I have always been someone to go after my desires, my dreams, be bold in pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. Since I was in my teens I would say, “I never want to wonder ‘what if’, I want to experience it all!” As this became my heartbeat I chased every passion, every desire, used my physical strength to show I could get through anything, spoke life giving words over myself when times got tough and kept going no matter what.
Fast forward to about 10 years later and at the beginning of this year I felt like my word for the year was BREAKTHROUGHS and VITALITY. I can say I have more Vitality than I have in years! AND it’s definitely been a year of breakthroughs.
A month ago I got a call from a friend of mine who is our partner for Wholeness Journey, The Cause. She told me that she wanted to nominate me for BOLD Leadership Training, by Driven Leadership. I immediately began crying in gratitude because I knew that Morgan, The Cause and their board of directors did not take it lightly. It was an honor to be nominated for this. When Morgan told me about it last year and I saw how it changed her life I knew I wanted to do it when the opportunity came. Then it happened! I had absolutely NO idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was both TERRIFIED and EXCITED at the same time.
I kept asking God what He wanted me to learn from all of it beforehand and I kept feeling and hearing the words, “trust me, you will know.” Stepping into the unknown is not something I am afraid of; I generally thrive on the unknown but this time I knew it was going to be a deeper stretch than I had in a long time.
The day before the training, I told the leader of the BOLD training that I am a strong woman who generally is the challenger for others and I need to be challenged. I gave her permission to challenge me in the ways that I need it where I may not see. She said, “Now that I know, I most certainly will. I have a different role at the training but remember that I am on your side the whole time.” After she said that I immediately felt my stomach sink because now there was no hiding. I knew that I wasn’t going to pretend that everything was fine if it wasn’t or that my outer strength, I’ve created a shield to protect myself with wasn’t going to be the same either. I said it out loud and I knew I wanted any barrier gone that could keep me from leading anyone else well.
When I arrived I realized the 14 people I’d be spending the next 2.5 days together with were all very different. Some were confident walking into the training, some terrified and some a little bit of both. I was definitely both.
Our very first exercise we did was one that was definitely nerve racking. While I could pull it off on the outside, on the inside I was feeling anxious. In this exercise I was able to pull from my head and plan everything I was going to do and how I was going to come off to the room. Even though I was nervous, it also wasn't too difficult for me.
One of the following exercises was one that got me. I tried a few times until my team said, no Jess..that’s not it. They weren’t buying into what I was expressing. I knew on the inside that I wasn’t doing my best and there was more as they also knew. About my 4th try, Mary, the leader of the BOLD training stopped me and said something like, “Jess, I know you’re strong. And you’re too much in your head.” Everyone could tell that I was trying to plan on how to express myself. That is not how it works. Expressing yourself is not about thinking about how to express yourself, you just do it.
Most of my life since I was a child, I’ve learned to be strong, to figure anything out and keep going. Even when I felt something, I wouldn’t let myself really feel because I learned to put all my emotions aside to get to the end goals, no matter what it was. I learned to be everyone else’s emotional support as they were a mess, I had it together. I have always been a huge feeler, yet to express the way I felt all the time seemed like it would be a mess. Sometimes I feel excited, sometimes sad, disappointed, frustrated, angry, annoyed, joy, etc….and no matter the feeling I would compose myself on the outside which then internally suppressed my real emotions.
In this exercise I was asked to share my biggest dreams. Building a movement & community of people living their purposes in a healthy & whole way! Then I was asked to share my biggest fears. My biggest fears are “what people think.” What if they think I am in way over my head? What if they find out I don’t have my whole life together, so then who am I to create this? What are they going to say? Do they think I want to be like everyone else? What if no one shows up? What if I work really hard and it doesn’t work, then I’d have to start all over again?
FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. What I have been creating is a false reality of what could be. The false reality I have been creating hasn’t even happened yet, so get over it, Jess! Also, I learned that I need to embrace the haters. Growing up, I also wanted to be liked by everyone because I wanted people to think that I was a good person. But guess what, I am absolutely clear that it doesn’t matter if people think I am a good person, at least I know that I am a good person. The only opinion that matters is Gods and myself. I remember going through one of the hardest seasons of my life a couple years back and I felt I needed to explain and defend myself. I felt God’s whisper tell me, “I am your defender, you don’t have to defend yourself anymore.” What a breath of fresh air that was! Now, as I go into my dreams, into the things I know to do, I will embrace the fact that not everyone is going to be FOR ME. That is OK!
As someone who genuinely loves to give and help others, I, along with most of my teammates have a harder time receiving without giving in return. While we went through a specific exercise, something clicked in my heart; a longing and desire to be loved. It was a craving I hadn’t felt in a loooooong time. I explained this to everyone and we laughed as we made a joke that I fell in love with everyone. It was one of the first times in years that I said “I can’t wait for my man to love me.” As this woman that is a spit fire, always fine on the outside, always level headed, figures out how to make anything possible..well, this woman is also gentle and has a softness about her. I now embrace the desire to be loved and to love. It’s a very beautiful, humble and scary thing for me but I can finally say that I am so excited for when this man comes along and when I can fully let him in. It used to make me feel weak when I thought of needing a man, and now it makes me feel empowered because it reminds me how we are not made to do life alone. Yes, you can still be fully your whole self and know that you are designed for relationship and a team. I am fully aware that if I am going to live out the calling God has for my life and lead others well; I sure can’t do it alone.
When having these breakthroughs there was another powerful one that I will never forget looking into the eyes of my teammates. One of the last expressive exercises was to combine everything we learned all together. To be honest, I don’t even remember the things I talked about. What I do remember was shouting at the top of my lungs, gasping for air, crying, moving around the room and looking into the eyes of my teammates as they were cheering me on and fighting for me. I remember saying “I AM WORTH IT. I AM ENOUGH.”…and my whole team cheered even louder reminding me that I am worth fighting for. It reminded me that even though I care and believe that everyone else is SO WORTH IT, I had to connect my head to my heart and remember that for myself. It reminded me that “people don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel.” I felt loved, championed, fought for, alive, empowered, free, & excited.
When we were giving our last speeches at our graduation, I found myself crying the whole time. I was so emotional as I saw every person and who they are. I loved every piece of them. Who they are & who they desire to be, and noticing the transformation they all had in just 2.5 days. I found myself trying to pull it together, to stop crying and to then get up and speak. “No Jess, are you kidding me? This is who you are, get up there!” Is the voice that I heard. I got up and said “Here I am, a perfectly, imperfect mess. And I don’t care what anyone thinks!” I heard from my team saying “We like this side of you, Jess! I then began to share my appreciation to what the training, the teammates and the head leaders meant to me.
I learned that I have been teaching people how to be vulnerable yet I was rarely leading from that place. I have been too stuck in my head that I haven’t been able to express what is in my heart. I desire to be fully loved, to love and I am ready to receive love romantically with my person. I am worth fighting for and I am completely worth all of my desires & dreams. I don’t care what anyone thinks and if you don’t like it, that’s totally fine. I learned that when we lead with our heart that people will also be empowered to do the same. We don’t have to explain it, we express it.
My desire is to keep walking boldly yet to walk in a mighty boldness of inner and outer strength that I have never done before. I desire to keep going through the doubts and to develop a team who is ALL IN for their own and others’ lives.
There are lives that are waiting to be woken up, shaken up and able to fully express the perfectly, imperfect mess they are too. Lives are at stake and it’s up to me and it's up to you to chose to step up and step out to believe in God who’s bigger than my own fears and to believe in myself that I am capable of a whole lot more than I could ever imagine. We can't do it alone. Rally together & watch out world, we have lives to change! Who’s in?!
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