On March 9 and 10, Jess Connolly, speaker and bestselling author of “Breaking Free from Body Shame,” visited Oklahoma Christian University in celebration of International Women’s Day. Events throughout Connolly’s visit included a Benchmark luncheon, book club Q&A session, Women’s Chapel, interactive dinner workshop and a keynote speech.
Student leaders of Oklahoma Christian Women Who Lead, a leadership and mentoring club, planned and hosted the events.
Connolly visited Oklahoma Christian in 2021 for a similar dinner workshop experience. Payton Duesing, the president of Women Who Lead, said after the success of the event last year, the organization knew they wanted to bring Connolly back.
“Having her speak last year was truly a breath of fresh air for not only myself, but I believe (for) everyone who had the opportunity to meet her,” Duesing said. “We chose her again this year because we wanted to hear more of her heart, and she came out with this new body shame book last summer, so it was perfect timing in our planning process.”
Connolly’s book explores self-image as a spiritual issue, discussing what it means for women to see themselves as made in the image of God. Micah Burke, the community outreach coordinator for Women Who Lead, asked Connolly what prompted her to write about this topic.
Connolly said when she was challenged to buy and read all the Christian books about body image, she found only three.
“She immediately knew this had to be the right topic because of the significant lack of resources, books, and discussion on the topic,” Burke said. “It is important to bring her to campus to initiate the conversation and break down the wall of shame we are hiding behind. We all have insecurities and it is such a powerful thing when we decide to get vulnerable with each other and talk about hard things.”
Over winter break, Women Who Lead hosted a book club in which members read “Breaking Free from Body Shame” in preparation for the events. On March 9, book club members met for a special session with Connolly to ask questions about the book.
“This was a special time we were able to dive into her book, learning about her reason for writing it and how she continues to convey the message that our bodies are good because God said they are good,” Duesing said.
Women Who Lead invited Connolly to campus in celebration of International Women’s Day. Burke said Women’s History Month is special to her because it serves as a time to highlight the way God uses women to expand his kingdom.
“He designed us all so uniquely and it is incredibly powerful when you create an
environment and time for people to share and highlight the lives of women,” Burke said.
During the dinner workshop in the new Meinders Conference Center, Connolly coached attendees on three topics: comparison, dealing with difficult seasons of life and being expectant of God’s plans. She asked attendees questions about each topic, allowing them to self-reflect before a few volunteers shared their answers.
“I trust God in you to keep giving you insight into what’s next for you,” Connolly said during the workshop.
Following the workshop, attendees moved to Judd Auditorium for the keynote. During her lecture, Connolly focused on the principles of her book as she taught about how to have a “kingdom body mindset.”
“We need the power of a good and loving father who literally created and named us. We need the blood of Jesus to break free from the chains of brokenness and shame,” Connolly said. “We need Jesus. Body positivity is God’s idea. Kingdom body mindset is what you were made for.”
Learn more about Connolly and her book “Breaking Free from Body Shame” here.