I’ve been beating myself up lately about something, and I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.
About sixteen years ago, I started the women’s ministry at my former church with a dear friend. I went on to lead it for ten years. It was my passion, and I loved every moment of it. (It also drove me crazy, but I think that’s par for the course.)
Then about seven years ago, I went through a personal crisis that led me to become very interested in social justice. And when I get interested in something, I don’t just read about it. I do something about it. And I did. It became my focus for probably three years.
Until another personal crisis hit – my dissolving marriage – and I had to put all my energy into trying to repair it and then admitting defeat and walking away from it. This took about three years, and I’m still in this phase. But this crisis shifted my focus to hurting women in difficult marriages, and those going through divorces, and the Church’s response to abuse.
And so here’s where I beat myself up: I think I might be causally fickle. I seem to jump on a cause and stay with it for a while, almost positive that it will be “my thing” for the rest of my life, and I pour my heart and soul into it, and then, bam, something sexier and shinier comes along and woos me away, and I drop the previous cause like an old boyfriend and don’t look back.
Which leads me to waiting for the other shoe to drop: am I going to do that with this current so-close-to-my-heart cause this time around? Am I going to all of the sudden be bored with helping hurting women? Am I going to get tired of talking about bad marriages and bad divorces? Am I going to run out of things to say? Things to do about it? Am I going to drop this thing and go onto something else?
I have no idea. Just like I assumed I’d be in women’s ministry all my life, and I’m now not. And just like I then assumed I’d be championing AIDS awareness and clean water and international adoption in daily ways, and I’m now not. I have no idea if one day I will realize that my current cause is no longer my thing.
I don’t know if this makes my fickle. (Why do I always have to put myself down?) It could just be that I’ve been listening to what God was doing in my life and following the Spirit’s leading. (Heaven forbid, it actually be that I’ve been doing something right!)
Plus, and this is a pretty big plus. It’s not like the effect of my influence ended the moment I laid down my women’s ministry director torch or when I switched gears from social justice to difficult marriages. I have prayed for years that the work of my hands have eternal value, and I believe it has. Women came to know Christ personally through events I planned. Some learned their gift mix, some learned to lead teams or small groups. And there are a few children who were orphans that are now living in the homes of some of my friends, and I played a part in that. And there are some wells dug that perhaps wouldn’t have been. And I shared the good news of grace with a local woman who has HIV. It all keeps going. And women have always been the common threads. And justice is still what I’m advocating for. It’s all interrelated; it’s all connected.
So this is what I do know. I know that I want to keep following God. And I know that I want my life to matter. And I know that I want my pain to mean something. And I know that right now, I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I know that I am going to keep doing this until God tells me to stop. And that’s not being fickle; that’s being obedient.\
If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.
Your core has not waivered, only the season of life. It would be strange to have the same passions through each stage of life. We need to hold our passions loosely so the Lord can use us and our experiences in the way He deems best. No, you are not fickle.
I agree — well said!
“So this is what I do know. I know that I want to keep following God. And I know that I want my life to matter. And I know that I want my pain to mean something. And I know that right now, I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I know that I am going to keep doing this until God tells me to stop. And that’s not being fickle; that’s being obedient.”
Wow. I love that. I feel that in my soul, in my bones, in my heart – and I hold on with you to the hope that this pain means something. Divorce derails us. Sometimes I have felt like God doesn’t want to use me, that my life has become so full of trying to put one foot in front of the other that there is no energy left. But He always shows me that He will use me even if it is a conversation with the store clerk, or taking a meal to a friend. He’ll use me – us – where we are at and it might not be grand and it might change like we change our socks. But after the death, the resurrection comes! I am SO looking forward to watching the pain turned into something beautiful. I pray for that for you too, sweet one.
God does turn the pain into something beautiful! Well said!
I do not see you being fickle but a very gifted woman of God. He has allowed so much to come your way because He knew you would continue to look to Him. I see you as a catalyst for Jesus. The pioneers get the arrows and the settlers get the land. All comes with the territory.
Taste and see that the Lord is good….Ps 34:8….”You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20
I celebrate with you a new “season of life”. with Jesus!!!!
Much love to you my dear sister in Christ…….
Carolyn, what awesome words of encouragement. Thank you so much! Elisabeth
“that’s not being fickle; that’s being obedient.”
Hmmm…. Seems to me that it might be the “fickle” part of you that actually allows you to accomplish so much. Could it be that the part of your personality that gets passionately excited by new things is maybe also the part that allows you to jump into them with gusto and actually DO something about them, versus just THINKING about doing something about them? I’m sure there are “steady” people out there who accomplish great things as well, but maybe that’s just not how God wired you. Maybe He wired you to be the person who sees areas that need help, be passionately motivated to do something about them, get others involved in them, and then move on to another area where you can get even more people involved. Remember that any of the stuff that those other people do after you leave is still kind of on your score card because they wouldn’t be doing them if it weren’t for your influence. Also, I think it could be really helpful to have people around who have a broad awareness of many issues, people who see a bigger picture than being involved in any one cause would afford.
I have wanted all those things, even since I was a little girl who other little girls came to with their hurts. Especially the “I want my pain to mean something” part. My background includes a father I saw once by accident in a store, with my mother only telling me after the fact that he was my father, more than one occasion of rape (of which I never told anyone until recent years), self mutilation, a boyfriend in high school that beat me regularly, then a wedding at 19 to a man who has emotionally, verbally and as I understand it now, probably sexually abused me too.
Then a few months ago I found my father’s obituary and saw that I was not even mentioned, but another daughter was, who I had never known of! It was the last straw of rejection that I felt I could stand. At my next visit with my counselor I said “I am more messed up than I thought!” to which she replied, “No, you’re more resilient than you thought.” And the reason is GOD. He has had my heart for all these years, even when I felt like a big “zero,” he was there, teaching what it was like to be hurt, deeply hurt. But he gave me a wonderful mother, and grandmother whose love could be counted on. And he gave me two wonderful daughters who make me feel like, and tell me, that I’m the best mother in the world.
So now I know that the wheat must be ground to make bread, and the grapes must be crushed to make wine. Then we can be poured out to the hungry and hurting. And He’s beginning to send me women, of all ages, sizes and backgrounds and I’m able to share my gift of exhortation. That’s the meaning in the pain, and His grace must be sufficient until I reach home.
So much pain and then so, so much healing and redemption. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
Wow….I said a prayer for your CONTINUED healing….such pain and still..GOD can bring that redemption and healing and it won’t be for nothing – you are being used, I am sure of it ..being USED for HIM…what a gift that is. That may not make sense, but when my sister lost her 17 year old son ( my nephew ) another lady who had lost her 18 year old son, told her..’this is really a gift …if you can look at it this way’. Of course she did not tell her that until well over a year after Blake’s passing to heaven, as the timing was not there. But now, almost four years later – my sister is sharing with other mother’s who are grieving a loss of a young son or daughter. And now she really sees it as a gift – as now she is HIS and knows about eternity in a way she never would of before her son’s passing. So, that is why I say..it is a gift. Elisabeth’s words were a gift to me, and helped encourage me. Your comment today, helped me too — to see that GOD is…God.
Elisabeth – you are exactly what God knew you would be….HIS. I think you are RIGHT on track!
So how is helping women in or coming out of difficult marriages not a women’s ministry. I think God was just laying a foundation and is continuing to build on it.