The title of this post may have caught your attention a bit =p Last week at our church's wonderful MOPS group we were encouraged to share a bit deeper into our "Story". Those two words are greatly a part of mine - one in which I actually chose Not to share last week - but may in the future. Or maybe after posting it here it won't be necessary -lol.
You see we all have a Story - or rather a "Testimony" as the Good Book likes to call it. We all have things we have overcome or areas in which we struggle a bit to be completely set free from. These aren't meant to be things for others to judge us by or things to 'mark' our lives as being worthy or unworthy - better or less then anyone around us. They aren't things at all but parts and pieces that make up our whole being - our Story. And when we are able to share a bit more deeply some of those pieces with others - maybe in a more intimate group then the World Wide Web =p but in whatever context we feel comfortable or beautifully stretched in doing so - we not only set more of those pieces free - we also help encourage & uplift others ... even if it's just to help them realize they aren't alone.
So back to my two little words that have forever altered my being... I've decided to share in hopes of helping someone know two things - 1. You aren't alone in the anxieties & fears you face & 2. God says YES He loves you That Much....!
Here's my Story.
Years ago -we'll just say it's been more then 10 (I don't want to age myself too much here;) but one night during my last semester in college I had a crazy moment that changed my 'mind' forever. You know when someone asks you when something occurred in your life and you can recall it so well in detail it's like it happened yesterday?! Well this is one of those moments for me when someone asks me 'when did fear take root in your life'? Not that I'm asked that question much thank goodness -lol- but when someone can see through my walls of security that I try so well to put up - and really ask me the harder questions- this is one I now truly have no problem in sharing - thus why I've decided to blog about it- because I've realized in doing so too many people have or continue to deal with such similar things in their own personal way (if that makes sense;)
Like I said it was one night during my last semester - finals week when most of us were up cramming for one exam after another. In the beginning of that week I had asked my roommate if she had a sleeping pill I could take to help me finally get some much needed rest- since I wasn't able to naturally sleep well for several days. So I followed the directions and took one- it didn't seem to help. A few nights later I asked for another - I took 2 - I figured maybe it would work this time. It worked all right - in the form of overdose symptoms. My tongue began to feel twice it's size - my mouth was so dry no amount of water seemed to help - and then things in the room began to appear closer then they actually were. Freaked out is how I felt- totally scared having no idea what was going on with me yet knowing it was obviously from taking one too many sleeping pills. I woke one of my roommates who so sweetly sat with me and called our campus ER so a nurse could tell me what I already knew - that yes my body was just reacting from too much of a certain drug and in about 4 hours it would wear off. Yep 4 hours- so much for that sleep right-lol. Even though my sweet roommie said she'd sit up with me I totally felt silly and definitely didn't want her to lose sleep herself over my negligence in following simple directions- so I did the next best thing I knew to do- I called my Granny- because as some know- my Granny was Always up late =p So she stayed up and chatted the night away with me until my tongue felt normal again and objects in the room appeared in their proper places.
Now to most that story I'm sure doesn't seem crazy or odd or one in which that could alter someone's 'mind' enough to ever even make their Top 10 list of things worth remembering but to me it did. To me that one simple act planted a seed of fear deep within me that I've struggled to be completely set free from. And what I mean by that is that I began 'allowing' my mind to play tricks on me. And I say allowing because I've greatly learned that we play a part - the Largest part - in what thoughts we allow to grow in our minds - thoughts that can manifest themselves into other areas of our lives and even begin to control us if we don't begin to speak back at them- and speaking back with God's Words are the only things that can truly set us free! So for me- back then- those roots began to grow. I allowed my mind to think crazy things - like when I would eat something - something as simple as applesauce - one of my favs- I would think - well what if I have an allergic reaction to that- what if my throat closes us and I can't breathe and even worse... what if I die!?! Yeah crazy - I told ya! Thankfully at that time I spared those around me and I stuffed my thoughts - I'd say a prayer quietly - that I'd live and not die -lol- and try to focus my mind on something else... or worse- at times I'd actually avoid even a poor plate with applesauce on it. But as most of us know- stuffing our problems or just trying to focus on something else- doesn't pull up those roots. So they remained - and they actually grew into other areas- areas like- stress- which grew into physical symptoms where I'd even feel shakey - obviously from my nerves but being in my early 20s I didn't quite realize the control our minds and nerves and stress can truly have on our bodies - so it just caused me to mentally freak out a bit more. During this time I had graduated college - moved back home & was planning my wedding. My parents bless their hearts knew something was wrong and had me go see a Dr for a complete physical and blood work - trying to see if there was truly something 'wrong' with their daughter. Thankfully not- but not thankfully for me being as I wanted someone to tell me that it was 'something' so I could put a name on it and take a pill (in proper dosage) for it and be rid of it- whatever 'it' was. But it grew- in silence my fears and anxious thoughts grew.
Oh on the outside most knew nothing - not even those closest to me. I mean seriously who wants to tell a BFF or your hubby-to-be that you think you might Die if you eat that apple sauce tonight! lol. seriously! So I continued on in spite of myself and my crazy thoughts I would have from time to time. I got married - moved into our first house- and began a new life with the one I loved. But God. Thankfully He knew my thoughts - Thankfully He saw fit to save me from myself! So He Stopped Church... for little ol' me.
My wonderful mother-in-law had been inviting Joe and I to a revival service at her church for days. We attended a different church at the time and kept putting off her invite over the silly excuses we all can make from time to time - 'we had a long day at work, we're tired, maybe tomorrow'. Well thankfully she kept on asking right up until the last night their special speaker was to be preaching. We said yes and this is the best part of my Story.
Their revival speaker was a petite spit-fire lady with a strong Australian accent named Shirley Jones. A lady who's obedience and heart for God I will forever be thankful for! You see as I sat there among the congregation that night only God above knew I had been dealing on and off with those crazy thoughts - thoughts the enemy meant to use ultimately to defeat me. As I was sitting there trying to focus on Ms. Jones powerful God message the thought came to me, "I need prayer- right now. Oh how I wish she'd stop preaching and pray for me"! Then of course my next thought was "Who am I - no one is going to Stop Church for me"! But God- at that exact moment without skipping a beat- little Ms Shirley Jones stopped mid-preach =) excused herself from the congregation by saying - "There's someone here I need to pray for so please excuse me for a moment" - walked directly towards me and asked in her sweet Australian accent if she could pray for me! God Stopped Church.... for me! As that dear Blessed Australian lady prayed quietly over me - she didn't just pray generic prayers- she prayed Life - she prayed and spoke words over me that only God above knew I was dealing with- specific things meant only for me from Him because He knew I needed to hear. And He knew I needed to know that Yes I was worth it & Yes I was important enough for someone to Stop Church.
And it's not just meant for me my friends... He needs Each of you to know that You Are Worth It! Yes we know He died for each of us - a gruesome death on a bloody cross - so we could one day spend eternity with Him- Praise God- but He also died so that you would DAILY know you are important to Him. Every single part of you - every single crazy thought you may have- He cares about it all!
And I needed to remind someone of that tonight.
Through that piece of my Story I've shared with you God's thankfully grown me - because I've allowed Him to. One person at a time - one more in depth conversation over a cup of coffee - each time I've allowed myself to open up and share- He's poured out more Joy and Confirmation and Love over me - and often I'm blessed to see Him do so onto the person listening to my crazy tale =p So He's helping me pull up those roots ... and no longer water them.
I'll forever be indebted to Ms. Shirley Jones. She could have been one of the many who I'm truly thankful for praying over me throughout my lifetime... but instead she's just a bit more. I mean seriously... You've gotta realize that little petite spit-fire of a lady had to have one awesomely close relationship with God in order to be able to Hear His voice and Act in Immediate Obedience to what He was asking her to do- to Stop Church- for little ol' me. That my friends - that is a woman who's become one of my earthly heroes. Because I too now desire to be That Obedient to Him - no matter what others may think- no matter how I may look- because there just might be someone who needs to be reminded that Yes You Are Worth It- Yes God Loves You That Much - Yes.... He Will