Three years ago I was in the deepest, darkest time of my life. I wanted to be dead. Suicide was not an option because first, I'm too big a chicken to do something like that, but second, because I knew nothing lasts forever. And I knew God would help me and eventually things would get better.
During that time, from November 2009 to January 2010, I cried every Sunday during song service. It was so hard to praise God, and I felt so hopeless, so I just cried my way through. Every week after the song service we had meet-and-greet. Like most people, we sat in the same place for years and got to be familiar with the people around us, so when one acquaintance came over and asked me how I was, I replied, through tears, "Life sucks and then ya die."
The response was, "Oh! You shouldn't feel like that!"
Really? How was I supposed to feel? My world was crashing in around me and I wanted to be dead.
I learned that I could not be real with this person. From that time on I was always "great" and "wonderful" no matter what I was battling with.
In August 2010, I began classes to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. The program placed emphasis on starting our own business as a health coach. Naturally, we all had fun coming up with our business names, starting Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to promote ourselves and our new venture in life.
Without much thought, I named my business "Be Real...". I wanted, most of all, for people to be real in their relationships. No judgement from me, only love and acceptance. I wanted people to be real in their food and eating habits, real in their activity and real in their walk with Jesus. We all have struggles, battles and shortfalls, and it doesn't do anybody any good to act like we have it all together. We sometimes just don't, and that's ok.
While my business never really took off, I do have a decent following on Facebook (although I don't post like I used to) and a decent readership on my Be Real... blog. (Thank you to my faithful readers! You guys are awesome!)
I loved coaching the few clients I had, but I just didn't feel like I was doing what God wanted me to do. Looking back, I can see where the classes were just what I needed to start to feel some self-worth again and gave me something to focus on other than my issue. I feel that education is never wasted, but maybe that was the main purpose for taking the classes..just to refocus. And every day I use what I learned and I know that God will continue to use my knowledge wherever He places me.
Last April my husband and I started attending a new church. We needed a fresh start and felt God calling us in a new direction.
We've always been taught not to be a pew-sitter, so right away we looked for a place to plug in. Toward the end of last summer he started playing his trumpet on the worship team and loves it! He feels like he's found his place in ministry again!
We've known our Sr. Associate Pastor, Judy Buffum-Hemmila since the early 1980s and she was so happy to see us and couldn't wait to have us be a part of Crossfire Church.
I served under Judy in women's ministry years ago at our previous church. Last June I was able to take her to lunch and share my story, and to tell her what I've done since we last saw each other about 15 years ago.
She "hired" me that day to become the Office Manager of Crossfire Church, although there wasn't yet funding available to pay me. I didn't care. I was SO excited to have a place to be, a place to use the gifts and talents God has given me, a place to belong...a sense of purpose again!
Since the end of June 2012, I've been working 2 days a week. I LOVE what I do and I LOVE working for Judy's husband, Pastor Keith. I stand in awe every day that God would place ME in this position! I'm humbled at how He's blessed us with incredible leaders, awesome friends, deep love, and a home! When I checked in on foursquare at church a couple of weeks ago, I left the comment "Being at church is like a weekly family reunion!"
The people of our church so touch my heart. Their stories are amazing. Their love is genuine. Their struggles are real, but not too big for Jesus to overcome! My heart overflows with love for this group of people, the most amazing group on the planet!
In December, Pastor Keith spoke with a friend who asked what he could do to bless the church. Pastor told him that I'm becoming "invaluable" to him and that he'd really like to see me get paid. The man said he'd love to help and would pray about what he can do.
Last week Pastor Keith went to visit the man and came back with money to put into an account to pay me! So starting sometime this week, or maybe next, I will get paid to do what I LOVE!
Right now I cannot share the details of what I went through 3 years ago, and maybe someday I will, but if you knew...if you could really understand the darkness and depression that surrounded me...you'd know how incredibly blessed I am today. I just wanted to be dead, so to even be alive is a miracle. But to watch, up close and personal, what GOD is doing in my life is more miracle than I can describe.
Please be encouraged, that WHATEVER you're going through, God DOES care, He DOES look out for you, He DOES want to bless you...and He WILL! There is nothing too hard for Him. No question is too tough. No complaint is too offensive. No emotions are too much for Him to handle. He just wants to love you and walk through the valley with you to bring you to your mountain top. You don't have to be all polished and pretty before you ask Him...just ask Him. He can handle the ugly. I testify...He can handle the ugly! He took my ugly and made it more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed!
If you need to talk to someone, call a pastor, email a friend, or let me know. There are people who care for you. You're NOT alone!
How about you? What's your testimony? What story are you able to share of God's goodness?
Note: I've always had a heart for people and their struggles, but especially so after walking through my own darkness. My special friend (and coffee buddy!) Nancy Bouwens wrote a beautiful blog post that captures so much of my heart. Please go to her blog, Simply Abundant Life and read: I Sit Next To You and leave a comment for her. Then pay attention to the ones around you and offer them encouragement and a prayer. They need it.