Continued from When God Calls Your Bluff – part 2…
When you approach someone in tears it’s…how should I say this…awkward! Yet I truly believe that turning around and walking away would’ve been far worse. I managed to mumble the words “Hi. I wrote you an email earlier this week and Shaun Groves said that you’d know how to pray for me.”
Honestly, ladies, I’m a horrible public speaker but I can certainly present myself a little better than this one-on-one.
I. felt. ridiculous.
But Christ faced ridicule on the cross and I know that if we are to share in His glory we will also be sharing in His suffering whether we really want to or not.
In this case, I didn’t have to suffer long. She was gracious and already had a pretty good idea of who I was and offered to speak with me in private. (No doubt she was thinking “Oh, so you’re that crazy chic who wrote me that long-winded email!”)
There’s just something remarkable that comes with hearing someone’s obedience directly from their lips. We read books and blogs and type out our best oohs and ahhs in our reviews and responses, but nothing…nothing compares to hearing someone speak their story and being able to shed tears and nod our heads in empathetic agreement.
And there is something even more compelling about watching them relive their struggle of obedience across an expressionistic face as they work their way toward the finish line of this story, confirming that their choice to trust and believe God at his word was the BEST choice.
I had more clarity in the next 30 minutes than I’d had in the last year. And here was someone who didn’t think I was pulling tricks out of my hat to get attention. I was miserable. And I knew that she knew I was miserable because she’s lived it.
Some of the best advice I received from Kristen was to listen to my convictions closely. She told me that God stirring my heart could very well be in response to someone else’s prayer. “You could be someone’s answered prayer. Don’t lose sight of that.” Those words have as much of an impact now as they did on the day she spoke them.
But I can’t help but think, “Lord, I’m right in the middle of my mess. I’m a wife with four children. I help my husband run a business while working another job. I creatively carve out more time in my day at the gracious flexibility my employer offers to invest in my children as much as I possibly can. I pack lunches and do mountains of laundry and then I wrestle full carts of groceries around the store (while foolishly wearing flip flops) as I try to come up with new ideas for what to feed my family when all I really want to do is order pizza 7 days a week. I sign papers and retrieve lost things for the forgetful children in my home. I get up several nights a week with a little boy who has frequent nightmares and wets the bed…”
And…I do the bills. (y’all…I hate all things numbers and math.)
It’s a time-consuming, seldom perfect, sometimes struggling, yet often highly enjoyable, never-ending phase of life right now that requires every last drop of me.
But somehow He’s opening up areas I didn’t know were there. And He’s putting change on my heart along with the desire to submit to those changes. He’s helping me let go of the pride. That pride where I honestly have to stop and think “this hurt my heart yesterday to give up. Why am I not hurting now?”
And then, you know what I do? I try to hurt again. I look for the pride to stop me. Why? Because it’s familiar. And not feeling the hurt is a little bit of a scary void for me. I’m supposed to play it safe, right? I’m supposed to hang on to the things I feel entitled to. That’s who I am!
Yet… it’s peace. And as unfamiliar as that might be at first, I like peace.
Empathy runs thick in my veins and, while this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone’s plight calls me to be sympathetic, it does mean that I can feel the emotions of those around me unlike anything else.
But the busyness of this life began to erect a fence that prevented me from reaching out past myself to grab another hand to hold.
I got tunnel vision, walking the same path to water each and every day just like my neighbor’s cattle to the pond.
It became more about throwing money at the cause instead of offering a physical hand. And that’s great, don’t misunderstand my statement and say that this world doesn’t need people opening their pocketbooks to share their blessings with others. But it’s become such a norm for me that I don’t know what the term “getting my hands dirty” should even look like anymore.
And, honestly, I don’t know what it looks like today, tomorrow or the next day. But I can stop trying to retrieve that lost pride and keep allowing God to work this crazy wonder that makes me cry and smile all at the same time.
Most of you will surely be asking the question, “so now what?”
I can’t answer that publicly yet. I have begun the steps to make some obedient changes in my life. It won’t always be glaringly evident on the outside of my home but I know it’s there and so does He.
I’m saying yes to God. Yes in my mess. Because I trust that He’s got this no matter what and the unravelling of the cord is relinquishing my control and letting Him weave it into something new. Something big. Something glorious.
He has my chips and those extra cards now, remember? There’s nothing left to try and gamble with because, despite my best efforts to know when to hold ’em, He really had ’em all along.
If you continue to follow me in this space know that my words will be more real. You’ll hear more about the organizations that I’m advocating for. You’ll hear more about how I’m growing my faith and what I do when I feel I’m settling into complacency. The road to Christ should always be moving forward. We can’t stop, so why should you believe that I’ve reached the goal. I press on. I will be more personal. Real. Not always the pretty devotions I tried so hard to focus on before.
Because I’m giving Him this space.
Lord Jesus, never stop shocking me. Step into my boat. This platform is yours.
Shaun Groves and Kristen Welch, you may never read these words but I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart. Life will be very different now. So very different…
Today I’m linking up with the following authors to share my story:
Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart
Jennifer Dukes Lee for #TellHisStory
Wow! is really all that I can come up with right now. 🙂
Needed the encouragement today to keep going! Thanks!
I second Amy. Sometimes it feels like such a struggle to not let pride back in, to forget that He promised to reveal the steps as needed. Thanks for the reminder.
Now that you’ve been reminded you might need to remind me again in the future. 😉 Love ya!
Your story is an encouragemt to me right this minute…thanks for sharing here…I look forward to more as I continue to newavigate what seems to be similar emotions. Haven’ been able to write, or even think through it yet. But you sharing this gives me hope that it will come 🙂
Thank you, Emily! And thank you so much for reading!
*navigate, not newavigate… I’m on a train 🙂
Thank you for what you have to say..
Thank you for your kind words, Vicki.
Jennifer….I totally resonate with your story. I love how God had you run into Shaun G and how he suggested you talk to the person that you had emailed. I love it when God does that!!!! I too struggle as a public speaker…its an area I am not comfortable with but I care more about God’s message than what I look like as I speak out about what God has laid on my heart. God uses the weak if we allow him too. But i hate looking weak! I think its Jim Cymbala who says “God is attracted to weakness”. I am excited for you as God is obviously at work in your heart. I love where you said that God is never done with us. We are always growing, always changing. Praise God he doesn’t leave us the same way he started with us! Thankful for your honesty and looking forward to hearing more.
I’ve never heard that quote before, Kortney. “God is attracted to weakness.” But I suppose that it goes along with 2 Corinthians 12:9 – that His power is made perfect through our weakness. So often we want to keep from exposing those weaknesses. If only we would “boast all the more gladly…” Showing others that it’s truly HIM and not us. Thank you for visiting. These three posts were difficult to write, but I can honestly say it feels good to get in front of it all. Slowly but surely, submitting to His will.
Jennifer, I just read all three part of your posts and wow. I just love how God orchestrates things. He’s just all kinds of amazing. And love your honest heart in all three posts. So excited for you and look forward to following along as you step out in obedience to where God is calling you. Lifting you up in prayer as you trust in Him. It was super wonderful to meet you in person. Hugs. xoxo
Thank you so much, Beth. I feel like I have so much to say now and I just don’t know where to begin, but I think I’m just going to take it one day at a time and let it fall where it may. I loved meeting you at Declare Conf. Let’s be sure to stay in touch!
Love. So thankful for women who are open to share their mess and give God all the glory in the process – because you are, you know. Even though you might still want to run… these posts – all the glory is His. Declare messed with me in ways I didn’t expect and while I’ve always felt I was being real on my blog, I realize there are certain things I don’t admit to because in my mind they’re “bad” – like admitting I’m sensitive and a crier, admitting I’m needy.
Thanks for sharing your heart and being wildly obedient!
Thank you, Liz. Looking forward to getting to know you better through your words!
Thank you for sharing your journey of saying yes to God. I love the Hillsong quote. I love the way that God uses us to encourage each other. I hope you have a lovely day!
This was good… deep, true and good. I need to re-read. Thanks for being real, Jennifer. We are all in that place where we need to address those places of weakness and hurt with hope and promise but the part of saying yes to God that is the best place to be.
Wow! Great writing! Pulled me in and pushed me forward to serve God in more tangible ways. Loved it!
This is so inspiring! When we feel the Spirit leading, we must follow. Blessings to you as you allow God to use you!
Thank you so much, Sarah!