Saving you a seat at the table

school-lunch-trayI felt like an awkward sophomore who found herself at the senior lunch table.

Everyone seemed to know each other, old friends hugging and chatting about things I had no knowledge of.  A heavy heart-loneliness settled over me as I scanned the room for familiar faces.

I feel that way at every conference, even at Allume.

Some of my friends are furrowing brows right now, trying to reconcile this admission of insecurity with the confidence they tell me I “radiate.”

allume fun

No, I don’t have a split personality. I’m just willing to admit that I feel out of place sometimes. A LOT of times, to be perfectly honest. And I’m going out on a limb here:

I think everyone feels somewhat out of place, especially at a women’s conference.

Ann Voskamp chatWe look at the other women, especially sweeties like Ann Voskamp, and can’t help but compare ourselves to women like her

– who have bigger platforms.
– who have have fancy business cards and cool clothes.
– who have Thomas Nelson, Lifeway and Zondervan competing for their books.

On and on it goes.

It’s funny that I don’t have any of those things, and yet people see me as confident.

I’ll let you in on a secret: that confidence isn’t mine.

You see, I’ve wrestled feelings of insecurity for a long time. I can’t quite pin them to the mat, but I’ve figured out a way to get them in a grapevine hold and stop them from squirming so much.

I ask myself how it would look if Jesus Himself was in my situation,
and then I do THAT.

So any confidence you see? That’s Christ IN me.

Even though I might feel sophomoric, I know I’m not in Him. I know He isn’t comparing me to anyone, and so there’s no reason for me to start comparing myself. I want a healthy “God-confidence,” an understanding of who I am in Christ and the grace to live that to the fullest.

And I want that for all my friends. Book deal or not. Cool clothes or not. 100K Twitter followers or not.

So anytime you’re tempted to feel “less than,” remember Ephesians 2:10, Suz-paraphrase:

He’s uniquely gifted and called EACH of us.
You have skills and passions and influence, and
NO ONE ELSE can do what He’s empowered YOU to do!

So let’s scooch over and make room at the table, encouraging each other in Christ Jesus. There are no seniors here. Only servants.

BTW thank you for your prayers for my site reconstruction. There’s a learning curve but it’s coming along :)

Your comments bless me more than you know.


  1. Perfect, Susan, just perfect. What a simple solution to a really annoying problem.

    Yes, I am guilty of looking at you as socially graceful, a lovely butterfly floating from person to person, offering beauty and joy. Who knew we were awkward sophomore soul sisters at the senior table? Yet another reason to love you! :-)

    • You’re a sweetie, Kim. Yes, we are most definitely sophomore soul sisters! It was so great to meet you in person :)

  2. This is so sweet Susan, I will scooch over and make a place for you any time. Just last night I invited someone to a prayer and praise service at my church, which is very big, and as I waited for my friend and looked around for anyone I might know, I felt like I was 10 years old and lost. And then I felt stupid for feeling that way. It’s reassuring to know that doesn’t make me a weirdo. If you feel like that, maybe everyone does.

    • It’s funny, Kathleen — I always think I’m the weirdo! And truth be told, I probably am a little weird 😉 But those feeling of insecurity and being left out, I think that’s pretty much universal. Thanks so much for sharing the weirdness with me :)

  3. Susan, there is room for you at my table! This was such an encouraging post. I still struggle with the comparison game but I also know God is at work in me and thank goodness I’m not where I used to be. Thank you for your beautiful heart! Much love. Beth

    • Yes, Thank You Lord that I’m not where I used to be! Moving from glory to glory with you, Beth :) Consider yourself hugged!

  4. Oh, Susan you hit it straight on! I love that “how Jesus would handle this situation” idea. In Him I have His confidence. I will use this also when those times come along that I feel inferior in a group setting. You made my day – thank you!
    Blessing over you as you serve Him.

    • Oh Etta, you just made MY day! Yes, always keep that WWJD idea in mind. He would always be gracious and welcoming to everyone, and that’s just how I want to be!
      Blessings to YOU :)

  5. Being the king of insecurity, I do understand. But you do need to know that whenever I am around you and your family, I am blessed beyond words.

    • That blessing you receive is just your blessing bouncing off us, Mark. We love you guys :) Thanks for taking time to read and comment.

  6. I cried the day after I came home. I felt like I had hurt the feelings of two women because I couldn’t get to them when they saved me a place. I cried because I felt like the bottom rung of a ladder when everyone was almost to the top. You, and your joy gave me strength in the days we were there. I was and I am so thankful for you as a friend! Love ya, susta

    • Oh girl, you are one of the most generous people I’ve ever MET. Seriously. It makes me sad that you felt “less than” but it just goes to show that it’s an issue for ALL of us. I’m so thankful for YOU, and grateful I’m on your short list 😉 <3

  7. I am so glad I met you and got to spend time with you. You are such a special friend and I get the whole “place at the table thing!” I wrote a similar post. Hugs my friend.

    • Your post was GREAT, Mary! Gracious, I’m so glad you and Diane got together for set-up, and that the Lord ordered my steps to get in Greenville at just the right time. You are such a blessing and I look forward to more adventures with you! And more Tupelo Honey, while we’re at it :)

  8. Boy, if we could peer inside each other we’d probably see a gazillion butterflies of insecurity and self consciousness trying to get out. So good to be reminded of Christ in us. And P.S. You Are like Ann Voskamp–beautifully uniquely gifted and glorious! So glad to have met face to face.

    • It would be SCARY, Marcia — more like bats flying around in a cave! Hahaha! I’m so glad I got to meet you and spend time chatting. Hopefully we’ll both be at BRMCWC next May and continue the conversation :)

  9. Susan,
    This is so true and the longer I live, the more I realize many of us are the same way. Thank God, for “Christ in me”…the hope of glory. He makes room for all who are born into His Kingdom and I’m so glad He’s prepared a table for all his girls and included you.
    So glad your website is coming along.
    God bless you today.

    • Thank you, Glenda! You’re always such a great encourager. It’s good to sit near you at the table :)

      Yes, the hope of glory that’s there inside of us. We need to remember to let that light SHINE, especially when we’re feeling “less than.”

      Oh please continue to pray for me to get things back to normal here. It’s still frustrating me and I SO want to be freed of that. However, He is sufficient. I’m trusting in that.
      VA hugs up the mountains to you!

  10. Great post Susan – I love your realness. 😉 I’ve been there too . . . You’re a blessing my dear and God bless you as you serve our Lord! 😉 Much love, Hester :)

  11. ps. Your site looks AWESOMEEEEEEE!!!!!

    • You’re a doll, Hester. Yes, we’re all awkward sophomores on the inside :)
      The site is coming along. Would you please continue to pray? I’m anxious to get all this behind me. Thank you!!

  12. Only servants. … Yes.

    I just love you, Susan Stilwell. So glad I got to have some special small-group times with you at Allume.

    • SO grateful for those times, Jennifer. You’re as sweet in real life as online!
      Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment :)

  13. Anita Taylor

    ohhhh you are so right sista! I know sometime people thinks I am really outgoing BUT I bet you haven’t got a clue that the Guatemala trip we did together… well, you know the scoop. I wrestled with it. Here’s a confession I have to make I do scan the room & everybody around me & watch at first. Then I sort of fill a need of a person, then I get comfortable. I remembered when we were in Israel in 2009 (first time we met) & John R. can’t stand too long & we were at the wailing wall, I heard him say that he need to sit down, the first thing I did was scan for a chair & fortunately I saw a chair took it across the plaza & brought it to him & that is when I get comfortable with people. You encourage me & I need you to know that!! Your new site looks so nice, easy to my eyes. :) Love ya!!

    • You ROCK, Anita. And you have this happy charm that puts everyone at ease. And you make us laugh! Gosh, I’ve learned so much from you and I love you to pieces! But I have a question: Won’t you take me to — Taco Bell?? 😀

  14. Umm, that would be me over at the Freshman table! I feel blessed to get to hang out with some sophomores!

    Yes, the site looks great!!!

    Love you!

    • Oh please Kristi, you SO belong at the senior table! But I knew you’d love the reference to “less than” land :)

  15. “So any confidence you see? That’s Christ IN me.”

    So much truth, here! Seriously, this whole post is SO good, Susan. You are such a huge encouragement and blessing to me – I am beyond grateful the Lord allowed our paths to cross!

    PS: your site is looking good, too!

    • The pleasure is all MINE, Emily. I seriously sit in stunned silence sometimes, totally overwhelmed by the amazing friends He’s brought into my life. I can’t tell you how many times you GGs have spoken into my life. SO grateful!

  16. Hey honey—I just took some time for myself in this crazy household and read your blog for today. I love it and it certainly blessed me! I love looking out of my window and knowing you are right there. Love you!

    • And you know I’m always scooching in next to you! You’re the best, Lynn. If y’all ever decide to move, you HAVE to find a place for us across the street. It just won’t do for us to be separated.
      I love YOU :)

  17. I love “scooching over”- love it! The image and what you mean.

    I ABSOLUTELY love the Joy and mischievousness on your face in that top pic.

    I LOVE that you give credit but acknowledge what we all see in you! without saying… ” not me….”. We need to learn to take those words and turn them back to him instead of deflecting and I love that you did that!! Do that!

    • Big smiles for me because I can hear you saying that, Dawn! You’re the sweetest, and quite the radiant one yourself! I’m glad you let me scooch in next to you :)

  18. I can’t quit laughing over this, and pondering “I felt like an awkward sophomore who found herself at the senior lunch table.” You nailed it. That’s how I feel most of my life. My heart resonate here big time — thanks for being such an authentic friend.

  19. Oh, wow. I loved this post and feel like I could relate to so much of what you wrote!

    I found your blog through the Allume link-up; I didn’t go to the conference (sadly, I didn’t know anything about Allume until a couple of weeks ago), but I have spent so much time reading everyone’s recaps that I really wish I had. So much of what you wrote rings true for me; I am so insecure, I have let fear keep me from attending Christian blogging conferences in the past two years, even though it has been on my heart and I long for community and fellowship!

    For some reason, though, this particular conference feels more “right” than any other conference I have read about and researched. I really hope to attend next year (I’m all the way in Hawaii, so it’s a bit of a trek for me) so that I can meet some of you beautiful and inspiring women in person.

    Thank you for sharing about your experience and reminding me that we are all cut from the same cloth; none of us are exempt from fear or insecurity, but how lucky are we to be able to put our fears to rest in Him!


    • Hi Angie!
      I’m so glad you stopped by and took time to comment. I had a great time at Allume, the “awkward sophomore” feeling notwithstanding 😉 The Allume team does a wonderful job of not only providing information, but also cheering you on at whatever level you’re at. Great keynotes, helpful breakouts, and the chance to meet some online friends in real life. I think you’d have a wonderful time!

      If you decide to go, BE SURE to let me know. I’d love to grab coffee with you there!

  20. Susan, thank you for being so open about your insecurities. As you know, I struggle with insecurity in a variety of situations. It seems to vary with the season of life I am in. Going through menopause was a tough time for me. Today while driving around doing errands, I remembered that two times, I had accidents making left hand turns downtown. I thought I could write a blog about “Menapause and Making Left Hand Turns”! I can laugh now! Praying for the rebuilding of your website. Judy

    • Thank you so much, Judy. I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip!

  21. Amen and Amen! Are you talkin’ to me…? 😉

    • I’m talking to ALL of us! Hahaha — glad it’s not just me, Karin :)

  22. I am the same way Susan! People think I appear so confident but inside I don’t. It is Christ in me that allows me to go forward and reach out to others. There’s still a shy person inside. How wonderful that you got to go to Allume. I will need to read your posts about it. Love the photos on this post. How amazing to meet Ann Voscamp in person too.

    Blessings and love,

    • YAY for Christ in us, Debbie. I love that His light shines through our cracks :)

  23. Susan,
    Love your perspective…yes, only servants and God-confidence :) Miss you, sweet friend :)

    • Hey girl, I miss you too. What a great time we had in Guatemala. You shined Jesus there!

  24. I’ve been in Prague…again believe it or not…but just wanted to tell you I love your new website! It looks great. And why is it we are so intimidated by women trying to accomplish the same thing we are? I understand so well! And I’m always reminding myself…I need to see myself the way Jesus sees me. He gave me a specific purpose that is not exactly the same as anyone else. Great post! I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to get anything accomplished recently. And just when I think things are slowing down, something else comes up. :/

    • I hear ya, Celeste. It seems something is always popping up, but hopefully now that Prague is out of the way, you can concentrate and be your normal productive self!

  25. Great post Susan! I’ve wrestled with those things too – comparison, insecurity. In fact, my latest blog post deals with the danger of comparison. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Oh gosh, Dave — comparison kills us, doesn’t it! I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for taking time to read and comment.

  26. Ah, those feelings keep me at home instead of attending the conferences. Add an introverted personality, and it’s just too much to overcome. Someday, perhaps! Yet I agree: our confidence must be in Him alone and we can have it fully since He saw fit to make us exactly as we are — His creation wasn’t complete without us or He wouldn’t have made us. Press on with the website!

    • Thank you, Kirsten. I’m not enjoying the learning curve, especially since this format doesn’t seem to be as flexible. But if it’s cleaner, then I’m IN with it. Hopefully I’ll be back to posting soon.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  27. Oh Susan, your light shines so bright I need to get some shades on just to sit here with you. When that thing tries to rise up in me I remind myself that I don’t know the price women like you or Ann had to pay to walk the path you walk.

    It’s so good to KNOW that before the foundations were formed He had a plan just for me, a good plan for me and for you. Grateful that we get to cheer eachother on as we run this race. I’m sad I missed you at Allume but thrilled you went and were filled. Sending you great big hugs!

    Praying for you always!

    • Diana, you’re precious and I’m so grateful for your friendship and your prayers. YES, we are definitely cheerleaders for each other. Consider yourself woohoo-ed and hugged :)


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