HAVE YOU ALWAYS WONDERED WHAT IT’S LIKE TO ATTEND AN IMPACT WOMEN EVENT? Have you seen all of our ads, perhaps even been invited, yet still have reservations because you aren’t sure what you would be walking in to? We figured there was no better way to describe it than for you to hear the stories from some of the women who attended. Below, our friend Laura Ricks shares her story. ”There have been times in my life when I found myself in unexpected places; standing on a road I did not plan to travel wondering and wrestling with why I was there. Places where I felt unnoticed and hurting. Places where I was spending my time trying to fix everything and everyone so I could keep it all altogether. Places where life was overwhelming and hard to understand, I longed to know what I had done wrong. When I was a little girl, I was fierce. I was determined. I was passionate and full of dreams. Somewhere between that fierce little girl and my older self, I lost her. I began to let my circumstances and the world dictate who I was. My mom divorced my alcoholic dad, then moved us across the country away from the only family and friends I had ever known. I lived a life wishing to be seen and valued, but figured I would need to prove myself to everyone for this to happen. I inhaled and pushed forward determined to prove my worth to my family and friends. I was swimming in a sea of waves with people pulling me in every direction. As long as I could stay afloat, I was doing well. I was successful, or so I thought. By my adult years, I was pretty good at this life of “superwoman.” The waves seemed to be smaller or I maybe I got used to just staying afloat. Then it happened...the biggest wave I have ever had to battle came crashing over me. I found myself living with a husband struggling with addictions. The world around me began to crumble, and I could no longer fix it. To family and friends, I appeared as if I was holding it all together. BUT I ALLOWED MY FEARS TO SUFFOCATE WHO I WAS DESIGNED TO BE. I held tightly to the narrative I wished my life told instead of the one it was actually telling. Pretending was easier than letting anyone know what was really going on. I was drowning and couldn’t breathe. My biggest desire was that someone would notice. But this was also my biggest fear because they would notice all my failures. I would be judged for the story I was living because it wasn’t good enough. Not long after this wave came crashing down, I found myself at Impact Women, with other women, listening to speakers bravely sharing their stories. I began to see my narrative unfolding in their stories; the very narrative I was so terrified to let others know. As I listened to these speakers, I began to feel the weight lifting off me. I can vividly remember the moment… that I exhaled. I could breathe again. I was not alone in my story. Other women had similar stories. THEIR BRAVERY IN SHARING CAUSED ME TO FIND FREEDOM FROM MY SELF-IMPOSED PRISON. In that exhale, I knew that my fear would no longer keep me from who I was designed to be. I no longer had to be who others thought I needed to be because I had a place. I had a purpose. I had a story to tell. I experienced hope, healing, and grace in the next few years. That fierce little girl was found again. I began to take huge leaps because I know there is a tribe of women God has placed in my life and they are behind me each step of the way. WE ALL HAVE A STORY TO TELL AND IT IS WORTHY OF SHARING EVEN IF IT ISN’T THE NARRATIVE WE EXPECTED. EXHALING IS FREEING AND SO MUCH BETTER THAN SUFFOCATING IN A LIFE FULL OF FEARS.” We know it requires bravery to walk through our doors, especially when you are walking through a season where your story is heavy. Our hope is that you might be willing to take the risk and check us out. We would love to help you exhale. SAVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!