17 years of meetings. Another conference in another city. Different topic, different speakers but overall the same. A few notes written, a few ideas stolen and then life returns to normal. Except this week. I wasn’t expecting much out of the conference. In fact, I didn’t even remember what the theme of this conference was. I just thought it would be a nice retreat with my family since this was one of the few all of us could attend. Little did I know I would be ambushed by something profound and meaningful.
It turns out that the theme for this conference was “Sifted”. It was a marriage retreat in disguise. From speakers to counselors and testimonies of peer couples, we were exposed to a time whose goal was to strengthen marriages. Even worse, the conference had built in accountability. We were given homework to do both individually and as a couple, and then in the next session we discussed our answers.
I then understood why they had counselors. We each had to (after a seminar on the 5 greatest needs in a man’s and a woman’s life) grade ourselves on how well we thought we were doing in each area. Then we graded our spouse on how well they were doing meeting our needs. Then the twist – we had to get alone with our spouse and reveal the answers to each other – needless to say they did not always agree! On the upside, I believe each of us left the conference having been open and honest, as well as beginning to work on issues that needed addressing.
If I had known in advance what the conference was really going to be about, I would not have gone. Too much pride, too much fear of vulnerability, too much worry about peer approval. Now I am glad I did go. My family will be better for it because I learned what I needed to change.
Now if only all conferences could be so meaningful…