The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 5. You can read now!
The Real Me
“I know God told us to make this move, but it feels like everything in my life is either broken or falling apart.”
In December of 2016, my husband and I made the hardest decision we’ve ever made in our married life. After months of prayer and fasting we took a step of faith and stepped away from our current ministry positions…that we loved with every piece of our being. We knew God was at work. We could feel the unsettling nature of the Holy Spirit just before it moves in a powerful way. God had assured us time and time again that He did, in fact, have a plan. He just needed us to act in obedience. So, on a Thursday in December we finally said, “Ok, God. We’re going to do this your way.”
I have to tell you, there were many tears…even more sleepless night. I felt sick to my stomach. I lost weight because of the stress. And that unsettling nature I just spoke about felt all-consuming. In hindsight, I understand.
God was about to move in a mighty way. He was going to expand the ministry He had called us to beyond our wildest imaginations, but first…I had to endure six long lonely months of separation from my husband. And in order to survive I had to put all my faith, all my trust in my Lord and Savior.
In January, God began to reveal his plan to us. The puzzle pieces came together and for the first time we could clearly see what God had designed for us.
But this new chapter would require a move. With just over half of the school year under our belt and the finalization of our adoption nearing, Frank and I decided that I would stay in Charlotte until June and he would work from Atlanta during the week and come home on the weekends. Six months with limited access to my husband.
Now I should tell you, my husband and I like each other…I mean we really like each other. Of course I love him immensely, but Frank is genuinely my best friend, my rock, my confidant, my protector, my boyfriend (because we still date) and my most favorite person. I have this little saying, “Jesus is #1 in my heart, but Frank is a close second.” So when faced with this challenge, I knew there were going to be hard days and even more difficult nights.
During these six long months, I had two friends, two ladies that stood with me. They listened to me, supported me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. As the old seventies song goes, their love kept lifting me higher. Day after day, I leaned on them and they never faltered.
On a particularly bad day, I remember standing in the hallway at the YMCA where we were working out saying to my friend, “I know God told us to make this move, but it feels like everything in my life is either broken or falling apart.”
My husband was two states. Our newly adopted son had developed a pattern of stomping to his room and ignoring me. My oldest biological child, who at this point towered over me, failed to see the need to keep his grades up (since he was just changing schools anyway). My younger son developed a crush on the neighbor and suddenly had a girlfriend, and my daughter cried every time I even mentioned the upcoming move. To top it off I was lonely and feeling as if I had lost my purpose.
Ever been there?
I had acted in obedience. I was giving it my all, but it felt like I was doing nothing but treading water. And the months of isolation seem to spread out before me like an endless ocean.
I might have given up in that moment. I can’t be sure. I definitely felt like giving up. But my dear sweet friend looked at me and said, “You are the strongest woman I know. You wear more hats than any one person should ever wear and you look fabulous doing it. You listened and obeyed God. I’m going to miss you. I don’t want you to go, but I know God has something incredible in store for you and your family. And I know you miss Frank, but in the meantime you’ve got me.”
I can hardly reminisce without choking up. With only a few words, my friend had both called my bluff and lifted me up.
I have to tell you, I’m not that forthcoming with everyone. I really only have four people, other than my husband, that I share the most intimate details of my life, but those relationships are key to my sustained growth as a leader and a Woman of God.
I’ve often heard people say, “My faith is all I need…or…my relationship with God is enough for me.” I understand the sentiment. God’s love shown through grace and mercy is both satisfying and sustaining, but I think we can all acknowledge that God uses people as his delivery method.
A couple weeks back, we read a passage of scripture from Proverbs. Today I want to share another passage written by Solomon. Solomon was the second son of King David and Bathsheba was gifted by God with unsurpassed wisdom. As a child he was also given the name Jedidiah, or Beloved of the Lord. God intended to use Solomon in mighty ways, even from his birth. Solomon is known for writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The book of Ecclesiastes was written in his old age. Solomon was an aging king at the time who had not only experienced the richness of God’s blessings, but he had also sinned and turned away from God many times as he struggled with lust, materialism, and idolatry. It’s important to understand that despite his unsurpassed wisdom, he was still human, flawed and broken.
Today, we’re going to read from…Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Solomon had to be looking back at his life and speaking from his own experiences. Leadership can be lonely. It’s no surprise that so many leaders find themselves suffering or drifting from principles they once believed in so strongly.
Last week we talked about the need for vulnerability with those you encounter. And if you missed that episode, I want to encourage you to go back and listen (or read) because if we truly want to make an impact on those around us, we’re going to have to be honest about our missteps and shortcomings. But this week, I want to talk about transparency.
You may be thinking…Jessica, Vulnerability and Transparency are the same thing. However, I would argue. They are not…
Vulnerability is…offering the world our imperfections as a sacrifice to build the body of Christ through relationships.
Transparency is…allowing a select few to see our innermost thoughts, feelings and behaviors to hold us accountable, encourage us, support us and grow us as believers in Christ.
The key word there is select. While vulnerability should be offered to everyone and is necessary for connection, transparency should be limited to those who share our beliefs and values and have earned our trust.
In other words…Transparency is offered to the closest of friends.
In today’s society, transparency can be daunting. We compare our lives to those of our friends on Facebook, our homes to those on Fixer Upper, and our décor to that on Pinterest. And no matter how hard we try, it seems we never measure up. With self-doubt attacking our confidence and candor, we find ourselves secreting our struggles and suffering in silence.
In Solomon’s musings in Ecclesiastes Chapter 4, we find a man who understands the need for encouragement and accountability through companionship. Although scripture doesn’t indicate, I believe he’s speaking from personal experience. God’s love IS sufficient, but “two are better than one, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
So here’s today’s challenge: Pick up your smart phone and use it to make a call. It’s a novel idea…I know, but schedule a dinner or coffee and catch up with a girlfriend. Find time in your busy schedule to share what’s happening in your world and invest in the lives of your friends.
If you’re listening and you feel disheartened because you can’t think of anyone to call, I would encourage you to plug in to a local church or ministry. Trust is not easily given or acquired, but with Christ at the center, you can be assured your steps are aligned. A small group is a great place to find and form friendships.
If you truly want to grow and thrive as a leading woman of God, you’re going to need Christ centered companionship, you’re going to need to identify a select few with who you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings with, close friends that will support and offer accountability without judgment. You’re going to need to learn to trust and offer confidentiality in return.
“You are the strongest woman I know. You wear more hats than any one person should ever wear and yet you always look fabulous. You listened and obeyed God. I’m going to miss you. I don’t want you to go, but I know God has something incredible in store for you and your family. And I know you miss Frank, but in the meantime you’ve got me.”
Thank you Becca…your friendship means more to me than you could possibly imagine, and I’m so grateful for your support and encouragement on that very difficult day in early spring.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10