So I already shared with you that I feel in love with Jesus and that it was just the start. A very slow start. In fact as soon as we returned home from that season I experienced my first spiritual low. Just like life can be a roll-a-coaster, so can your spiritual walk. There can be many highs and lows along the way. But I have come to learn that even though I may feel distant at times from Jesus, he remains the same!
“Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13.8
He remained the same, but my need changed. Because I was out of that very scary apartment and I returned home where I was comfortable I didn’t think I needed him as much. This makes me so sad to even type those words, but it was exactly how I felt. I can still so clearly remember how strong His presence felt all those scary nights. He made feel as light as a feather. Many times it was so overwhelming that I even thought I was crazy. I didn’t care how crazy it was as long as I felt safe! And the minute I was removed from that situation I dropped Him. Thank you Jesus for forgiving me when I don’t deserve it!
I was still attending church. I was still praying at night. I would still open my bible and read a little bit. But it was different. My heart was not attached to my actions. And instead of taking ownership I would pray to Him like it was his fault that I felt like He wasn’t there anymore. “Where are you? Why don’t I feel like you are there anymore?” My prayers were so filled with selfishness that I don’t think I ever really listened for an answer just kept spitting questions out to him. I didn’t even deserve His time much less an answer.
That next baseball season I decided to take over the housing duties. I found us a much nicer and safer area to live. And so again my need continued to not be there (so I thought, and this pattern went on for five long years!!!!) After two years of traveling with Brian we had made the decision for me to stay home and go back to being a full time hairstylist. That way I could easily support us and just travel to see him as much as possible. We figured it was better for me to be alone in our hometown making a way better income than in the middle of no where working random jobs every six months. It was hard being away from each other, but after awhile it started to feel normal. I would tell myself it could always be worse. And this was our safe and comfortable little life that worked for a few years.
There were many times during these five years that I had clear signs that the Lord was tugging at me. And I would convince myself that the way I was living was enough. I strived to be a good person. I attended church. I gave when I thought I could. I prayed every night. I worked hard to love and support my husband. I guess I thought I had everything under control. WRONG!
I will never forget a special young girl who I had the privilege of being her hairstylist. She was so different from all the other high school girls that came in. I loved all my clients, but this girl was so –i don’t even have a word for it–she was just beautiful inside and out. She had a relationship with the Lord and although she would have never forced her faith onto anyone she lived it! One day she had a magazine with her. But this didn’t look that the US Weekly every other person usually comes in with. I asked her what she was reading. It was a christian magazine for teens filled with awesome stories and studies. This hit my heart like a ton off bricks. I knew that instant she was in my life for a reason. I remember her asking me if I believed in God and heaven. My answer, “Yes! And I feel as if the Lord has something for me to do, but I don’t know what it is.” I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. I had no idea why I said that. It just came out. She said of course He does and He will let you know in time. I mean REALLY!!!!! She said with such a confidence. Why was I still too dumb to grasp it all? After we were finished up with her appointment that day she returned to the salon an hour later with a book in her hand. She had asked her mom to drive her to the bookstore so that she could buy me the women’s version of her magazine. What a gift?!?! And I’m not talking about the very cool book she gave me, I’m talking about her living her faith out loud for me. So did this get me out of my spiritual drought….umm nope just headed up hill now instead of down. I am independent. I am a control freak. I am prideful. I am stubborn. All these character traits take a lot to get pass, but boy has the Lord slowly forced me to face each head on!!!
My next sign that something was missing was in a conversation between me and Brian. He was the second pick of the second round in ’99 and was one of KC’s top prospects on the fast track to the big leagues when all of sudden it felt like he hit quicksand. They were changing some of his mechanics and trying to teach new pitches that put a major speed bump in his career and added many slices of humble pie to the menu. After his third straight year in AA ball we were talking about his desires and plans. I remember him saying that even though it isn’t fun through the learning curve his love for the game is still as strong as it has ever been. And he asked me if there was anything in my life that motivates me and fires me up that much. Brian has had the desire to be a pro baseball player since second grade and worked his whole life to get better to compete there. His determination and discipline amaze me. And I guess naturally he couldn’t understand that not everyone has the desire to dream big and go after it. He always wanted me to have a dream of my own. I’m not a dreamer at all. I take a day at a time. And because I like change so much the thought of one dream is so hard for me to narrow down. (this is all when my view of dreams were tied to career goals, material things…my view has changed, praise Jesus) But I would joke and tell him that the Lord hasn’t given me a dream yet because he knew I would be too busy supporting yours. And I was totally ok with that because to be honest I didn’t think I had what it takes to fulfill a big dream. But this was my very very very sad answer to his question, “shopping”. And I meant it! If I knew I was making a trip to the galleria I couldn’t sleep the night before. I had a list of the stores I was going to hit and the items I was on a hunt for. And to even make this more sad I think, well no i know for sure, that my heart would race as soon as I hit the parking lot. I CANNOT believe I am sharing this. Some may think big deal it’s not like you had a drinking problem, but to me admitting this out loud to Brian was a major low point. Of course he laughed and thought nothing of it because he loves me and the control freak that I was would never spend money we didn’t have so he had no worries. But that was the problem. I worked hard. I paid for everything and saved so I felt 100% justified in shopping. Now there is nothing wrong with shopping. NOTHING!!! Please understand that’s not where my problem was. I still enjoy shopping. The problem was that was where my joy was coming from. I was finding joy and pleasure through things and not Him anymore. And on that day when I said it out loud I got sad. I knew he deserved more! So was I ready to give more? Yes but where do I start? What does that look like? How do I figure it all out? Who do I ask? I had one hundred questions and the questions just made me more sad because I started to realize I did need Him again and that I would probably have to make some changes in my life. And as the thought of changes would pop in my head only selfish thoughts would occur. I am a good person. I like my life. By world standards I am far from selfish and in fact I deserve and earn everything I have.
My desire was starting to return and I slowly tried to make changes in my life, but because I wasn’t spending much time in the bible my changes were changes I thought that might help. I wasn’t allowing the Lord to change me. Some of the changes I made were things like: less drinking (even though I wasn’t by any means a big drinker I decided to put a major limit on myself), I try hard to clean up my mouth, even though I felt like I got very little out of the church on Sunday’s I went in hopes to give back to the Lord, I spent less on myself and gave more than I had ever done before. Now all these changes are great, but I was doing it because I didn’t understand fully the way of our amazing Lord. I thought I had to earn his presence back in my life. I thought I had to make myself lovable in His eyes. But again my heart probably wasn’t attached to the actions. In fact all those changes were very easy to make. And the Lord wanted all of me not just my nice deeds or behavior.
In the course of the next two baseball seasons Brian was traded to San Diego and then to Philly. He made his major league debut with the Phillies on June 1, 2006! OH happy day!!!! I missed it because of work and probably one of my biggest regrets, but none the less he finally fulfilled his dream! Smooth sailing from here…yeah right!!!! Not that easy to be a rookie and last long in Philadelphia. He remained with them for the next couple of seasons and I lost count of how many times he was moved up and down, but with the time he did have in the major leagues we were able to pay off the little bit of debt we had and still managed to have some cushion in our savings. Now I wouldn’t have to continue to work six 10 hour days a week!! But this is when my life was starting to turn upside down.
I was 25 and Brian was 27 at this point and he was ready for me to travel with him again and for us to start a family. I was not!!!!!! I mean totally not on the same page! All I could think was how can he make it sound so easy for me to leave a secure clientele that has paid for everything and I worked so hard to build. His job gave us no security. In fact the only “for sure” in it was there is zero security. And to top it off he wants to bring a child into the mix. Yikes! Overwhelmed to say the least.
Now this is important part of the story at this point that you need to know. I had been very private about my journey with the Lord. So private I am not sure Brian knew much at all about my time in the bible or my prayers and thoughts. It’s not that I was scared to tell him I just didn’t think it was necessary until I had it all understood. And although he was a little more open about his faith than me he by no means was where he is now or where he needed to be. And because I wasn’t traveling with him anymore I wasn’t getting plug into any of the bible studies or chapels that baseball offers, but he was. He was growing in his faith while I was living in a drought of faith. So when he was ready for all this in his life it was coming from the right place. And when I would freak out every time he brought it up, he would just have the same answer. “We just have to trust everything will work out.” I was so far from the right place I wanted to pick something up and knock him into reality, lol! Had he not seen me work my bottom off the past five years of our marriage and now he tells me everything will just work itself out. All I could picture was scary apartments, roommates, and jobs that I never wanted to do again all while raising a child.
This time if I took control of our situation to make it easy and comfortable for me I would be voting against everything my husband desired. And even though I was a selfish control freak I loved my husband with all my heart and wanted to make him happy. But I needed to change me first! Before he hit me with all this I would go to work happy feeling blessed for the job and clients I had. Now I walked in everyday with a heavy heart. How could this blessing be the one thing holding me back from being with my husband? It made my days feel longer. It made my attitude tired and gloomy. And again I realized I was finding my security and joy through a job that provided for us and not on Him. FINALLY my need was big! To be honest I was depressed and thought I was covering it up well. If I wasn’t at work I just wanted to sleep. Brian even asked me one day if I was suicidal. Now he admits that was a little overboard, but he knew I was not myself.
I began to pray again with meaning. I began to search the words of the bible for an answer. I talked to the Lord all day asking the same questions over and over???? What do I do? Is it right to just quiet a job you blessed me with and trust you will continue to provide? How can I have a child when I feel like I am still one? Why aren’t you answering me??? I feel so alone? Then I would feel so guilty for feeling depressed and crying out to him in my pity parties. After al, l I had everything I could possibly need. A loving husband. A roof over my head. A job. And the list could go on and on with things that over half the world goes without. Then while searching through my bible one night I came across a scripture I had highlighted and read hundreds of times when I would pray for my safety and strength. But this time I think the Lord revealed to me the real meaning of it.
Before I thought that whatever my need was I could ask and it was given to me. Kinda like a genie in a bottle..hahaha..not how it works. I was scared for my life and asked for safety and courage and it was given to me, so why wouldn’t I think all I had to do was ask? After all isn’t that what it says here in this scripture? And I never asked for things like, please let me win the lottery or please allow Brian to make it to the big leagues and stay for a long time. I knew those were way too selfish, but I did ask for His presence and His direction. These are great things to ask for, right? So why wasn’t he listening?
When I read these words again it was as if the words SEARCH and KNOCK were written bigger and bolder in my bible. For years I asked, but never really searched or knocked. I understood that these words meant ask, search, knock for Him and His will in your life and He will never deny me!!!!! I felt like I really did just when the lottery because now I knew the “secret”. If I searched for Him above anything and everything else then and only then would I really feel confident that everything would just work itself out! Which lead me to another verse that I had looked at the wrong way.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4
When we truly delight ourselves in the Lord that is when the desires of our heart match up with His perfect plan for our life! Why would give us the desires of our heart if it would only draw us farther from him? This reminds me of when I am always telling the kids no to candy or junk food. Do I wish I could just allow it? Yes! Do I want them to be happy and enjoy every moment of life? Yes! But if I allowed them to eat whatever they wanted it would only cause them harm. Same goes with our loving Father. He knows what is best, I don’t! Do I still whine like my five year old to him? I’m sure he would say way too much!
With my small but more clear vision of what I needed to do I began to read the word of God daily again. Sometimes I understood it and others I did it because I knew it was the only way to Him. And now my questions were followed by actions. My questions were starting to be filled with hope again! “Show me a way to make it work?, I trust your plan, please reveal it to me?” I think I would say things like if you could just please drop a huge sign down I promise I will follow. I promised over and over again that I would not question His lead no matter what I would follow! I just needed to know it was His direction and when was it coming because I was getting impatient. I had finally agreed to start trying to get pregnant. I figured if that happened maybe it would be my sign that I needed to travel again. But it had been at least six months and still not pregnant.
Then one day my signed dropped!! If you have ever experienced this you know it without a doubt! And remember I promised over and over again, so no matter what I was going to have dive in. This is when I decided that the Lord has a very big sense of humor. I just know He had to be giggling when He decided to share with me His path.
I had a client who was a chemical engineer and had two small children very close in age. Most of the time when she came in she would share her heart with me that she hated working so much and not being home with them. I always listened to her and loved her company, but because I was so career driven I never really related. I never ever pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. My mom wasn’t able to stay home with me and I thought it was a good thing for children to be at daycares learning social skills so I really didn’t understand her concern. But then her conversations changed. She started a new career that was going to allow her to work from home and quiet her job soon. She was selling Mary Kay. OK STOP right there! Red flag flew up. I just knew she had lost her mind and she was going to make me lose mine too if she didn’t stop sending me samples and inviting me to all those crazy parties. I remember saying I’m so sorry but I think that’s for old people and I tried it years ago and it freaked my skin out, but I will buy a lip gloss or something to help you out. POOR thing I was such a source of encouragement lol!!!! For some reason she was always up beat and looking better than she ever looked every time she came in. And all I thought was good for her, but still count me out. Six short months later she quiet her high paying job to stay home. Again great for her! Then one day she came to her appointment. I began to color her hair and I’m not even sure if she was even talking about Mary Kay or not, but I busted out laughing. Uncontrollably laughing. She must have thought I was crazy. I remember saying “WOW! God is funny” She was very confused. I knew she was a faithful believer, but I briefly would share my thoughts every now and then. I explained to her that I totally have no desire to, but I think (well I know) I suppose to hear you out on all this Mary Kay stuff. If any of you have meant an excited MK lady you know I just made her day! I said not now because I still need to process this, but I can meet later tonight. I seriously felt like the Lord dropped a huge sign with an arrow that pointed right to her. And I just could not grasp how he thought this was what I needed. I hated the products! Didn’t know anyone who wore them much less did I want to ever sell anything. And I really wasn’t even a skin/makeup type girl. How in the world could this be the answer?
Long story short (because this has already been such a long story) I did it! (BTW i loved the products and still use them lol) I gave it 100% because I promised I would and I just trusted He would bless my work. There is no way I could have accomplished what I did without Him. In fact I’m convinced I had very little to do with it. Everything feel into place. The right people at the right time fell into my life. It was crazy! Six months later I retired from hairstyling and was making more money than before and yes driving our baby girl home from the hospital in a pink caddy. If anyone would have predicted all of this to be apart of my life I would have never ever agreed. But it was the first time I spent enough time with the Lord that I could hear and see what He wanted for me. It was the first time I obeyed His plans! And even though I would have never chosen it for myself, I am so thankful I put myself aside long enough to see what He could do. He blessed me more than I could have ever dreamed through that experience. And yes He allowed financial blessings to happen, but the real gift was the incredible Godly women that were put into my life. I was surrounded my women who picked up their cross daily! I got to not only learn from them, but I finally had people I could confide in. I had someone to ask questions to. I had people who held me accountable to stay strong in my faith. I was finally beginning to rely on Him all the time not just in weakness. I finally had every reason to completely trust in the Lord!
Again at my weakest He came through! I rejoiced in that, but learned many lessons through that very long and dry five years. The main lesson that stands out to me is that I have come to understand the Lord is always ready to help guide my way, but for some reason I only get out of His way when I am at a breaking point.
“for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Corinthians 12:10
I have come to embrace my weakness because they lead me to Him. And my hope from this very long chunk of my story is that you turn to Him for answers in everything. That you are asking, searching, and knocking! And most importantly you don’t let five years go by because your pride told you that you didn’t have anyone to ask. If you have been asking, searching, and knocking and feel like your sign hasn’t dropped yet, just quiet your job and sell Mary Kay. TOTALLY KIDDING!!!!! DO NOT LOSE HEART! His timing is perfect! And He has a very different plan for each and everyone of us. It is never to late or too early to jump on His straight path. You will know when your sign drops if your heart is aligned with the Lord.
My next post I will share my thoughts as to why I think my spiritual low lasted so long and how I have learned to jump out of the trenches way faster!
My prayer for today:
Lord I thank you for your wisdom! Thank you for showing us a way to remove ourselves out of your way! Please “create in us a pure heart, O Lord, and renew a steadfast spirit within us.” Psalm 51:10