A number of years ago I went through something. It started in the month of August, so that month always brings memories back. That is what happens with PTSD: flashbacks, feelings, introspection. At the time, all felt dead inside. My worldview, my love for people, my identity, my faith, my family, my marriage, our collective health: it all went through the fire. And at the time, and for years following, nothing emerged untouched. Everything was singed, limping, suffering, questioning.
But this past year, I was brave and, quite frankly, had to humble myself enough to finally go get a therapist for myself. To stop being strong and find a place that I could be weak, let down, face down. A good friend showed up and suggested a God-send of a therapist for me. In the past year, this therapist has breathed life into the dead places. She has helped to lift my chin from the weight of shame (that was not mine to carry) and given me the strength to step outside of the safe and back into the realm of messy people. Because, the truth is, we are all messy. True, this person who betrayed me on the level that I was betrayed was obviously, really messy. But I did not know that at the time. So for me, everyone was this person. I could teach because it did not require trusting people, or entering into their journeys on any level, only to the degree that I chose to. I had vowed to never again counsel. Never again enter into the ministry of people. Because people hurt, and they betray, and they fail to show up, and they abandon, and in some cases, they slay your soul. Even people who are supposed to love you. But in this, those people who hurt me (it started with one traumatic incident that gave way to years of fallout), got more power and victory than they EVER deserved. Why would I give them my calling on top of everything else that they had taken from me?
Well, I am taking it back. I am vowing to step boldly into my calling by using my gifts and talents and the fertile grounds of my life experiences. I quit my teaching job...leaving behind the comfort of control and hiding behind academia (not everyone who teaches is hiding...I am speaking specifically to what I was doing). I was never meant for the safe life (and neither were you). I was set apart, gifted and called to people. And for all of the times that certain people failed to show up for me, or worse, betrayed me, or utterly abandoned me in my greatest time of need, I will NOT choose to live out of that pain any longer. I am stepping back into the ring. I still have a limp, I think I always will, but just as a water pipe that has broken is strongest at the point in which it is soldered back together, I am so much stronger and wiser for my limp. I am finally to the point that it is no longer holding me in bondage to fear and shame. It is propelling me forward to seek out other women in the darkness of trauma and simply show up in whatever way I can. Its like when Jacob fought God all night long, and left with a limp and a new name... and a new understanding and appreciation for WHO God was and what direction he (Jacob) was going to go.
I have been working both personally and professionally for months to get to this point of launching back into the place where my I am best suited to serve. The time is coming. In the next six weeks both my counseling practice and the retreats for women will launch and I am so excited. Part of me is terrified, part of me is so excited I can hardly contain it, a lot of me is so busy prepping for it all, and all of me knows that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. That my friends, is a well-fought sacred spot. When you see other people effectively living out their calling...moms who homeschool doing it with grace and knowledge, teachers who reach kids hearts AND minds, business people who serve for the greater good, college personnel who see the courage in each of the students that walk in their doors, interior designers who make spaces home and bring peace through aesthetics...it is a beautiful thing. Their effectiveness comes from their purpose...from the courage to use their talents for their unique purpose in this life and for the glory of God. This journey for me has been so faith building. Long before I got to this place, years ago, God was stirring up vision in other's hearts, so that at this time, we could each step into our place in this journey, knowing that the God who calls is the God who qualifies.
One day very soon I will share specifics on the retreat offerings, but for now suffice to say that each part (lodging, menu, leaders), was God ordained and directed...I never could have met these people, found these resources, or directed this organization on my own. As I stood over-looking Lake Michigan near the cottage where the retreats will happen, I was overwhelmed by the God who SEES, and KNOWS, and LOVES and PROVIDES...not because we deserve it, but simply because He is our Father and loves to give us good gifts. And the gift of rest is indeed a good gift. In that moment I was so overwhelmed and overcome at how He is orchestrating this opportunity for women as His GIFT to them....to us. As I stood on that bluff, I could "see" the faces of the women He was going to bless through this opportunity...the ones He will grant rest and strength and hope to. I could see shackles coming off, and freedom being found. I could see life being restored, as it was meant to be lived: abundantly. Oh friends, I am so excited to watch these gifts unfold in the lives of women! Stay tuned and please start the buzz with your friends!