Monday, May 11, 2009

A Long Time Coming

This post has needed to be written for a long time now.  I’ve started it a couple of times, only to erase it all because I just couldn’t find the words to finish it.  I’ve gone over and over what to say and how to say it, and I haven’t sensed any divine revelation, so I’m just going to wing it here. 

You see, God has begun a mighty change in me and I find that for every step forward in faith, I take two steps back with fear and insecurity.   I am embarrassed to write this post, to some degree, because I have to share a message that God has been trying to smack into me for quite some time.  Okay, just being honest here, it’s been years that He’s been trying to break through to me in this area. 

A couple of months ago, unbeknownst to me, a friend and fellow staff wife got a little bug up her sleeve to have a surprise for me at our Women’s Retreat.  Many of you wrote wonderful and beautiful cards to me and, embarrassingly, gave of your hard earned money towards a gift for me – me of all people! 

The last day of the retreat, my friend, Tricia, called me up to the front.  I had no idea as to why she was calling me up there, and she proceeded to say some things that I can’t quite remember.  (When I am standing in front of a group of grown ups, I usually have a sort of “out of body” experience because I am so embarrassed and insecure to be there).

The gift of the cards was such a sweet and unexpected surprise, and I was touched that so many women would make the time to write me a card.  I was full to over-flowing with the love that I felt in the gift of those cards. 

But then……Tricia proceeded to say something that my simple mind didn’t have a category for, and I didn’t even understand what she was saying at first.  She told me that the women, along with their cards, had given money, towards a gift for me. 

I simply cannot find the words to say how totally embarrassed I was that anyone would give in these difficult financial times towards a gift for me.  I certainly haven’t “earned” it, I certainly don’t “deserve” it, and I certainly can’t believe it.  I must have looked so silly in that moment because I truly did not understand what Tricia was trying to tell me.

Long story not so short, Tricia told me that there had been enough money to buy the club chairs that we had picked out when we had bought our sofa two years ago!  I KNOW!  What is up with that?

Well, after mumbling something (probably not at all intelligible), I headed back to my seat with the treasured box of cards in my hands.  As I sat down, I was engulfed in the hugs of the two women sitting on either side of me, and in that moment…….something broke.  I felt a love wash over me like a tidal wave and I “heard” the voice of the Lord speaking straight to the depths of my soul.

Now, there have been two times in my life that I clearly sensed God speaking straight to my heart in a way that was all but audible.  In both of those times, I can tell you word-for-word what God spoke to my spirit because it was so vivid, real, and true.  This time was no different; I remember word-for-word (it’s all but etched in my heart) what God said to me. 

I’m a little hesitant to share what I heard because, well, I’m sure God speaks to you all in grand and eloquent ways, and me?   Not so much. 

Anyway, as I sat enveloped in the hugs of those two women and overwhelmed with the love that those cards represented, as clearly as anything, I heard these words, “Gena, it’s time to put your big girl panties on and step over all those danged insecurities you have hidden behind for so long.”

Yep. That’s it.  That’s what I heard.  To be fair, I also heard, “You can do all I’ve called you to do, and you can trust in this love.” 

God gave me no grand discourse on His immutability, or why He sent his son, Jesus Christ, as propitiation for my sin, or His transcendent nature.  Nope.  None of that; just “Put your big girl panties on.” 

I don’t mean to be flippant at all about the reality of the Lord speaking to me.  I really don’t, but I simply can’t rephrase what I heard because that’s what I heard.

And you know how God has to say some things over and over for us to get it?  Well, believe it or not, I recently attended a one-day conference with two speakers, and both, BOTH, women used that exact same phrase at one point during the day in their talks.  I mean, what are the odds of that? 

Well, those words have come back to me over and over again since the retreat and I continue to pray that I can truly accept what He told me.  I desire to stay on the other side of my “danged” insecurities that I all to often willingly and fearfully hide behind.  I want to trust in the love of those God has so graciously and wonderfully placed in my life.  And, I want to feel free to release the deep, honest-to-goodness love that I have for others in our church.

Anyway, as I came home from the retreat to read all of those sweet and heartfelt cards, I was again amazed at the gifts God has given me in the women of our church.  I will always keep that box of cards, and I will reread them every so often (especially on days when I wonder if I can do anything right!).  I don’t deserve the love that was expressed in those cards, but you all gave it anyway.  Do you even know how humbling that is?

And on top of that most precious gift, you all gave me some chairs. CHAIRS!  I couldn’t believe it, and guess what?  They are here!  You all need to come over to see them and rest your little hienies in them!  I like them just as much as I did two years ago; they match our sofa so well! And when I sit in them, I am amazed at the gift of love that they represent to me.

Yes, it took me until the chairs got here to post this because I’ve been embarrassed at your overly gracious and generous gift.  I mean, how do you accept something like that?  And yet, I am afraid that my inability to say thank you earlier might have been seen as being ungrateful. That wasn’t it at all!  In fact, it was just the opposite; I was so grateful for the undeserved gift that I found it hard to accept.  Why you all would bless me that way, I don’t know, but I want to let you know how very much I appreciate the gift and the love in which it was given.  

So there you have it, a long overdue and heartfelt THANK YOU to you all who have dared to love me and bless me.  I can only pray that I will be faithful with those gifts and that I will turn around and pour those gifts out to others.  I love you and thank you with all that I am.


Joanne Reese said...

Wonderful post Gena! I appreciate your willingness to share those precious words from the Lord with the rest of us. (Yes, phrases with panties in them are still sacred and precious.) Your testimony strengthens us as a whole.

Love you so. - Joy

Kelly Rae said...

Thank you for sharing. I only wish I could have been a part of this. You are a wonderful friend to many and I am so glad that they were given a chance to show you how important you are to us. You are truly special and now I know I'm not the only one who needs to put on the big girl panties!