Good morning, friends, and thank you for joining me here today to hear “Part 2” of my God-story. (If you missed Part 1, check it out here.)
Last week I shared my “coming into faith” journey and today I’m following that up with where I’m at now and the call / mission I believe God has ordained for me moving forward. So without further ado, let’s pick up with where we left off last Wednesday …
So I ended the last week with how I ultimately came to a point where I just gave myself over to God in the summer of 2006 and that over the past 10 years, I’ve walked this life out with Him consistently, through ups and downs. In those 10 years, I’ve led and participated in bible studies, completed various devotionals, met and befriended some wonderful sisters in the faith, joined a faith-filled network / online community of women, wrote an eBook all about my faith journey, started this blog, and attended a handful of Christian conferences. It’s been awesome to connect with others, as well as learn so much and grow more deeply in my faith (both my expression and practice of it).
While I’ve loved ALL of those things, and the flesh-part of me really likes to have that list of items checked off as “done, accomplished, complete, gold star” activities, the Spirit-part of me knows that my faith is less about what I do for God and more about my heart and mind’s position toward my God. I’ve been reminded through life circumstances, challenges, and most importantly His Word, that it’s about intimacy with Him – a real, loving, worshipful, content, vulnerable, risky and sometimes dangerous relationship with Him – where I can just be me, pouring it all out (the messy and the beautiful), letting Him meet me where I’m at, and receiving what He offers – His love, grace, compassion, faithfulness, mercy, forgiveness, joy, and life – abundant and eternal.
The truth is that I’ve walked the path of both bondage (anxiety, comparison, control, depression, perfectionism, striving) and freedom (letting go, surrendering to Him, receiving grace, refocusing my gaze on Him minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour), tasting the consequences and results of both, and friends, His freedom is such a better way for us.
And that’s really what I’m about these days – pointing others in the direction of Christ for the sake of freedom.“ After all, “it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1), and I believe I am called to be a part in spreading that message here on earth.
This does not mean that I am by any means “perfect” or have this whole faith / walking with Jesus thing figured out. Far from it. I am a student, just as much as the next person. I still have a long way to go in my journey, with very real challenges and pain I am working through, but because of the ways God has already broken chains and healed pieces of my heart thus far, I am confident and hopeful that He who began a good work in me will be faithful in completing it (Philippians 1:6). And so, every day, I put one foot in front of the other and choose to direct my focus to Him who is at work, making all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Because of my personal history, I have a heart for those who “convert” to the Christian life. I know what it’s like to be “new” to this whole thing and trying to navigate this territory – it can be downright intimidating and awkward and we can often feel very much alone, especially if our primary circle of influence isn’t on board with our newfound enthusiasm and excitement about Jesus. So I get it, and I’m here for you if you’re wondering how to do this thing. I’ll be honest – I’m not a very regular church-attendee. I listen to sermons online occasionally, download podcasts, hang out and connect with my sister-friends in the faith (in-person and online), I read A LOT (books and of course, the Word), and I listen to a lot of worship music and spend time journaling, praying, praising, and creating for His glory. In terms of service, I work for an international Christian non-profit organization, volunteer as a board member for an organization in my community, and participate in events for various causes (monetarily or in-person) that I’m passionate about. I do believe that church is important, but it’s certainly not the only way to connect with God and experience Him. As you enter and develop a relationship with Him, He will guide you on your own unique path with Him. And that’s what I LOVE about God – He didn’t create one of us the same and all of us have our very own adventure to live with Him. I love the diversity in the Kingdom of God.
I also have a heart for those who have experienced anxiety / depression and struggle with control / perfectionism (either as a precursor or a result of the anxiety / depression). This has been a very real part of my story, which I’ve shared in this space and with those closest to me. For people who aren’t wired with these tendencies, it can be hard to understand and empathize with. But, if you’re in this boat, hear me – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I hear you. I know you. I have felt the pain that comes with this. I, too, have hurt people because of this struggle. But there is hope. And there is freedom. It takes work and a total breaking through all that feels normal and safe and comfortable. But it’s so worth it. God is so GOOD and He will meet you where you are and minister to you all that you need, each and every day, to make it to the other side. And I will listen and walk this journey with you too. I also encourage you to find a good Christian counselor, who can guide you on the path of healing and recovery. And pray for and engage with a really good group of friends who will encourage, empower, support, listen and speak truth over you. We need people, and they need us. Genuine community is built from the practice of transparency. Let down your guard and let people in. It will transform you.
Lastly, I have a heart for those who are actually, very literally, in bondage at this very moment (the abused, broken, kidnapped, and trafficked). I am a professional social worker by occupation and throughout the course of my career, the Lord has really put me in the lane of those who have experienced domestic and sexual abuse, as well as human trafficking. I worked for an organization and now serve on the board of that same organization who specifically addresses DV/SA issues in the community, and is now addressing the issue of human trafficking as it relates to these societal problems. And now my full-time job is beginning to intersect with human trafficking as well. It’s just not something I can shake off or deny, and it’s not just because I’m in the helping field and these have been “hot button topics” as of late. Social work encompasses numerous aspects and areas of focuses; so I really believe God has called me to work on behalf of the abused, kidnapped, oppressed, and trafficked. I don’t know what this all looks like for the future, but I am praying about what He has in store for me and trusting that He will lead me to opportunities where I can help others, using the gifts, talents, abilities, and connections He’s blessed me with.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was really wondering and asking God to reveal the direction He had for my life, and constantly feeling like I wasn’t where I’m supposed to be and begging Him to just bring me to the places He wanted me to be for my good and His glory. I sit here writing today in complete awe of what He’s done in really a short time-frame. There is no doubt in my mind that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that I am doing the things He has called me to. It’s awesome! He’s brought me so far in my journey and given me a steadiness of spirit, mind, and body that could only ever come from Him. I believe He can, is, and will do the same for you.
As I prepare to close, I want to leave you with this reminder of your identity in Him – a true gem from His Word:
“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message)
Friends, you are chosen by God. You have a divine assignment, with real work to do. He calls you Holy and His very own. He gives you everything you need to do His work here on earth and will show you the way to do it as you place your trust in Him. The highest calling we have is to follow where He leads. Let’s be unstoppable, undeniable, undaunted, unafraid, unashamed, and unhindered in following where He calls and RUN ON MISSION for His glory and the sake of His Kingdom come down.
Thanks for letting me share my story – my history and heart – with you these past two weeks. I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to connect with me in the comments! Blessings!
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