February 3, 2014
This weekend I had an eye opening experience. I went on a women’s retreat with Corey’s church because I really wanted to get to know some people there. We have decided that it is important to go to church together so I am going to his church because it is a lot harder for him to drive an hour and a half out to Irving to go to my church.
But I never realized how hard it is to find your place in a large church. I didn’t know a single person and because of that it has never felt like a church home. There was a night that I went to a Bible study at his church and as I waited for him to get there, sitting alone, not a single person acknowledged me. I really struggled with that because at Christ Church, where I have been going, I know everyone. And even if I didn’t, someone would have got to know me in an instant.
So I chose to step out of my comfort zone and go to this retreat alone… hoping that I wouldn’t be alone for long.
I did meet one lady on Thursday night and she saved me a seat on Friday. I was so thankful because it gave me a sense of belonging.
But very soon on Friday, my insecurities started coming out. I was in a room with 250 beautiful women… all dressed sharp and laughing together. I tried to get in God’s presence and remind myself that this retreat was about Him. But it was also about me… making friends… finding my place in a new church. I felt very uncomfortable because everyone was so close and I felt like an outsider.
My eye opener came when we broke out into our small groups. The message of the retreat was “Walking in Your Destiny”. So of course, we are taking about our destiny. And in my life, my past experiences are leading me to my destiny. My drug use and prison time has put the desire in my heart to work with young adults going through the same thing.
But I had already decided that I didn’t want to bring up my past. For a few different reasons. Number 1 being that Corey is a teacher and I don’t want my background to affect him in any way. Drama from parents, the school district… his students. I wanted to protect him from my bad choices. And we go to church with a lot of people at his school.
So here I am sitting with a group of 5 other women that I’ve never met. The question was “Who already knows what your destiny is?” Everyone talks a little and here I am heart beating out of my chest because I don’t know what to say. Of course I know what my destiny is, but I’m not ready to tell these people cause that would require an explanation of why I have a story to tell young people.
So I tried to be vague about it and not give away too much information. And I felt like I was lying… and I’m not a good liar. So then I was stumbling over my words and I finally just said… “I can’t go into much right now. I have a reason, I’m just not ready to open up about it.”
These women must have thought I was crazy. Here I am, saying I want to tell my story to young people but I won’t even tell them. I looked silly and I felt like I was lying.
I made it through the night. The feedback the leader gave me was that the devil will tell us lies to keep us from giving God glory. And I need to rebuke those lies. But I didn’t receive that advice. I felt like I was doing the right thing by protecting Corey. It’s not that I’m ashamed by my story, but it sure felt like I was that night.
I left there with a very heavy heart. By keeping my mouth closed about the story God gave me, it made me feel like I was trying to hide something. Like the journey God has brought me on is something to be ashamed of.
I prayed hard that night. And God kept telling me… “This is your story but it is also Mine.” And I kept remembering the words that the ladies said… “This is a safe place.” And the next morning on my way back to the retreat, I knew I wanted these ladies to know.
So while I don’t think it’s time for me to tell my testimony to the whole church, I was glad I was able to open up to these 5 ladies in my group. And as soon as I was able to be honest, the Spirit filled me and I was able to participate in the discussion. I was able to relate to others experience because I could talk freely about mine.
My biggest realization was that when God gives you something to use to help others, it is incredibly hard to keep it to yourself. His Words burn like fire inside me.
Jeremiah 20:9 comes to mind, “But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”