room full of women at tables with white chairs

It’s Time to Get Audacious

Since Collide began a lot has changed. I walked out of a counseling office to deal with my pain and now we have a counseling program to help other people in theirs. I mentored one young woman and now we have a mentoring program connecting young and old to co-learn in faith in beautiful life changing ways. I started a bible study in my living room with 20 college-aged girls and now we just released our first bible study that is traveling to women wherever they are. In the last week we already have two women studying in New York City, a group of teens from a youth group in Puyallup, a hard working single mom in our office, and a few hundred others who are colliding with Jesus through the “Yes, You” study.

Our first event ever was a potluck for 50 young women and this year we had an event with 950 women. We once were an experiment at one church, and now we are a 501c3 nonprofit ministering to women outside the church and women from many churches, exemplifying the power that can come from unity of gathering together instead of building walls and boxes leaving each other out. We once housed all things Collide in my family’s basement and now we have a wonderful office that has become a place for much more than storage- it’s an address where women can come to be ministered to and minister to others. We once had no staff and now we have an amazing staff who give all they have to accomplish our mission.

Just a few years ago, no one knew what Collide was and now we are getting calls from other cities inquiring as to how Collide can come to them. We began with a team of four women who said yes to being used by God and now we have a few hundred women a year serving this mission in the hopes that others might run into Jesus and be transformed. A lot has morphed and grown throughout the Collide story, but one thing has remained a constant: when women collide with Jesus, their lives are changed. We see it over and over again.

A college aged student with an eating disorder stepped into our counseling program this year and is unlayering the deeper roots of her self image struggles. A young aspiring girl is finding Collide as a place to formulate and test her dreams of preaching. A young woman who was suicidal found the will to live through our ministry. An aspiring young leader who was burned by her experience in ministry found a place to heal in the counseling program so she could walk out more whole and still holding onto faith in Christ, despite pain from Christians. A woman who in her own words said her marriage is failing began coming to Collide and shared with me that she bought her first Bible, has started reading it and coming to our Next Step classes, and has begun volunteering- her life is changing before her own eyes. A local family dealing with a mental health crisis has received help, grace, support, and counseling resources which have been a lifeline when everything else has felt like death. A woman who loves Jesus with a passion, who was once told she was too old to be on stage leading worship, has found a place to use her gifts in our ministry that values gathering generations of woman because we know the power that comes out of it when we do. Like the brave woman who publicly shared for the first time about having AIDS at the last Collide event, women are finding a space to be authentic and share their stories as they really are. Collide is telling women God can handle their pain and their mess… and when they begin to believe that, everything changes.

A Changemaker is a person who allows God to use their life to bring about transformation, conversion, renewal, impact, hope, freedom and rescue to another person’s life.

When I think about the life change we have seen over the last few years, I think of the army of women Changemakers God has used collectively to impact lives. I often get overwhelmed by the collective of gifts, resources, networks, ideas, brains, talents, backgrounds, personalities, and offerings of all the women God has used together to create this force for change.

I think about a woman who saw our need to equip mentors and said, “I can teach into them” and teach into them she did. This gave women interested in mentoring the bravery and tools they needed to say yes to meeting in impactful relationships all over the county. I think about a counselor in town who taught next step classes with her gifts to tackle things like Baggage in Relationships so that woman could be set free. I think about the business woman in town who generously gives out of her family’s earnings to help Collide so we can keep saying yes to women getting counseling. I think of the young mom who now lives in San Francisco, CA but fondly remembers how much her life was impacted by Collide. So when she heard we had no printer, she bought us one, and when she heard we had no iPad for events, she sent us one. I think of the bank teller who when we first became a nonprofit, said “Yes I will learn how to do QuickBooks.”

I think of the woman who had given years of her life to serve another nonprofit in town and she now gives her time to advise us how best to operate. I think of the artist who offered to do one invite, that turned into her creating the Collide logo, that turned into her doing live art, that turned into her designing the new bible study- all to create the beauty that Collide has become known for, which now has inspired other artists to use their talent to do the same. I think of the woman who has said yes, again and again, to making coconut cakes, chocolate balls, punch, cheese dip, wraps, rolls and lunch for thousands of women.

Behind every story of life change, there is a Changemaker. People who have no hope don’t just wake up one day with hope. People who want to end their life don’t just miraculously start wanting to live again. People who have been burned by the church and now want nothing to do with Jesus don’t just wake up on your ordinary Thursday and start liking Him again. People who have been sexually victimized don’t just get over it without walking a long arduous spiritual journey towards healing. Women who hate their bodies don’t just walk by a mirror after years of self destruction and self debasement and all of a sudden see their beauty. Families that are falling apart because of unfaithfulness to God and each other don’t just find their way back without a catalyst. Women who lack purpose don’t just find it at the mall. Life change happens because God intervenes, God shows up, and God collides. And how does God collide and bring about change? He uses us.

God uses us to bring hope. He uses us to beg people to step off ledges. He uses us to heal people who have been hurt by hurtful religion. He uses us to invite women who have been traumatized to walk toward the help they need. He uses us to point women toward the truth of their beauty. He uses us to help put families back together again. He uses us to inspire women to live out their dreams. Our lives can be used as a force to bring about change in the world. In fact, not only is it possible, I would argue it’s what we were made for.

From the very beginning of this Collide story, when I walked out of a counseling office in great pain having every reason to believe He couldn’t use the likes of me, for years now I continue to be blown away by this one thing: God changes lives using people who are audacious enough to believe that He can.

The definition of the word audacious is: showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.

When you are audacious enough to believe that God can use you to change the world, to change your family, to change your neighbors, to change your school, to change women’s lives, you by faith are willing to take bold risks. Collide is a bold risk. It always has been. I could have been seen as the biggest fool to try and lead 20-some college aged girls standing in the middle of my muck and wounds. We could have fell flat on our faces by taking 4 women and attempting to proclaim the message that changed our lives to a bigger audience. Becoming a nonprofit was a bold risk, to think we could make it on our own without a church holding us up.

Yet here we are, still trucking- in fact more than trucking, we are on a fast moving train! Starting a counseling program and saying to our hurting city: we will pay for women who need help to get counseling. That was a bold risk, but that risk has been way more reward. Publishing our own Bible studies and hoping they travel, saying “Hey world, we think we have something that will bless you, inspire you and change you. Yes you and Yes Us.” That’s a bold risk. Collide in and of itself was birthed out of audacity.

How can God use pain? That’s audacious! How can God use messy stories? That’s audacious! How can God use broken women, young and old, across the spectrum of experiences, faith backgrounds and denominations to impact others? That’s audacious. How could God use women? Apparently that’s audacious too.  

Anything big or amazing you ever dream to do will require an audacious faith that begs you to boldly risk.

You can play it safe. You can continue to settle. You can doubt yourself. You can swim in the shallow end. You can stay apathetic. You can second guess yourself. You can stay stuck in your insecurities. You can spend your life wallowing in your past mistakes. You can hold onto all you’ve worked for. You can make your dreams small. You can store up all your resources for yourself. You can hold onto what you’ve got  “just in case.” You can question your abilities. You can believe the “Not me’s.” You can make impossibilities bigger than your God, who can make all things possible.

OR… you can risk boldly with your life, your dreams, your vision, your gifts, your prayer, your resources, your time, your commitments, and your finances…If you choose with your whole life to audaciously believe that God could actually use you to change the world, you will change the world.

I am choosing to audaciously believe. Will you join in me in being audacious enough to actually believe that God can use us to make an impact in this world? Collide has an audacious story and an audacious vision and we need an army of audacious people to accomplish it. (We’d love for you to  give, serve or pray towards our audacious vision.) No matter where you are, what you have been called to do, no matter what weaknesses you have or what obstacles you have to push past, my hope is that you will outrageously believe and boldly lean into the crazy audacious idea that God could use, even you, to do amazing things that impact our world.

Let’s get audacious! -Willow

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  • Deb Visser says:

    Willow is coming to my home church this Sunday, June 10th in Bellingham, WA @ Cornwall Church. I’ve never heard her before but a friend of mine on my greet team shared how amazing her story was and am so excited to hear her story. After reading her blog, I find myself with tears streaming down my face. I’ve been thru some messy things in my life and even tho I just never quite know how things are going to work out…I always know that God has my hand, my heart and my life, no matter the outcome. My relentless faith in Him is the only thing that holds me together sometimes. I am so excited to read about this program of “We Collide” right here in Bellingham. (I live in Lynden). I believe with great conviction that sometimes God uses our own pain and brokedness in life to be a help for others. It gives us compassion, understanding, knowledge, to have walked in the same shoes & God gives us our strength, He is our fortress, holding our hand thru every trial, every tribulation, every success….each moment of our life. He. Is.
    Thank you Willow for sharing your life and incrediable journey to this place. We all need Hope….we all need Him.

  • Willow Weston says:

    Deb thanks for sharing from your heart. It’s true, we all need hope:) Come say hi when I’m speaking at Cornwall! I’d love to meet you!