I have to admit - I love this story.
I am enamored as I look back on how it has unfolded and how it continues to unfold. It's the story of a woman who had the All American Dream and yet felt empty inside. Who somehow found the courage to risk it all to answer a calling - to a purpose greater than herself.
Perhaps though, I am mostly grateful. Because it's the story of a father's love. The kind of love that leads, encourages and sustains through the highest heights and deepest valleys. The kind of love that says, "I am here no matter what."
You’ve often heard it said that when God closes one door, He opens another; but sometimes it doesn’t happen that simply. For those of us who are fighters (also known as stubborn, strong-willed, high-achievers, control freaks, etc.) sometimes, God has to force you out of the room then lock and bolt the door behind you.
A few years ago, God began impressing upon me that I needed to spend some time evaluating my priorities. Now, I had done all of the things a "modern woman" should. I earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing, got married, had three precious little boys, and had been a faithful employee to the same organization for over 13 years. I had climbed a few rungs on the corporate ladder and was helping design and implement new programs and profit streams for the organization. To many, it would have seemed I was on top of my game. And, in many ways I was – but I also began noticing the scale beginning to shift. I was spending more time at work than at home; I was missing out on my children’s lives; I was too tired to enjoy time with my husband; and I began asking, “Is this really why God put me here? Am I truly living out His plan for my life?”
Now, when God allows us to begin contemplating deep, spiritual, potentially life-changing thoughts, you know something is about to happen. I mean really, most of the time we live on auto pilot; just trying to survive from one day to the next, one event to the next, one paycheck to the next, sprinkle in the occasional drama, recover from life's hurts, have a little fun, enjoy a few vacations here and there, and say that we "hope we have a positive impact on someone" before we die.
Rarely do we take time to solicit the insights of our creator as to what we needed to focus on bringing into, or eliminating from our lives to answer the higher calling of His purpose for our lives.
I could feel the storm brewing in my soul. As the stress and frustration of conflicting paradigms waged war on my mind, it also began to wage war on my body. In addition to persistent, unrelenting exhaustion, I began experiencing shortness of breath. Not acute shortness of breath as one would describe in having a panic attack, but rather an ever-persistent hunger for air. I had hives covering my body for over six weeks and was gaining weight despite eating healthy and exercising. Fortunately I met a wonderful functional medicine physician, who helped me to better understand my symptoms. She identified at least 6 food sensitivities and stage 3 adrenal exhaustion. The result of pressing too hard for too long. The result of perfectionism and maligned priorities. The result of the deep inner stresses of living the paradox between who I thought I “should” be vs. who God carefully fashioned me to be. It was time for change. But what did that mean? What would change look like? I began asking God to show me the way.
Little did I realize that when I asked God to begin showing me the change He had in mind that it would lead to a season of waiting, a season of surrender, and a call to choose…….
Because of the new programs I was slated to develop at work, I began taking courses on how to coach others through life transitions, empowering healthy lifestyle choices and to achieve the abandoned dreams that God had once placed in their heart. I can honestly say that, while the purpose of taking these courses was to gain a new skill set to be able to help others, the lessons I learned changed my life in a very profound way.
During the months of planning and learning, praying and waiting, something else was happening. We experienced a complete turnover of our executive leadership team. And in the months that followed, the programs that I was scheduled to develop, slowly began to be eliminated from the organizational plan.
I was beginning to feel confused about where I fit in, who I was, what God wanted me to do. The brewing storm was about to reach crisis level – but as I hope you will see, these were just a few of the steps that needed to occur as the Lord continued to hear my prayers and was preparing a test – a test of willingness to wait, to surrender, and a test of faith.
And then the day came – The day that the test was laid before me and my destiny would be forever changed. My friend and manager shared with me that there were some changes being made within the organization and that my job was going to be eliminated. She offered me the opportunity to move into a management role which was an advancement I had wanted for years! Part of me was elated at the opportunity! I had wanted this for so long and knew I could have a positive impact on the organization. But as we continued to talk, I began to realize this was more than an opportunity for a long-awaited advancement, this was a test. God had given me the keys to unlock, not one – but two doors. Behind the first door was honor, pride, stability, progress, the next rung on the corporate ladder – but at the expense of time with my family.
Behind the second door was uncertainty, instability, insecurity, less independence and full dependence on God - but the chance to honor Him by having the time to love my husband more fully, teach my children more diligently, cultivate a closer relationship with Him and begin to help others in a deeper, more personal and meaningful way.
Well, if my stress level had not yet reached the crisis point, it was there now because, I had one week to make my decision!
It may seem to you like the decision was obvious. But let me tell you, it took every second of that week – fasting, praying, and seeking counsel to make the decision.
You see, Satan made sure that fear, doubt, and self-destructive thoughts did their part. After all,
“what good mother wouldn’t sacrifice her very life to ensure her children didn’t go hungry and homeless?
Because, if you quit your job and lose your benefits, you know that’s what’s going to happen – right. Your selfish desire may very well cause your husband to lose the farm – do you really think your marriage is strong enough to survive that? What will your parents and co-workers going to say? You’ll be such a disappointment!”
Psalms 25:4-5 became my lifeline;
“Show me the right path O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my trust in You.”
Psalms 130:5 my line in the sand;
“I am counting on the Lord; Yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word.”
And so, with my line drawn in the sand, I ask you – where does your hope lie?
For me, my hope is in the Lord. He planted this stirring deep in my soul years ago and He continues to call me out into the crashing waves of the deep. Encouraging me to trust Him more deeply, surrender the worldly things and ideals that I unknowingly hold so tightly, and be patient for His timing to serve Him more fully.
It is from the deep that A Purpose Given Life was born.
Because I chose to follow - to trust - and to walk in faith,
This is the beginning of MY LEGACY
My hope is that someday, you'll love your story too!