By God’s grace, I was able to proudly set up the Bride booth Thursday night. It was a difficult task but I am proud to say that I conquered it. That evening in the large session, I found myself sitting in the midst of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Priscilla Shirer, Dannah Gresh and Joni Erickson Tada… one of these things is not like the others – that would be me.
Blessed by the message of seeking God, I was really stretched when we were instructed to pray with those around us. Yup… those women were in my prayer circles. Talk about being out of my element!
Friday morning came. I was nervously excited about speaking to the teen girls. However, I struggled with the Lord. I knew He was the one placing me on that stage, but oh how I wished I didn’t have to be.
I have always felt called to be a speaker. I figured I would be speaking about hip dysplasia or how to have the perfect marriage. It never occurred to me that I would be speaking on brokenness and rejection and God's goodness in the midst of pain.The Teen Track at True Woman was based on the book Lies Young Women Believe. Dannah admonished the girls to identify the lies that they believed and replace them with God’s truth. I was to be a live example of how this was done to nearly 500 girls.
I walked on stage and told the “perfect love story” that had all of the girls gushing – especially the proposal. I then explained how we said our final goodbye at an airport - unbeknownced to me. “We just knew you were going to say he died in an accident,” one girl told me following the session. "That would have been easier," I thought to myself. I proceeded to explain how the world I knew and the man I loved was gone in an instant without any warning or explanation.
Sniffles could be heard around the room. Monday I had the privilege of teaching at Grace Prep… this time I was a real-life example of God’s truth and healing. This required being incredibly vulnerable and exposed. If you know me at all you are aware of how tough I like to be… again I was out of my element.
Dannah Gresh and Erin Davis joined me on the stage – together we were going to demonstrate how to pray through lies and find God’s truth. This was not rehearsed or practiced at all.
“What feelings are you battling right now, Heather?” Dannah asked. “Anger?” I timidly responded. She said there is always something that lies under the surface of anger. Dig deeper. I tried again. “Rejection, maybe?” I continued to grow more and more uncomfortable as I realized I was no longer in control of the conversation. “Ok, we can work with that… why do you feel the sting of rejection?” No duh… I thought to myself. I hate being vulnerable.
Then the Lord grabbed hold of the hangy-downy thing in the back of my throat and threw words out of my mouth, completely bypassing my pride. “I am not good enough.” WHAT? Did I just say that out loud in front of 500 girls?! They will think I am not strong…. Oh my stars... Wide-eyed, I stared blankly into the crowd – this is NOT how I envisioned this going. Dannah was finally content with this answer. We labeled the lie. “Heather, you need to find truth to replace this lie,” she handed me a Bible. I was hardly even aware that it was a lie I was believing... it was. “Girls, can you help Heather replace this lie?” Bible pages started turning. The Lord impressed Isaiah 43:4 upon my heart. Taking the microphone, I read aloud, “Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you. I gave men in return for you, people in exchange for your very life.”
She then turned to the girls. “If you have a word of truth that you would like to share with Heather, please stand up.” Nearly two-dozen girls immediately rose to their feet. We know that I pride myself in the fact that I don’t cry…. In continuing with the “out of my element” theme, I lost it.
Three girls shared via microphone their word from the Lord. One mom who was in the room powerfully spoke over me 2 Corinthians 3:11, “For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.”
Basically at this point I am a bawl baby. For the sake of time, Dannah instructed the rest of the girls who had a word of truth for me to write it down and give it to me after the session. I left with 96 pieces of paper covered with God’s truth…
I spent the following hour after the session talking to and praying with girls who were dealing with their own feelings of “not being good enough.” WOW. That night, I continued to be shaken by the message of stepping out of the way and making room for God by Priscilla Shirer and the powerful message of forgiveness by Joni Tada (I know you don’t have all the spare time in the world, but click and listen if you have a chance!) My boat was rocked this weekend - I will be processing for a while!
I could not even look at the stack of truth letters without tearing up. Monday we had the day off to rest. I sat on the floor of my room surrounded by the pieces of truth. Many girls shared Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. Some shared their personal favorite verses. Others simply thanked me for my transparency and willingness to speak out. One girl shared of her own struggle of not being good enough; “I have been cutting for a year… your story gave me hope. I know I am good enough to GOD - I don't need to cut anymore!”
I was blown away by the encouragement, prayers and testimonies. I was finally beginning to accept that I might be a crier after all… tears streamed down my face with each letter, overwhelmed by what the Lord was doing despite my pain and my flesh. I was nearing the end of the stack when I unfolded a piece of notebook paper. All it read was, “He is an idiot.” I erupted into a heap of joyful laughter! This poor girl, like me, must have difficulty engaging her filter sometimes! My heart was brimming with joy and refreshment. I smiled at God's goodness and well-timed sense of humor.
Of course, having followed the Lord’s calling means coming into opposition with the Devil. This week – for the first time in months- I am struggling with dreams of the man I loved. Bad dreams that cause me to awake in tears, reliving the hurtful words all over again. Spiritual warfare is real people!
It still hurts... but God makes beautiful things out of our pain.
“Those who would be vessels of mine must be tested, for the passage of my power demands the durability only the tests can build.” From the Father’s Heart pg. 70
That is where I desire to be.
Purpose to allow God to use your pain for His glory... Get out of your element.