Last night was the 1st session of my churchs fall session of women’s group. I was not going to go. I did not even register for it. A few hours before start time, I said to myself, “well you cannot go anyway, the car was taken in for repair so how are you going to get there.” Either way, I felt inclined to register, remembering the conversation I had with a wonderful woman at church, where she asked and I said yes I would attend. Immediately I received a confirmation of my registration and an email from my pastor’s daughter proclaiming how excited she was for the group. That email made me feel, maybe she is too excited & this may not be for me.
Regardless of my feelings, I decided I would take my sons car. Before leaving, I prayed, “Lord, I pray for a heart of flesh so that tonight I may receive what you have for me.” I arrived a few minutes early and sat in the parking lot, still debating. Alas, I made my way to the entrance. At the door, two women greeted me warmly. The room was beautifully arranged, with about six large round tables, (helps with conversation) with burlap table covers and fresh sunflowers (I love sunflowers). A small buffet style set up of fruits, salad and drinks. I peruse the room for familiar faces, found the wonderful woman I mentioned before and sat down.
The central theme of the study is women saying yes to God. The instructor begins with telling her life story. The moments of rejection, searching for love and significance, abuse and loss. Then she says, I felt like God had His chosen people and then people that were “throwaways.” My God! When I heard that term, I knew immediately that was the term to the thoughts that have always percolated in my head. The thoughts of, “them, not you, never you.” She said, though, in what she described as her lowest moment, a moment of indescribable pain, she received a note, a note with a single scripture written on it, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. This is why, I guess, I had to be here. I had to listen to this. Listen to God speak to my heart in the presence of all these women. The scripture, I have read hundreds of times before, but this time, it felt different, it was attached to my real life experience. She said that at once, she got to her knees and because she had nothing else left to give, she gave God all she could, a yes. That was all He needed. As she said, the Messiah touched her messy life, healed her and gave her a message for other hurting people. Women. There is a story, we all have stories and we must tell it and use it for comfort of others.
Here is one of mine.
Eighteen years ago, I was living in NYC. Single mother of my two babies. In a relationship that started as a “fling” but I wanted more. A relationship that was doomed from the get. But this I know now. Then, I hoped and prayed against that knowledge. He told me, straight up, “this is not what I want long term” he even told my father the same thing. A single mother was not what he envisioned for his future. Yet, I prayed, made myself available to meet his every need. Humiliating myself. I felt ashamed for inserting myself in situations where he would need me but I did it anyway, in the off chance that would be the thing that would change him. I was embarrassed to speak of what I was doing and going through. I cried, prayed and begged God, “Please change his heart. Help him see that I am the one.” To no avail. I thought I would be alone forever. I took whatever he offered and built castles in the sky with it, creating a world from a single moment. Sad, I know. This was my doing, I had been warned, advised and I ignored.
After being on and off for about two years, things started to change for me. I know longer felt comfortable in the role of desperation I had been playing. Again, I asked God for help, but this time, “God help me get over him and find myself.” There were days where I just knew I would die, there were others that I felt my confidence returning. I began to slowly unravel myself from the ties I had created & was grasping at. I began to engage more with my family. Spent more time with my friends. I wrote to purge myself. I prayed a lot. I laughed more. The time came when I got the courage to fully walk away. I remember the exact moment, I looked down into my bathroom sink, looked up to the vanity mirror and told myself, “I can’t do this anymore, I am tired.” I began taking drives, long drives, as they have always soothed me. Driving was the only time when I felt I was fully in control. During these drives, I thought a lot. I listened to music loudly and breathed. After every drive and breathe, calm would come over me. I would speak of these drives as therapy.
Looking back now at those events and the course my life took, God never left me, not that I noticed. There were still times that I cried a lot, still yelled at him for not listening and not giving me what I wanted and felt undeserving of His attention. Nevertheless, He was patient. He took my abuse and quietly showed me a different path.
I was a mess. But I said yes. Today, I am less messy. With confidence I can say, He wove Himself into my story providing an alternate ending, one that in my blind desperation I could not have fathomed. I look back now and I see it, I see the reason for the, “no” it was more of a “no, Jackeline, I have something better.” He showed me I am not a stop on someone’s journey. He restored my confidence. He loved me more than I loved myself. He showed me I am not a throwaway; I am His. We all are.