I think learning all of that about myself was really an important foundation. I think it was the main thing I needed to "get" before the rest of the weekend could happen. I had to let go of my prejudices in order to be open to what was in store for me.
One of the biggest and most amazing lessons I learned this weekend was that if God gives me a nudge, I'd better listen. Because the nudges will get more and more persistent.
I will share what I can about this experience. I will tell you that some would say that this was just my subconscious, this was coincidence, this was kismet. And if you prefer to define it that way, go right ahead. I'm just going to share it as I experienced it and you are welcome to take from it what you'd like.
In a passing sort of way, another woman attending this event shared something personal with the group. I'm going to call this woman Mary. Mary shared simply that she needed to let go of anger at her father for hurting her.
Hours go by. That night, I hear a clear call from God. I need to talk to Mary. I was broken as a child and fought long and hard to become healthy and whole and joyful and free. Go talk to Mary.
My response? Really? I don't even know what kind of hurt... but, OK, I will. But not right now. Everyone is going to bed.
The next morning. Loud and clear. Go talk to Mary. My response? I will! Just not right this second- it's breakfast time and I really want this time with my friends.
Later in the day, I hear it loud and clear again. I really need you to talk to Mary. I have to admit that I was almost getting annoyed at this point. My response? I said I will and I will. I'm just waiting for the time to be right. (Because, you know, God always works on our timeframe.)
That afternoon, my friends and I had a break and decided to bundle up and take a walk. We head upstairs to get our shoes and sweaters and jackets from the bedroom area. I don't have a good spot to sit down so I say that I'm going out to the main room to put on my shoes. This is a room with couches and you have to pass through this area to get to the dorm area.
I sit down and put on one shoe. And there's that voice again. I told you that I really need you to talk to Mary. You have an important message for her.
My response? I kinda sorta.. well... I selfishly wanted to go on my walk. I wanted to talk to my friends about what we'd experienced so far that day.
I challenged God.
I really don't normally do this. I really am usually good about listening to those nudges and doing what is asked- even when I don't have a clue why. And sometimes I end up knowing the purpose and sometimes I don't and I'm totally fine with that.
I challenged Him by saying- Fine. You want me to talk to Mary? Have her walk through that door right now. Then I'll talk to her.
You know what comes next, right?
I hear the door open. I'm still bent over my shoe at this point. I shut my eyes and laughed in my head. There's no possible way that the person walking through is going to be...
And she's alone. And there is no one around. Just me and her in this room and plenty of space on the couch next to me.
So I tell her that I need to talk to her, that I have a message from her. And I tell her about the nudges and her walking through the door at that moment and... we begin to talk.
I can't share all the details because they aren't mine to share. But this is what I will tell you... there was something in my words that was just for her. We cried together, we hugged.
One thing that I know Mary shared with me was that I was the first survivor she'd met with a story similar to her own that was... normal.
One thing I know was that Mary needed to hear someone say that it's ok not to forgive and that forgiveness isn't something you just choose and move on.
And one other thing that I think was important was being able to say that you don't have to let go of the anger and the hurt all at once and you don't have to do it right now- it's when you're ready and you can do it in small pieces and chunks.
I told her that if she needed me any other time over the weekend, to please seek me out. Even if it was just to get a hug from someone who "knows."
We didn't talk again. On the final day as goodbyes were being said and final thoughts were being shared, we did have a beautiful and intense moment together that I will treasure for a long time- just as I treasure the talk we did have on that couch in that room when God opened that door.
We are staying in touch with each other. I don't know what all God has in store for her and for me and what all we will learn from one another. I don't know if there is a big future or if what needed to be done was done. And I don't need to know. I (eventually) did what I was called to do and I know it served a purpose.
What blew my mind and left me a bit numb was when I learned that our experience may have played a part in someone else's story. I'm not part of that story in any way but there is circumstantial evidence of the ripple effect happening.
One of my big lessons in my Walk was this huge and powerful reminder to listen to the nudges. If I tune them out, how can I possibly be the hands and feet of Christ? Loving others and putting that love into action is far more than just making a list of good deeds to accomplish. It's not a checklist of "OK, I donated to the food pantry so I fed the poor and I went on a mission trip so I cared for the world and I wrote a check to whatever organization so I was generous and I didn't flip off that bad driver so I showed mercy." I had a huge wake up call a few years back to the importance of doing what is asked and not just doing what seems to be the "Christian thing" to do. When I'm listening and doing what is asked, I get pushed way outside of my comfort zone 95% of the time. When it's His plan and not mine, I often find myself shaking my head and wondering where this next step is going to take me. When I am fulfilling what I know to be His call, I end up overwhelmed by His power and consumed with His love.
Trust and obey
for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus
than to trust and obey
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.