I could feel the high levels of energy in the venue the minute I walked in. Excited women were everywhere! I kid you not when I say that every lady was chatting or laughing around me. Sweet smiles were filling the halls (and bathrooms) with more and more energy. We were all there with the same purpose: to be inspired. My inspiration started the moment I walked in and felt that energy.
I took a group of 25 Womenpreneurs to Christy Wright’s Business Boutique Conference in Nashville last weekend. There were a total of 3000 women entrepreneurs at this event and I knew finding seats together would be tough. I wanted to try my best to find a section for all of us if possible. Upon entering the center of the auditorium, we found an open section of seats with paper taped across the back. I couldn’t read it from where we were standing, but I knew exactly what that meant: these seats were reserved for someone important. I kept walking and looking around for a large open section of seats. I continued to skim the balcony… at least until my dear friend Mardi said, “Amanda! These seats have your name on them!” She was pointing to the seats I first saw when we walked in. For real???
My emotions went something like this: shocked, confused, relieved, grateful, worried, and then exposed. Exposed?!!! Why in the heck did my name on the back of twenty chairs have me feeling “exposed?” I had no clue, but the idea of feeling exposed by something so simple should worry me, right?
My husband has always been a mini-celebrity everywhere we’ve lived. He is not Hollywood famous, but locals tend to know him for his radio personality. Being his sidekick has its perks; perks such as special seating at concerts and such. That being said… this particular conference was not my first rodeo to special seating. So why in the heck did I feel EXPOSED?!! This made no sense to me.
Pursue the understanding of “Exposure.”
After a week of wondering why I felt exposed that day, I decided that I shouldn’t ignore it, but rather pursue understanding my heart. Little did I know, my exposure would lead to this blog post and moment in your life.
ex·po·sure (ikˈspōZHər/): noun: exposure
the revelation of an identity or fact, especially one that is concealed or likely to arouse disapproval.
“she took her life for fear of exposure as a spy”
The first exposure ever.
The first time in history where a woman experiences exposure is right after Adam and Eve sinned for the first time. They were both naked, but they didn’t know it… at least not until the Lord revealed their nakedness to each other. Adam and Eve both felt ashamed of their bare naked bodies and disobedience to the Lord. Immediately following this awareness, Adam and Eve started covering up their bodies (changing what others could see on the outside) and hiding from the Lord.
In case you don’t know the story, here is how it starts off:
“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” Genesis 3:1-10 NLT
We all know that there is no hiding from God. He is everywhere and sees everything. So why don’t we walk around naked anymore? I’m not trying to lead you to streaking, but let’s talk figuratively about the subject of nakedness.
I want you to think about that first moment where Eve felt exposed.
Just as Eve used leaves to cover up her naked body, we use modern-day tools to cover up our nakedness; our authentic self. We all try to portray something that we are not. We hide our inner beings because we are afraid that the people around us will not accept it or because we are ashamed of something in our lives. We stop being true to ourselves and shame has us hiding. We can’t hide from God (even though some of us try), but we definitely hide from each other. This is why we live in an inauthentic society.
We want our clients, customers, employees, vendors, co-workers, children, parents, teachers, friends, pastor, and anyone else in our lives to believe that we are “good” and that life is Instagram-worthy. We have sown together our own layers of fig leaves to cover up our nakedness. Only a select few people in our lives actually know how we feel or what we are struggling with. We try to hide within the crowd. Blend in. Don’t make a scene. Go with the flow. Dress in whatever is trending. Fit in. Allllll while the Lord created each and every one of us unique. No matter how hard we try… we can’t hide. We are different.
If you strip away your clothes, then you’ll see your naked body. You will see all the beauty, all the blemishes, all the curves and dimples, all of the pigmentation… all of it EXPOSED. This is you. This is your beautiful body that houses your soul.
If you strip away your camera filters and fancy hashtags…
If you strip away those falsies and red lipstick…
If you strip away the walls you’ve built around your heart…
We all have moments that we are not proud of.
Shame comes with bad decisions and we all have made those before. We are imperfect people, but we aim so hard to be perfect in other’s eyes. What if I told you that your imperfect self is your real self and people would rather have the REAL you? What if I told you that those mess ups give you opportunity to build character and empower others? What if I told you that your weirdness is beautiful? What if you knew that your awkwardness is really your unique way of communicating love to the world?
If you knew all of this… would you stand naked and exposed?
I come from a broken family. I’ve experienced major loss and watched drugs steal years from my closest family members. I’ve been homeless. I’ve lashed out in anger. I’ve said horrible things. I’ve cried a ton. I’ve sinned more times than I can count. I’m the most awkward person in group conversations. My brain is completely weird.
But I have also loved a deeply. Forgiven greatly. Built something from he ground-up. Rekindled broken relationships. Prayed for people who have wronged me. Apologized. Cried tears of joy. Repented. Had amazing conversations and I’ve even had a brilliant idea or two.
Without the bad experiences and shortfalls, how would we know what is good in our lives? Our character is developing and sometimes it takes a whole bunch of mess before we see the beauty in it.
Exposure is uncomfortable, but it is necessary.
There my name stood exposed to three thousand women… IF I took the seats, then people would know that one of the women sitting in that section would be, ‘Amanda Lairsey.’ Am I ready for people to know me? Will people accept me when they find out who Amanda Lairsey really is? What if someone asks me why I’m so special? Full-on exposure. I had to claim my name on those seats. I really had no choice at this point. I would have to be ME. Authentically me.
Authentically YOU. The Challenge.
Exposure is apart of the journey. Exposure is what we need to grow our businesses, careers, relationships, faith, and love for others. Exposure is apart of leadership. I know that this may be uncomfortable for you, but I promise… your success depends on it. So, friend… can I convince you to join me on the “exposure” row? Here is how:
- Grab a piece of paper.
- Write your name on it.
- Tape it to your chair.
- Post it on social media with your exposure story.
- Tell me what being exposed means to you. Use the hashtag, “#exposedandcaffeinated” and feel free to tag me. All handles: @amandalairsey