The first Be You Bravely, a faith-based event designed to help teenage girls face the challenges of their teenage years with confidence and grace, was a success, both in the number of students who signed up and the comments from the attendees, as well as their parents.
Nearly 40 young ladies from grades 8-12 attended the event at Revolution Church on Nov. 3. A group of women from a few area churches worked together to organize the event, which included presentations by three speakers: Bethany Clemenson, Becky Geerdes and Aimee Redlinger, along with music by Rachel Henkle. The three spoke about relationships, forgiveness and finding faith and confidence for daily life.
“Be You Bravely” is a reference to the Biblical verse Joshua 1:9, in which God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.”
The three speakers spoke about their own memories of their teenage years, including their mistakes and times when they had to forgive others. They also shared some stories from their adult years. Aimee Redlinger shared some of her thoughts about forgiveness following the death of her daughter, Emma, who would be a senior this year. Bethany Clemenson told the girls that everyone has some kind of “crazy,” but that some people are better at “tucking it in,” or hiding it, than others.
Becky Geerdes shared some of her memories of conflicts and devastating false accusations she endured while in high school, but contrasted her difficult days with the cross of Christ.
“Do you really think you’ve been hurt, bullied, neglected or abused more than Jesus was on the cross? I have never felt that kind of pain. Therefore I choose to live in restored relationships. It is my hope and prayer that you do the same. I once heard a wise woman say, ‘Forgiving someone doesn’t make them right; it just sets you free.'”
Geerdes went on to say: “In relationships we all have individual roles – We all have different skills, interests, and talents. We need to encourage one another in our various gifts instead of struggling with one another because of our differences.”
“My favorite part was listening to the speakers talk about forgiveness and how important it is because I’m someone that holds strong grudges and it really touched me,” said one of the high school students who attended the event.
“We signed the girls up and told them they were going,” says one local parent. “They were a little apprehensive wondering what it would be like. I think they learned from it. They enjoyed the different speakers and activities.”
The teens recalled hearing how they can turn to God and also to other people, and that positive thoughts about yourself can empower you.
The organizers also made a video set to the song “Dear Younger Me,” in which they shared some things they wish they would have heard when they were teens.
Many parents said their daughter had a great time and had a lot of good things to say about the event and the words they had heard. The group’s Facebook page also received many positive comments from parents of participants.
The event included lunch, snacks and door prizes donated by local businesses and individuals.
The women involved in organizing Be You Bravely say it inspired them as much as it did their audience.
“God is doing amazing things in our communitym” said Heidi Primros. “Being a part of the planning committee was a blessing as I continue my own journey in my faith and then to see young girls react to the speakers, musicians, and each other was touching and inspiring. I’m hoping the girls who attended were each touched in a meaningful way that will impact their lives and the choices they make. Can’t wait for more events like this in the future.”
“I think my favorite part of the day was seeing all the girls laughing, bonding and growing. It warmed my heart to see the room so full of young women who want to be the best version of themselves and help to lift others as well,” says Kimberly Johnson, one of the ladies who helped organize the event.
“One of my favorite things about the Be You Bravely conference was seeing the girls take off their ‘masks and capes’ and just be themselves,” says Melissa Smith. “Engaging with each other, with the table leaders, and just being in the moment was such an amazing site and just what we were hoping for. I love that the girls could hear from others both the speakers and from their peers that they aren’t the only ones going through struggles, but to understand they are never along. Hearing again and again during this day that God is there with them every step of the way was a great way to leave this conference having a little bit more confidence on their shoulders as they be brave out in this crazy world.”
The organizers will meet on Tuesday to review this year’s event as well to begin planning for the next event. The turnout was so great for the first event that they may have to find a large venue for the next one.