One week later on March the 2nd at 9:00 in the morning I pulled into the parking lot for Coordinated Charities of Athens TN. I called Mom to let her know I had arrived then, after I hung up, sat in the car for a moment thinking everything through.
Why am I here?
"Prove to ME you love ME"
Okay God, here it goes.
I didn't want to be there. I wasn't even for sure I belonged there. But God asked me to do something for HIM, just because I loved HIM, so thus I was there. As mentioned before I was suppose to work from 9 to 12.
I worked 'till 2.
I helped pay the IRS and checked the numbers on the 200 ledgers given to me.
I hate numbers.
The room was chilly and I worked by myself for half of it.
I hated being alone. I panicked when I was alone.
I left there happy. Happy! Even though I spent the day doing something I didn't like, and wasn't very good at, I enjoyed myself and promised to come back. Was I crazy? Maybe. But all I knew was that for the first time in years I felt like I had a purpose, a calling, and I was fulfilling it.
The story doesn't end there folks. The best part is yet to come!
The third time I was up there Kevin and I were taking our lunch break together. He had mentioned before on my first day that he was trying to make some changes that would put the focus back on GOD and make the place more obvious to people that they were a Christian based organization. So I asked how it was going for him. Sighing, Kevin dropped his arm and said:
"Honestly Susan, I'm worn out."
Then he just begins to unload on me. Not the my-life-stinks-and-I-need-someone-to-complain-to kind of unloading but the I-really-just-need-to-talk-to-someone-who-understands kind of unloading. Kevin had a staff meeting about a week before where he had presented this vision to the full time employees. I won't tell you everything that happen but know that the next week was very stressful for Kevin and he was still feeling pretty low when I talked to him.
The whole time he's talking I'm about to jump out of my seat with excitement! Why? Because everything was suddenly so clear now! Let me explain what I mean by going back to our disease metaphor.
The reason the symptoms of a disease show up is because your body can no longer harbor a disease so it gives you physical signs to show that something is wrong and something must be done about it! Without knowing it I had become discontented with where my life was at and my spiritual self was begging for a change. If I was completely honest with you I would have to admit I hated my life. I felt completely useless and unloved. I knew there was something better but I didn't know what it is and just like in medicines
You can't cure an illness unless you know what's causing it.
I had to come to the fact that I was selfish before I could begin treatment. So what was it that finally cured me?
Was it something my mom gave me to help calm my nerves?
Did Kevin somehow make me feel better about myself?
Did my circumstances get better?
I began to get better when I stopped trying to make life revolve around me and the way I thought it should be, and let GOD control my life. I let The Author of Life write my story the way HE wanted it to be and stopped trying to take back control of it.
All the pieces began to fall into place. I became so sick because GOD needed to get me to the point where I was willing to finally listen to the plan HE had for my life. I needed to see just how selfish I had become so GOD could change me into the person HE made me to be. And the worst part of it all was that I had to come to the realization that I had been boxing GOD in instead of letting HIM just be GOD. The moment I stopped trying to get my life to work the way I wanted it to be and started letting GOD be GOD I stopped surviving and began living!
It was no coincidence that Kevin just happen to stop by that day and that the conversation just happened to turn to his job. No coincidence that Mom got to the breaking point that finally pushed me to do something about my situation. All this that Kevin had just told me about just happened to occur around the time I began working there. There were no coincidences, everything happened just the way it needed to happen.
All to bring me to the point where I realized, not just how much I needed a Savior, but how much others do as well.
Right then GOD was pointing at Kevin and saying to me:
"Serve others. I need you to be a physical picture of ME to him so I can remind him that I still care. And not just him, but everyone else in your life. Be who I made you to be and show others that I love them so much that I don't care what they're going through or who they are I just want them. Show how crazy in love I am with them by being the person I made you to be. Love people when it's hard, fight for them when they can't, and I will be with you forever.
Because I'm that crazy about you."
I can't even begin to describe to you the joy I felt in that moment. The peace and certainty that GOD really did have everything under control. That HE hadn't forgotten about me or the plans HE had for me before I was even born was just amazing! Even as I type this I feel tears come to my eyes as I think about just how much my GOD Loves me. That HE would plan all this out to show just how much HE values my life and that HE wants me to be a part of HIS Great Story is overwhelming. Right down to the details GOD had brought me to this moment in this small back room somewhere in east TN and this not only was for me, but it affected others too.
So that's where I am now. Did my life get easier?
Did it change?
I still have just as many problems now as I did before all this happen. There are still days that I wonder if this is all just a dream and one day it's all going to come crashing down. I'm still waiting for the big storm to hit because I know (because I have experienced before in my life) that once you start running after GOD Satan will do anything and everything to stop you. But there is one thing that he can not, and will not ever take away from me:
I now know that "...all things work together for good to them that love the LORD. To them who are called according to HIS purpose." (Romans 8:28). That HE really does love me and has not forgotten me. I may be temporarily distracted from that fact but all I have to do is look around me and the evidence is clear. From the car I've been loaned for the summer, to the check I just received for a sewing job I've been working for months on. I am being taken care of by Someone Who not only knows the story of time, but Who wrote it HIMSELF!
Life is not perfect. I have not been "cured" from my illness but by GOD's grace
I am being made new everyday.
I still have days I doubt and am discontent with my life. I have grown to hate my bed because it means every morning I wake up to roll over and not see someone there who's going to share all of life with me. I'm going to have to say goodbye at the end of summer to two boys I've watched since they were 3 months old and look for a new job. I sometimes fear I may no longer be able to afford to make an hour and a half trip to Athens every week. But GOD isn't through. He's still writing my story and has proven my whole life that I can trust HIM with my future.
And that's exactly what I'm going to do.
P.S. It has been about 4 months since my last panic attack! I even had to look back on the calendar to try to figure out how long it had been because I had forgotten! My birthday this year fell on a Thursday, I know I was sick that Friday and was fine by the next Monday. So somewhere over the weekend was when I started to feel better. GOD was waiting to heal me of my selfishness and just needed me to see HIS plan to move past myself and to serve others. Just saying I serve a mighty GOD who not only is powerful, but is good.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?...
...If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there...
...Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
Psalms 139: 7-12
Now it was the end of February and once again I found myself on the bathroom floor fighting yet another panic attack. Even though I was still having them they had become easier to control. But today I was tried of fighting and had slunk back into my whoa-is-me stage. Crying I, for the hundredth time, complained to mom how horrible my life was, forgetting that by GOD's Grace I had yet to throw up in my most recent attacks (which had become almost a given anytime I had one). We began to discuss new ways I could use my life to benefit others instead of focusing on myself and how pathetic I was being. Eventually the subject of finding a mission organization came back up again. Mom had suggested that I find some local charity organization to volunteer at maybe one day a week so I could be back in the "mission field" and get a break from my everyday mundane life.
Suddenly mom goes "You should call Kevin and see if you could volunteer at that charity he runs."
Let me back up a minute and explain who exactly Kevin is and how he plays into this story.
Kevin worked for my dad one summer back when Daddy was camp director of a local camp. He (Kevin) lives about an hour away from my family in Riceville TN, and has (somewhat) kept in contact with us over the past eight years.
One evening back in December of last year Kevin randomly called my dad and said that he was in the neighborhood and wanted to know if he could stop by to say hello. Turns out we weren't doing anything that night and since we hadn't seen Kevin in a few years Daddy told him to come on over. While he was visiting Kevin began telling daddy of a charity organization he had become executive director over and all the cool things happening up there. Honesty I didn't think much about it until much later when mom suggested I try contacting him to see if I could help him out.
Now here I was a few months later and mom was trying yet again to get me to call him. Like Moses I gave every excuse imaginable:
"Mom he probably doesn't want to put up with me. It's been 8 years and I really don't remember Kevin that much."
"The drive is 45 minutes both ways! I can't afford that kind of travel!"
"There are probably several volunteers working up there. Kevin doesn't need me. I'll just be in the way."
Finally mom says "Well if your not going to call I will! I'm tired of seeing you in this state. You have to get up and do something or I will."
Outmatched, I caved in and called.
I can still remember the conversation we had on the phone. I called the number Daddy (um... God) gave me and listened to the phone ring on the other end of the line.
Maybe he won't pick up I thought maybe he's really busy and will miss my call...
"Hello this is Kevin, how can I help you?"
"Umm... Hi Kevin! This is Susan."
"Oh hey Susan! What's up?"
So I briefly explained why I called leaving out a few details (like the panic attacks for example).
"Okay, sounds cool." He said "How many hours are you needing to get in for whatever project your working on? Is this for something with 4H?"
"Um... no. I don't need any hours. I'm just doing this just to do it"
"Uh... okay... What do you mean?"
"Well right now in my life I feel like my biggest asset is my time. I don't make that much money so this is kind of like my offering to God. I want to give back part of the time He's given me in this season of my life by doing something for Him and not for myself. Do you see what I mean?"
Do I really need to explain further or can you just take it at that and give me the job?
"Oh. Okay. I see what you mean there. So how long are you planning on doing this?"
"Until God moves me."
"Alright, cool. Um, what days can you work?"
We decided on Monday from 9 to 12. I remember after I hung up the phone I stared at the wall for a while wondering what in the world I just did. Did I seriously just commit to this or is there still time to back out? I wondered. Why in the world was I so against doing this anyway?
(TO BE CONTINUED)
*Note: Because this story is so long I've decided to divide it up into 3 parts.
Please bear with me because it is a story worth telling*
Do you know how a disease starts? A disease does not start the day you wake up sick, no, a disease starts long before then. You get it days, sometimes weeks, earlier and it varies how you actually catch it.
Maybe you forgot to wash you hands after touching something.
Maybe you breathed it in.
Maybe you caught it from someone.
Then after it enters your body it stays there for a while slowly taking over until every part of you is affected. You can get a disease many different ways but the point is:
You don't know you have it until the symptoms start showing.
That's exactly what happened to me last winter. I was dangerously sick and didn't even know it. What was wrong with me? Well, before I tell you that I need to explain how I found out that I had this illness.
Back in about early November lots of different things began happening in my life that I believe brought me to the point that this disease could no longer remain unnoticed:
- My brother was about to graduate from high school and he knew exactly what it was that GOD wanted him to do with his life (unlike me who found out, no lie, one week before my graduation).
- I was 4 months away from my 20th birthday and still living at home.
- In the past 2 years I had completed only 1 of the online sewing classes for which I had signed up.
- My sewing business was not where I wanted it to be at this point.
- and prince charming had not shown up. All I ever wanted to do, since I was little girl, was to be a godly wife and mother. I felt like that was my life's calling but apparently that was not to be at the moment. Either that or God had forgotten a very important key element to my plan.
I began to feel depressed and fearful. What if God had forgotten about the plans He had for me? I thought. What if I'm not relevant to His Story? Don't get me wrong, I knew GOD loved me; I just began to wonder if I didn't have a part to play in the big scheme of life. I became dissatisfied and started having this feeling of anxiety all the time that caused me to have trouble eating. Then one of my biggest fears came to past:
I began having panic attacks.
My family has a history of panic attacks with the females on my mom's side. I, of course, thought they would never happen to me but secretly I feared that one day I would have them too. That day had come and I was terrified. They quickly grew until I could no longer control them. Every aspect of my life was affected to the point where my whole day was determined by how sick I was in the morning. I even missed out on most of my extended family's Thanksgiving gathering because I was so messed up.
But the point when I realized that this could go on no more was the week of my birthday. I threw up for 5 straight days and made my family, and myself, miserable. That's when I knew everything had to stop.
I thought I was just worried about my future and at my cousin's suggestion began looking up scriptures about how GOD is bigger than any obstacle. I prayed, I tried eating better, I read and re-read these verses every morning regardless if I felt like I needed them or not. But nothing had seemed to work.
One night I was praying and by praying I mean I was whining about how terrible my life was and how God needed to fix it. After a while I began to get sleepy so I ended my complaints with,
"Okay, goodnight God. I love you."
That got my attention. Prove it? What do you mean God? I gave my heart to you when I was ten, I try to live a life pleasing to you, obey your word, what do you mean prove it?
"Show me you love me"
Then He brought to my mind all the many times my mom has asked my daddy to prove that he loved her. Did she not know that daddy loved her? Yes she did. But she likes it when daddy proves it to her by giving her flowers, taking her out, or simply helping her around the house.
"Okay God, how do you want me to prove that I love you?"
The answer didn't come straight away but after searching and geniunely seeking God I finally got it.
"Start by serving others"
So I began by looking for ways to show God that I loved Him in my everyday life. I started not only reading The Bible, but studying it. I started trying to treat my family the way I wanted to be treated. I stopped simply watching the kids I babysat but tried to find ways to spend time with them that benefited them and not just put up with them on the days I was tired.
But like always, Satan doesn't give up too easily when he has a hold on our lives. I continued to be sick.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Sorry it's been so long since I last posted something. Life has been kinda busy but more so I've been trying to get my priorities straight and focus my time on more important things (aka, spend more time sewing rather than blogging :). So can't promise that I'll be posting more now, (I would like to get back to it though) but I thought I'd write a quick catch-up on my life for those of you still following this little blog of mine :).
- I've made a few things that I hope to get posts about up soon. As soon as I get pictures taken that is :)
- I've started volunteering at a "local" charity organization on Mondays. It's a thrift store, food bank, and a financial aid office all wrapped up into one building; but I mostly work in the thrift store part. The story about how I got there is pretty amazing and I plan on sharing it with you guys in a later post.
- I've got a new car! Somewhat. Okay, it's not really my car, my grandparents are in Alaska this summer on a mission trip so my family and I are taking car of my Mamaw's car while they're away. Between babysitting and volunteer work that car gets used pretty regularly by me so thus I have gone to call it "my car". Needless to say I've been pretty spoiled by it and I'm not sure I want to give it back...
- Speaking of babysitting, my time with the twins is almost up which means I'll be looking for a new job! Still praying and looking for one that would allow me to continue my sewing business. I'd appreciate it if you all would remember me in your prayers on this.
So life goes on! I'll try to remember all of you as I go through my journey and keep you updated on my life as best I can,
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