl that needs you. A girl can look in a magazine and in just 90 seconds, she will feel worse about herself.   [Robin then snapped her fingers, counting the 90 seconds; the room was silent.]   Dare to compare? Let's dare NOT to. Let's be role models to the girls who need us. Let's not allow one burr in our boot keep us from making a difference in one person's life. That person needs you.

There in the middle of conference room with 200+ people, in the front row of tables, with my boss and peers and a news anchor in front of me, I had tears falling down my cheeks. Robin said she had something for us. She and Miss America 2007, Lauren Nelson, had written a book. "God, Girls, and Getting Connected: Spiritual Apps for a Teen's Life." I thought to myself I want that for P, but I don't have any money.
Without skipping a beat, Robin looked my direction and said, "If you can't afford, I will give you one. You need it that much."

Enter God.

I'm sure Robin was talking to every person in that room. But she was seeking me. I felt it. I felt her message. And for the first time in a long time, I felt God. I felt Him within me, I felt Him as me, I felt Him in her words and in my heart. 

At this time, she quoted Romans 12:15. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
She said the rules are simple. If you are happy, let me celebrate with you. If you are going through a hard time, then let me cry with you. But always be grateful for the storm, because there is joy there. Think of what could come of it. Think of what you could do for that young girl.

I don't often like to share my religious beliefs or spiritual feelings with people, let alone social media. But I tell you this: I was completely enveloped in the love of Christ today. I absolutely cannot wait to get home, hug the individual that I vow here and now to never ever ever give up on, and hand her the book that Robin Marsh signed for her; wrote for her; worked on with God for the betterment of her life.

And mine.

Funny how a conference meant for financial aid professionals can have a profound effect on my heart; how a book meant for a pre-teen can change my relationship with God; and how one speech can change the rest of my life.