I'm so excited to share this conversation with my new friend, Willow Weston, who leads the ministry We Collide. She's an amazing speaker and writer and you're going to enjoy hearing her share her story. Be sure to check out their podcast as well called the We Collide Podcast! I was a guest on the show last week and it was reposted as a bonus episode on the Do The Thing Movement podcast this week - make sure to check it out!
If you'd like access to the full transcript of the episode, scroll down! Please keep in mind that the transcript is unedited for grammatical errors; however, if you prefer to take in content in a written format, it's there for you!
Okay, Willow. I am so excited today to have you share your story with listeners and just to chat about finding healing in our pain. So you say that after being in ministry for many years, God really met you in a counseling appointment that you had, and you began to find healing for a lot of wounds that you didn't even realize were there.
So could you tell listeners about this story and kind of how God met you in that. Oh man. Yeah. Super long story. I'll try to keep it short. But I met Jesus when I was 21 years old, had a radical kind of conversion experience wasn't raised in the church, wanted nothing to do with God and was super broken and found him when I was 21 years old.
Jumped right into ministry, became a youth leader at a local church. Then I was a pastoral intern. Then I went into ministry and, uh, experienced a lot of healing. Then I got pregnant with my first kiddo and decided to stay at home with him and invest in him. And it was in that time of sort of, uh, investing in him, being home all day, leaving my vocational ministry job that I like to say hurt, knocked on my door.
And I went to look out the people and saw this person who had hurt me when I was a kid. And I couldn't open the door. I couldn't bring myself to let them in. And I ran upstairs and I hid in a closet with my baby, and it was this really intense moment where I felt like the Lord opened up the closet door and came in and sat with me in a sense, and really invited me into further healing.
And said, you know, you need to step out of this closet and you need to get healing for your wounds because you're reverting back to who you were as a kid. And this person isn't hurting you, but you're expecting to be hurt. And so you need, you need to go get help. And I stepped out of that closet and called a Christian counselor and ended up in this.
Room with this Christian counselor who was very sort of atypical Christian counselor. What brings you in today? And I am kind of sassy. So I was like, Oh, you know, I'm hiding closets with my baby, no big deal. Um, but really explained that this was a trigger for me. And clearly there's work that needs to be done in my life.
And she proceeded to kind of do the whole will. You need to tell this person, you can only spend 30 minutes a week with them. And something sort of came over the room. I describe it as the counselor stepped into the room and I yelled at this counselor lady and that's not really like me, but I just, I just said, no, that is not what I need to do.
And I started. Sobbing. And I started sort of seeing everything differently and I started hurting for me and I started hurting for you. And I had this sort of apifany where I realized no, I was born into wounds. I collided with wounds. My mother was wounded and, um, Sure her wounds wounded. Me and my father was wounded in his wounds, wounded me, and now I'm going to owned by a baby and this is just going to carry on and on.
And you're wounded and I'm wounded and we bump into each other and we collide and what God wants to happen in relationship between people isn't happening instead of us bringing about more wholeness and hope and light and love or hurting each other. And so I had this. Super huge. Um, Tiffany, I gave this counselor 85 bucks.
I walked out to my car and I felt like the Lord said you're going to do something with those two words, wounded collision. So to answer your question, uh, that was the beginning of. A huge healing journey for me to allow Jesus, to collide with my wounds and bring about healing so that I could then collide with the people who've hurt me and bring about healing rather than more brokenness.
And that actually sort of started in launched and burned this entire ministry that I now have founded in direct. Yeah, that's so awesome that God used that season in your life just to bring about something so awesome. I love, I love when he does that and you know, I think there might be a listener who.
You know, maybe has stuffed their, their pain or their wounds. Like you speak of kind of over and over again, or maybe not even realized that they're doing so maybe they haven't had that moment with the Lord I'm like you had yet. So what happens when we stuff our pain rather than really allowing God to meet us in that and begin to do that healing work that only he can do.
Man, you know, I've so much to say about this topic, but I think there's this sense where when we don't allow God to meet us in our pain and meet us in our brokenness, it just gets worse and worse and worse. Um, it's almost like our, our pain breeds more pain, right? If we don't stop the bleeding, we can hemorrhage.
If we don't deal with going toxic. You know, we could die in the same way that it works for our physical bodies. It too works for our hearts and our minds. And I think in Christian culture, the church, and I love the church and some churches are doing a great job, but when I speak of the church, capital C church or Christianity in a lot of ways, we have a.
Invited people to hide their brokenness. And we haven't given people a permission slip to kind of name their pain, recognize their brokenness and invite Jesus into that place and heal them. And sometimes healing takes a long time. I was speaking at a retreat. Uh, I think sometime last year and this beautiful young girl kept walking up to me and she, she was crying and she kept saying, why am I crying?
And this went on for an entire weekend, long retreat where she, she couldn't figure out why she was crying. And she said, this thing that happened to her 10 years ago still keeps creeping up on her. And she thought she was done with it. And. She feels like she must not be close to God if she's still crying and she's still mourning and you get kind of tiptoeing around what it was that she was crying about.
And I finally just sat down with her and said, what happened 10 years ago? And she basically described this experience where she was dating this guy. She was a new Christian. She had just given her life to Jesus. He was not a Christian. And she felt like God was calling her on a different path. And she felt like she was supposed to break up with this, this guy.
And she did, and he committed suicide. And. 10 years later, she's still crying about it. And it's because she told me that even at his funeral, there were people just, just kind of telling her like, move on. You're fine. This isn't your fault. Um, we sort of, I think in Christian culture, want to fast forward brokenness to get to wholeness, but you cannot do that.
You can't fast forward your pain. You have to allow God to meet you in it. You have to allow God to sit there. You have to grieve grieving in the very definition of the word grieving means to recognize a loss. So you have to see what you've lost, what you've lost. You have to be the girl who's hiding in the closet and recognize that's an invitation from God to step out of the closet and get healing.
So when you talk about your listeners, So many of us have been through a that we never should have gone through. We've experienced things that we were never intended to experience and we've been hurt and we've been betrayed and we've been abused and we've been looked over and, you know, unvalued and.
We're being asked to kind of move on, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, pray over it, trust that because we say we're believers, we're fine. And we're not fine. Yeah. So, you know, another story I think of, I was preaching down in Seattle several years ago and went into the bathroom before, before I had to speak.
And there were three ladies standing in the bathroom and they were kind of awkward and I said, Oh, Hey, are you guys waiting in line? And they kind of looked at me like, that's such a stupid question. Can I use the stall? And I go in and I pee and all of a sudden they get in this conversation. I think they forgot I was in the bathroom.
And the one woman who turns out to be the mom and the scenario of the teenager that stood there, said to her friend, this other adult woman, do you know why we brought you in here? And. The other adult woman said it was quiet for a second. And then she said, Oh, how far along is she? And the mother said would just utter disdain and discuss she's three months along or something like that.
And they basically rammed this teenager because she was pregnant and went off on her and then they left the room and went out to hear the preacher preach. And I pulled my Spanx up. And, you know, got out of the stall. And I went out and preached a sermon about Mary, a teenage Virgin, carrying our Lord and just preached my heart out.
The point of why I tell that story is, is I think in a lot of ways, we're not okay. But we don't have permission to say, I'm not okay. We're not giving each other permission to say I'm not okay. And that teenager, I can guarantee you the next time someone corners her and these Christian women ask her how she's doing.
She's not going to invite them into her life because she basically was cornered in a bathroom and made to feel terrible. Not one time. Did they say, how are you doing? Are you worried? Are you. Fearful are you burdened? How can we walk alongside you in this we're we're with you? They just shamed. Laughter.
Yeah. And then walked out to be like hallelujah, amen to the preacher. And I think we have got to figure out as Christians, how can we be a people who come alongside each other in the same way that Jesus did? How do we invite our teenagers and our spouses and our neighbors and our friends to be able to say, I'm not okay, I'm hurting, I'm bleeding.
I blew it. I'm scared. I've been abused, whatever it is, how can we do that? We have to give each other permission, slips, be broken and hurt and it's then that Jesus can come in and do his greatest work in our lives. Yeah, man, I have so many thoughts about all of this. That story breaks my heart one, because I've also been a part of scenarios where I've seen someone.
Have a conversation that then created a narrative for someone that is, is kind of hard to, it's hard to break that feedback loop, right? She's going to remember those comments and that conversation with her mom and how her mom acted and the look in her mom's eye, all those things matter, you know? And, and I think, you know, we would all be able to probably think of a time where.
You know, a situation like that happened, you know, maybe it wasn't a teenage pregnancy, but maybe it was something else in our life that maybe even shaped kind of the way we see some of our pain. And I love that God's really given you a heart to not only give people that permission slip to work through their pain, but also.
Calling out the fact that our job ultimately is to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself and loving our neighbor well, and our people well, and our team home team, well often may look like walking alongside somebody and just sitting next to them and their brokenness and asking, how can I pray for you?
How can I walk alongside you? Um, That's a beautiful, that's a beautiful thing, but I think so often we miss those moments. And so that's definitely even a challenge to me and today, and I hope it is still listeners as well. And kind of on that note, you describe a season where you walked alongside some college women in a small group setting, which I love, I love discipling college girls, and you have the opportunity to lead them in a study about Jesus colliding with people in the new Testament.
I would love for you to talk to us about kind of what God did through that study. Yeah. Well, I had walked out of that counseling office and the Lord said, you're going to do something with those two words. I had no idea what he meant. And sometime right after that, a young college aged girl from church called and asked me if I would mentor her.
And clearly I wasn't feeling too much like the mentoring type when I was this like, 37 year old mom hiding in closets. So I asked her, you know, what are you looking for? Because people's definition of mentoring is so different. I'm like, do you want to come and watch me, you know, make a mean artichoke chicken, and talk to me about your life.
Do you want me to pray for you? Do you want to study the Bible? I said, I just have this huge epiphany about Jesus and how, when Jesus collides with people who are broken, he brings about wholeness rather than brokenness, and we're all wounded and bumping her. Around and colliding with each other and mooning each other, and we're in need of a new kind of collision.
I said, do you want to get together and look at Jesus in the new Testament and how he collides with broken people and what happens when he does? And so Brittany said, sure. And I'm like, cool. And then she called me that week and said, can I bring a few friends? And I said, sure, I've been in college ministry.
So I was down with hanging out with college girls. And so I made a poundcake and some lemonade and. You know, got a knock on my door, went to the door and there were 25 girls lined up to come through the front door of the house. And so then, you know, I'm scrambling for extra snacks and pulling out stale Cheerios and stuff.
And that was the beginning of these young women coming into my living room. Uh, on a regular basis and colliding with Jesus. And when we watched Jesus collide with the century who didn't feel worthy, God started healing these girls, his self esteem. And when we saw him. Stand in the presence of the woman caught in adultery when everyone else wanted to condemn her and he set her free, we saw him set free.
Uh, you know, there was a girl in our, in our myths too. Had been sexually abused by her father and it was their little secret and that's how she knew and experienced love. And we saw Jesus collide with that pain again, to heal it. And she now lives in such freedom and there were so many different collisions where we watched Jesus heal a broken person in the new Testament.
And as we did, he began to heal us. And that was a really. Beautiful season where I got to walk alongside these college age girls. And then I live in a college town. So most people leave and move back home to their families or get jobs and travel. And so most of those girls graduated and moved on and there were four left.
And they wanted to keep meeting. And by that time I had gone back to my college ministry job, dropped off my youngest set kindergarten and had done the stay at home mom thing for eight years. And so went back to my, my love and passion of college ministry to walk alongside these girls. And they wanted to keep meeting and I prayed about it and felt like the Lord said, no, I'm not into us four and no more fully huddle Bible studies.
These girls have been colliding with me for years now. It's time they teach the message to other women. And so I went back to these four girls and said, what do you think? Are you up for an experiment? And they said, yes. And that was the beginning of our first collide, where we, uh, looked at Jesus colliding with someone in the new Testament.
And then we asked the question, how do we teach this to other women? And then we put on an event where we. Other women. So that's a little description of what that sweet time was like with those college age girls. I love that. I love that. So what would you say to a listener who is afraid to bring their brokenness to the cross?
And maybe even somebody who would maybe they wouldn't say these words, but really they're saying, I just don't know that I want to go there. How would you encourage them, man? Of course, you don't want to go there because it's hard and sometimes you have to hurt all over again. So I feel, I feel compassion for you.
I'm right there with you. I often don't want to go backwards, but we have to go backwards to go forward. Um, it is impossible for you to move on and act as though it didn't happen. It did happen and you can sweep it under the rug, but after a while, your rug just gets, it stops looking like a rug. And you can pretend that there's not an elephant in the room, but there's a giant elephant in the room of your life.
And in the same way that I could have stayed sitting in that closet and let my fear. And my pain continue to wound my life and wound my kids' lives. Uh, I could have stayed there. It takes bravery and it takes courage. And I recognize that in a lot of ways, inviting God into our pain, it starts by naming what hurt you.
And sometimes that's really hard to do alone. And so I'm a huge proponent. We have a. Uh, counseling program at collide, where we actually help women find counseling. We often pay for women to find counseling, but wherever you're at, wherever you live, if you are recognizing that you have some dealt with pain, some brokenness usually, you know, you do cause it's bleeding out sideways.
Um, it's coming out in your marriage. It's coming out in your friendships. It's coming out in work. It's coming out in your insecurities. And those are invitations. I see those as invitations from God. And sometimes your first step is actually to call a counselor and a counselor is just someone that it's almost like giving yourself the gift of an hour every week.
Was set aside space to take care of you and counselors ask really great questions to draw out the deep and yes, it's soul working. Yes. It's hard. Yes. You have to go backwards and sometimes you have to feel that pain, but you can't go forward until you get healing for, for what happened. And then you can move on.
I think in a lot of ways, uh, we just move on, but Jesus, doesn't do that. When you look at Jesus and the life of Jesus in the new Testament, you see him colliding with people. He enters their pain, he enters their darkness. He enters, uh, their confusion. He enters, um, their, their wounds. And so Jesus, isn't running from our pain.
He's not trying to get out of Dodge. Yeah, we are. And he doesn't run from working cause he knows that he has to stand there in it and he has to help us see it and feel it and claim it and name it. And then he can start sewing us back up and stitching us back up and mending what hurts, but running from your pain only creates more pain.
So if you were to share one. Maybe passage of scripture to encourage listeners. What, where would you point women in leadership back to as they kind of walk through this process of healing, similar to what you did? Yeah. You know, I, I think about the way God works and I think about Isaiah 53 and the Bible says by his wounds, we are healed.
It is actually, our healing is actually realized through the wounds of Jesus Christ. And so we think we can fast forward and get to wholeness without entering into our own brokenness. But Jesus says, no, actually it's even by my own brokenness that I bring you healing. So Jesus shows up in our brokenness.
But he also uses us there in the same way that he was used. In his brokenness. The reason why we can, as Christians say we're saved and we're rescued was actually because Jesus chose to enter into brokenness. And so my biggest kind of shout from the rooftops is friends. If you have brokenness, do not run from your brokenness, LL the Lord who stepped into brokenness, bringing about your healing.
Yeah. Yeah. So what would you share with listeners that you think is the best piece of advice that you've ever been given? Oh, my goodness gracious. The best piece of advice I've ever been given in relationship to what we've been talking about today. Uh, I think about the idea that you can't take people where you yourself haven't.
Yeah. And I think there's a lot of us who have huge dreams for our lives that we want to do big things. We want to impact the world. We want to have influence over our families and our friends and our community, and we can't help other people. If we first haven't gotten help, we can't bring healing to other people.
If we first haven't received healing. And so I think one of my biggest, um, pieces of advice is you have to allow yourself to go to those hard places so that you can help other people go there too. You can't have an impact on people if you're not willing to first allow God to have an impact on you. You know, I think about a story where our ministry, we put on these conferences for women.
And it started as that experiment. Like I talked about where 50 college students came and now we have, you know, a thousand at a time and we have a mentoring ministry in it, counseling ministry and in leadership development ministry and week. Published Bible study books and all of this amazing stuff that God's done, but he's done it all out of brokenness.
He created all of this impact, not out of my put togetherness, not out of my awesomeness and not really that cool. Um, it was all out of God taking pain and doing something beautiful in it. And I think that's what God wants to do with all of our lives. God wants to take our pain and the mess and the struggle, and he wants to do something beautiful and amazing with it.
But we have to allow him to meet us there. One of the most encouraging experiences. That I had is this several years ago. Uh, I didn't even know collide would become a thing, but I was just following hard after him, after the whole thing. I'm stepping out in the counseling office and then mentoring the college girls.
And we did this experiment and started a ministry, started growing and. At the end of one of our events, I was cleaning out the pews and picking up garbage and this little older lady kind of scurry through the pews and she stopped and I was waiting for her to talk. She came over to me and she was saying nothing.
And I was like, Oh Lord, is this the most awkward? Like, is she socially awkward? Is she new? What's going on? Since I've prayed. I'm like, Lord, help me out with this one. And this woman, you could tell she was grieving from like her guts. And she finally started sharing and, and she said, you know, I used to belong to the church.
I used to be so involved in the church and. My husband and I raised our kids in the church and then my husband died. And then my son went into the military and my son killed himself and the church couldn't even handle it. They couldn't talk about it. They either couldn't talk about it. Or they told me that he was going to hell.
So I left the church and this was decades before this conversation. And she said, and then her other child attempted suicide. And she looked at me and she said, I told myself, that's fine. I buried my husband. I buried my son. I'll bury my daughter. And she said that to me, just straight face, like, it's fine.
And then she just lost it in front of me. And she said, Can you believe that? I told myself it's fine. That if my daughter dies, that it's fine. She said I was made to believe that I just had to like move on and tell myself it's fine. She said today, you gave me permission to believe in a God who can handle my pain, who can handle my brokenness.
And, and she just wept. Yeah. And then after our conversation at the end of our conversation, she said today marks the first day of me coming back into the doors, that search. And that was really like, that was a pivotal moment in my life. I was able to have this sort of interaction and experience with this woman.
Not because there's anything really great about me, but because for some reason, God chose to use my pain and my story and my brokenness to help. Other people in there. And I think for the people listening today, your brokenness doesn't define you, you being open about what you've gone through. You allowing God to meet you in your mess and your mistakes.
None of that's going to keep you held back. If anything, God's going to use that too. Feel you to compel you to, uh, propel you to do amazing things in this world so you can impact and help other hurting people. God can use your story. God can use your pain. Um, that has been an advice that he, he has not only told me, but he's shown me it's possible.
And that'd be my greatest encouragement to your listeners is that he wants to use all of you, all of your story, all of your experience to do amazing things in this world. I love that and I love how he's using yours. So I so appreciate you just sharing. So vulnerably with us today, this is going to be such an important conversation.
I'm really excited for people to listen. And so Willow tell listeners how they can keep in touch with you and see your ministry and everything that God is using you to do for the kingdom. Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for having me on super fun to have a chat. And I know that I have you on our podcast and I loved it.
I love what you're doing, and I love that you have followed God and taken steps and watched him unfold the story of your life in such a beautiful way. And you keep doing that in your fighting. Others come along with you. Super cool. So, uh, yeah, people can find me. I'm. On social, I'm on the instep Willow at WC, and I'm on Facebook, Willow Weston.
And then you can find the ministry that I founded called collide, where we collide.net. So you can check out our website and I'd love to walk alongside you and see what the Lord can do in your life. So yeah, come find me. I love it and definitely check out their podcast. It is wonderful. And, um, and yeah, I, I'm not sure when my episode really says, but we have another conversation coming out, so that'll be fun for everybody to listen to.
So well, will thank you so much for being my guest today. Yeah, it was fun. Thank you, Rebecca.