I settled into the leather chair at The Robin’s Nest coffee shop, notebook in hand. My Fridays are set aside for meeting with women, planning conferences, and sharing heart to heart with those I love. Most of the women are friends I have known for years but, from time to time, I meet women’s ministry leaders I’ve never met before. This was just such an appointment.
Some people find first meetings awkward and they grow apprehensive. I find them exhilarating. There is something about new friendships… new possibilities… new partnerships that I thrills me. New relationships are unpredictable. Some of the most random meetings in my life have developed into lifelong friendships. Some have become mentors in my life, some I have mentored. Others have come and gone with no lasting relationship, but seldom without impact.
I didn’t know what to expect as I sat in my leather chair, attempting to recall the picture on the website. Would I recognize her when she walked in? Was she tall? Short? Perfectly made up? Moments later she walked up to the door. Our eyes met and instantly there was that warm camaraderie, that sense of friendship and ‘knowing’. We had conversed on several occasions about doing a conference at her church but, beyond those conversations, we didn’t know each other.
It had been a hard week but, for one afternoon, life was all about focusing on the positive, planning a life-changing conference, and forgetting about the struggles of life. Girl time is amazing that way.
In the days leading up to this meeting I had shared numerous times with my husband, Tim, that I was struggling. I understand that what God has called me to do in ministry is not easy. The topic of abuse is painful and addressing the other disappointments of life is difficult. The challenge of finding joy and wholeness out of the ‘hell of life’ is an ongoing battle and sometimes the weight of doing ministry in this area, falls heavy on my heart.
One of the things that carry me through the difficult times of ministry, is knowing that I don’t stand alone, knowing that I have cheerleaders—often silent ones—who believe in the cause, knowing that there are people in my life that I can fall back on. These people, often unwittingly, give me the courage to move forward when I am too tired to give any more of myself.
Without these people, I would still give my best to what God has asked me to do, but it would be a tired best. And that was the struggle. Whether rightly or wrongly, I felt somewhat abandoned and as though key people in my life were not there. Mostly it wasn’t true, but what we know does not always impact what we feel and our struggles are often on the ‘feeling’ level. Numerous times I said to Tim, “I feel alone…. I feel so unprotected… I’m so tired… “
I was not prepared for what happened, only moments after my new friend seated herself in a leather chair across from me. I had already determined that I would lay aside every struggle to pour myself into planning and relationships. Funny, though, God never asks me before He addresses my heart issues.
We had only talked ‘friendly chatter’ for a few moments when she looked at me, as though she was seeing right through the middle of my heart and said, “I see you being attacked. The enemy wants to take you out but God is protecting you. He has you covered.”
I cannot say that it is word for word what she said, but it’s pretty close! Uninvited, tears welled in my eyes. How could she, a ‘stranger’, speak so directly into my life?
In an instant I knew this: I had heard God speak my name. Through a woman I had never seen before, a woman who had no idea that I had said repeatedly to my husband, for several weeks leading up to this meeting, that I felt unprotected.
That moment of truth and vulnerability opened up a door to a level of relationship that can take years to develop. It also empowered me, encouraged me and gave me the reassurance that I am never alone. I am never abandoned.
As long as God speaks my name and is my cheerleader, I have more than enough to take me the next leg of the race!