It's difficult to put your life story in print for a few reasons. First of all you make yourself incredibly vulnerable which isn't my strong suite. Which is probably why I feel "compelled" to do this. Secondly it's entirely possible to hurt someone's feelings without meaning to. So when I say I had "no friends" I did have one. My friend Tracy and I have been friends since we were 6 and in Mrs. Greer's first grade class. We still keep in touch and we were in at least two of each other's weddings. We were in completely different spots in our lives though at this point though. I was divorced already by the time she was getting married (to her ghetto prince charming) and she was expecting their first child. Domestic bliss wasn't even a blip on my radar though and so our lives were taking different paths but we still kept in touch.
About a month after I decided "OK God let's do this" I was at church and during a prayer time I knew that God was calling me to ministry. I'd never felt "called" to ministry in my life- ever- and this was the first time that I was going to have to trust God for something huge. How so?, you may ask. Well, I was born and raised in a pentecostal denomination that not only frowned on divorce but it really was the unpardonable sin. That any pastor would hire me as a single, divorced Mom would be a miracle but I would be instantly disqualified for ministry if I ever remarried. Unless I made a trek to "mecca" (the "affectionate" term for General Headquarters) and rehashed my life story and "proved" that my ex had been unfaithful to a group of church leaders that I didn't know. I didn't plan on doing that then and I don't plan on it now. I'd already experienced a less than embracing welcome from Southeastern in form of a letter I got in my mailbox soon after school started which said (in a nutshell) "we're glad you're here but your divorced so don't date anybody". Of course I fully intended to ignore their stipulation and I did. Thankfully they didn't have campus security following me around.
I planned on studying Psychology. I really enjoyed it and I couldn't think of anything else that Southeastern offered that I'd be interested in doing for the rest of my life. Then I got more involved in the worship team at church and by the summer I knew that music was what I should study. Which is crazy because it's the *one* major in which you really should know what you're doing *before* you start studying it. Then I found out there was Music Theory, Sight Singing, voice lessons that not only included but focused on singing in foreign languages. Needless to say I was completely overwhelmed and considered quitting. My first voice teacher wouldn't play the melody of a song for you to know what it sounded like. The assumption was that you could read music and would just "get it". But I could barely read music and really struggled through that semester. But she was a great mentor and seemed to love me and totally understood my situation with Amanda because her Mom had been a single Mom.
But I started to find my place. God put some peers in my life that were amazing, Godly people that were my age and would act as friends/mentors/sounding boards/encouragers and just great people that not only accepted me but loved me. So we journeyed on together. I was still closed off emotionally and I didn't know how to accept their love but it did make a huge difference in my life. I started having fun. I had quite a few friends that I talked to and did things with on a regular basis. I took trips out of state and just started experiencing a life that I had never known before. All the while I was studying, working, and being Amanda's Mom. I got really tired at times but my mantra was "do what's hard". I had no room in my life for failure and I certainly wasn't going to be scared of anything. I made myself do things by myself like eat at a restaurant or go to the mall. That might not be a big deal for some people but for me just a couple of years prior to that I was terrified to go to the mall even when I was with people. Any time I heard girls laughing I thought they were laughing at me and I "knew" that everyone there knew that I didn't belong there. I don't' know that I felt comfortable or more accepted but I did it anyway- you know the whole "not letting fear stop me"thing.
And then there was chapel. A lot of people at Southeastern hated it and didn't think that we should have to go but for me it was my oasis. The worship was unlike anything I'd experienced (the "new" worship songs that I was learning at my church were 15 years old at that point, who knew?) before. They may not have been on the "cutting edge" but they were close. I was mostly student led and it's hard to rival the passion of a college student that's sold out to Christ. The Holy Spirit did more digging but I also had dreams. Dreams of what I wanted to do for Christ and what I wanted my ministry to be about. I knew I couldn't be on staff at a church but that was fine with me because I didn't want to sit in a stuffy old office preparing Christmas Cantatas anyway. We'd hear speakers challenge us to "dream a dream that only God can do" and I didn't have any trouble with that. My dreams were huge but *any* dream I had only God could pull off because for everyone that encouraged me in ministry I'd hear someone else say "no pastor would ever hire you". The one that stands out in my mind the most was one of my professors. We had become friends and I know that she was just trying to be the voice of reason in my life. After all I had a daughter to provide for. What she told me was that I should get a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies because I didn't have the "chops" for music (the voice for it) and no pastor would ever hire me. I don't hold that against her because she was being real and was trying to give me guidance. You can't expect people to see your dreams. It doesn't matter if you tell them because you can never effectively convey what it is that God has put in your heart. And if you're dreaming a God sized dream they won't believe it. They can't because God (most likely) hasn't put it in their heart to do so. And I don't have the "chops" to sing opera. But God hasn't called me to sing opera...
1 Peter 1:3 says, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness". Meaning that before I was even born God had placed inside me all the talent, smarts, heart, etc. that I would need to accomplish his purpose for me. And he gave me everything that I need to live a godly life through Christ's death and resurrection. I know that my talent has limitations but they're not limitations to God.