We sat on the 52nd floor of Prudential Tower inside the Top of the Hub restaurant. It was the last evening of a week-long training in Boston, Massachusetts. The city lights twinkled in the night-time landscape. My female co-worker’s fork froze midair ascent when he said it.
His name was Alan. I had stored him in my contacts as Al from Nashville–met 2012.
Among the dark wood finishes and fresh flowers, we had a deep conversation about youth led substance abuse prevention and teen empowerment. With intrigue and conviction, he points to me, “You are smarter than I thought you were.” I am silent, then he continues, “Looking at your face this week I didn’t know you were this intelligent.”
Now…I may suspect this was a moment of unconscious bias toward females in his life. It could be. But I chose to own my piece of it quietly because this was the fourth time in my adult life that something like this was said to me. Four felt like a theme. Even if the score is three males to one female who said something similar over the years, it is still a theme. I’ve been back burner simmer thinking about this subject matter for a while.
Fast forward to 2018 when I’m getting ready to leave for a writer’s conference. On my list to discuss with my Masterminds group was: My Resting Face Problem. I filled in the 4 women team on the issue. They offered quality meeting people for the first-time guidelines. Then we came up with the idea to have specific words in mind all week that would hopefully project on my face in the quiet times, walking around campus times, and all times. They suggested I come up with 3-4 words.
So, I did just that. During the drive I committed that the following words would be on my face while in public always: welcoming, kindness, humble, confidence. Each time I left my room I looked in the mirror and said those words.
Then a metaphoric resting face earthquake happened not 24 hours into the conference. I received a punch you in the stomach kind of phone call from home. The call was about work, co-workers and children I care about immensely. It was a blind side and news of a likely short-sighted decision that could roll down hill in a painful way. I turned my face toward the nearest wall because I felt the strategy words slide right off my face.
I quickly prayed for many things and did my best to acknowledge gratitude that no one was physically bleeding or worse at home. I was minutes away from the next meeting with a literary agent. Turning toward a wall may have morphed into bouncing off walls because someone noticed. I strained for composure when the sweetest person scooped me up. Her name is Janine Rosche. This dear sister sized me up in less than 2 minutes and asked if she could pray me over the hurdle. Uh, yes please, Jesus take the wheel, I’m thinking. She prayed me from brain implosion WHAT!? to calm. I am forever grateful. She is a Christian Romance writer. Her blog is JanineRosche.com. [I will buy anything she writes–hear that publishers?!]
The shakeup was Monday. I carried on prayerfully the rest of the week. Mostly I could focus, but I felt my body stress while in a new situation and it hurt to know people were hurting at home. Resting face words became even more important because I used thinking about the words to center myself each day. I needed to remember who I am and why I was there.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday hummed along and I enjoyed connecting with people and learning. Thursday afternoon I sat down before the long drive home to care for some business deadlines and emails. The covered patio overlooking a pond was a comfort. I knew I’d feel better if I knocked out the work rather than pause at rest stops looking for wi-fi.
So help me, the phone rings and during the call I hear another piece of work information that sours my stomach. People can be cruel. The details don’t matter, but it was a problem that led me to be concerned whether I could handle driving 6 hours home.
Most conference attendees were already gone. The campus was quiet. Along comes a husband and wife team from Alabama that I had met earlier in the week. They run a marriage ministry. They stopped to say hello. I explained that I was concerned about making the drive. They asked if they could pray for me. Yes, please.
And then the full circle moment zapped my heart.
This is a clip from their prayer:
“….Lord, every time we’ve seen Glenna this week her face is a welcoming face, a kind face. She is weary right now before the drive, but we ask you restore her confidence that we know is in her. We thank you for the humble spirit we’ve sensed from her all week….”
I almost fell to the ground.
God is good. God looks out for us and all of our struggles. He even helps with resting face fixes!
While the Bible may not talk about the term “resting face”, I do cherish the following verse because rest and God’s presence is vital through the ups and downs of life. In our facial expressions God can give us rest and focus. In our struggles the greatest theme above any of our own life themes is the fact that God can weave the words and people we need into our current challenge. We have His presence and we have His kind of rest available. He will go with us.
And he said, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 NKJV