It's time. He's been whispering that in my ear for awhile now, but I push it away pretending that I don't hear. But here I am in the first week of February, and He is singing over me. He is reminding me that it is our anniversary...and that it is time. Every excuse I gave Him that day, He has met with an answer...with preparation...with grace.
The day was February 5, 2014. It was a Wednesday That morning started like any other morning had started for the past several months. I awoke more tired that when I had went to bed. I dreaded my day. I dreaded life. I had went to the doctor on Monday after school with extremely high blood pressure. I was put on bed rest the next day and told that I was headed for a stroke. If I still felt bad on Wednesday, I was to stay home from work. Knowing the pressures at my workplace and the demand for a doctor's note. my doctor made my excuse for both days in case I needed it, but clarified that it was only if I needed it. I felt like going that morning so I did, but only for about ten minutes before I was ordered to leave. I gathered my stuff and was ushered out the door being told that someone was coming in for me.
I cried all the way home. I don't know what my blood pressure was that morning, but I do know that I was having chest pains as I went upstairs to change and text to let my husband know the events of the morning. He told me to rest, but I cried for a couple of hours occasionally begging God to just let me have a stroke and die. Things were really hard at work, at home, and at church. Other than my kids and my grandmother, I really didn't see a reason to stick around and live life like that every day. I spent my whole existence wishing to be somewhere else...somebody else. I had given up my Sunday School class that I had taught over a decade and the role of organizer of our church's nativity. Those were my gifts to God, my worship, my ministry. I had been raised to believe that women were not made to lead and so therefore my role was to support my husband in his roles within the church, but now he no longer had roles...he no longer wanted roles. I wasn't sure where that left me. We were at a new church warming a pew. That wasn't who we were. At work I had just received my fourth write-up in less than six months. The conference of concern was scheduled for the next week and although I knew the policy numbers applied to my offense, I truly had no idea what I had done this time. Our marriage was in a rough place which comes with being uprooted from your church and facing new conditions at work and just life. I didn't have a place where I felt safe and my body was feeling it.
The chest pains were increasing as was my desperation. The thought of facing another day was more than I could handle. It hurt to breathe. And on top of all of it, I was failing God. It had been almost a year since The Dream. I didn't understand it at first and I had misread what it held for me, but I was starting to understand it. God had a plan for me still and it wasn't like anything I had known before. The days of holding a Lifeway quarterly with notes scribbled on the sides were over. He was asking for more. He was asking me for what I felt was impossible. He was asking me to write...to speak...and to lead women in ministry. I didn't know how to do that. I just used a teacher's edition of the quarterly to teach a small Sunday School class. I was afraid to speak in front of a group. But I had tried to walk in the direction I felt He was leading me to...at least a little. I had started a blog and enrolled in a writing course. I wasn't exactly being totally disobedient, but I couldn't understand why He was asking me to charter waters I had no knowledge of journeying. I didn't know how to publish a blog...how to write a book...how to speak to a group...how to organize a women's event...how to lead...how to do an online Bible study. How was I supposed to do these things that I knew nothing about?
The events of the morning...the pain of my chest...the feeling of failing God...I found myself so very desperate. I had felt desperation before this moment, but today was different. I just could not go on like this anymore. It was just me there with Him, and so I made my way to my bed and knelt on my knees. If you know me, you know that my knees haven't been strong since a wreck we had several years ago and to kneel can be excruciating within minutes.. But today it didn't matter how bad my knees hurt. My heart needed God to see me there pleading with Him for answers, for strength, and mostly for grace. I'm pretty sure all I did was cry. I don't remember any words for a really long time...just loud sobbing and a lot of tears. Finally I just asked Him to hear whatever the Holy Spirit spoke on my behalf and I went to my sitting room to sit down.
In less than thirty minutes, my phone rang with a Kentucky number. I wasn't going to answer it but something told me that I was supposed to and so I did. It was the husband of Christian author and speaker Liz Curtis Higgs. He had ran across my name and number from a question that I had asked earlier and felt that he was supposed to just give me a call. He spent almost the next hour educating me on the world of Christian speaking, organizing a women's event, how to publish, and women's ministry in general. He even told me that he felt he would hear my name again someday and to organize a couple of women's events and then give Liz a call. Absolutely nothing was different in my life. The problems were still there. The fear of the unknown still lurked beyond the corner where I couldn't see. But I was different because the God who I begged to help me understand how this was to be had asked a complete stranger to call my cell and give me an introduction to the world of Christian women's ministry. And not just any stranger but the husband of one of my favorite Christian speakers and authors. God wanted me to know that He was there...He would equip...and He heard my heart.
So here I am five years later in a very different situation. That very same week I would get an appointment to speak to someone and my situation at work would change. The thing that I thought would kill me was used to move me to a new job with new friends. Those new friends would lead me to a new church and one of those friends would invite me into a women's jail ministry alongside her. Five years later I have experienced training in how to write, how to speak, how to lead, and how to wait. I now understand more about blogging, have met with acquisition editors from major Christian publishing companies and have learned a great deal about publishing. I have learned about how to monetize a blog, create an online Bible study, organize women's events, and lead women in ministry opportunities. The girl who knelt sobbing by her bed has not been unnoticed by her God.
So as I approach this week, I feel the need to remove my shoes for the ground I walk on in my mind this week is holy. It is a Bethel of sorts. It is where I met with God. As I write this partial list of the training and experiences that He has allowed these last five years, I am in awe. To know that I know. To know that no matter what has happened or been said, regardless of what will happen or be said...I have been called and He is equipping me. I don't pretend to understand why and I don't really know how or when He will use it, but it is real. Just remembering the confusion and the pain of that day and now to realize what He has made come to pass...it is beyond words.
God, on this fifth anniversary...let it be said that Your grace is truly sufficient...Your power is truly made perfect in my weakness...and may the power of Your Son work through me to accomplish what it is that You would have me accomplish...whenever...wherever...anything. As long as You are with me...that's all I need.