I walked down the aisle when I was 18.
No, not that aisle.
The aisle to the front of church because I felt God calling me to full-time ministry.
I went on to be a youth pastor several summers during my college years. I was highly involved in The Wesley Foundation at Texas Tech while I went to school.
I was alone. Free to be all God wanted me to do. Free to be involved in whatever I had time for and even what I didn’t have time for. I loved it!!!
This alone was carefree and trusting God to move.
I got married when I was 24. For a time, we were both involved. Our children grew up and knew what it was like to serve.
But over time, our children’s activities, work, and more work took over our time. I’m not saying it was a bad thing, just a season. We all have seasons, where life happens. Then it stopped. Period.
I was content to not hear the voice of God calling me.
Sitting there, blending in.
Leaving as the closing prayer got started.
There came a point when I was 48, I was ready to jump back in. Wanting to be obedient and yet trying to balance what was going on at home and my desire to get plugged in.
Aching for connection.
Longing to make a difference.
Knowing God was pulling hard.
You have probably been there. May be there now.
At the time I was going to therapy. Yes, I still go, but not as often.
I was holding back. Waiting on permission. Conflicted.
I told my counselor this. Told him flat out, God was leading me to lead a life group.
He asked me why I hadn’t done it yet. I told him I was waiting. He asked me on what.
I just looked at him. Didn’t know how to answer.
He looked and me and said, “ Toni, if you need permission, I’m giving you permission to lead a group! You are quite capable.”
You need to know I sat there stunned! I didn’t have to have to wait? I could go and do this?
For some reason, I believed you had to lead together. I literally carried the weight of guilt and shame around like a badge. Guilt in the fact, I would be doing something that didn’t involve my family. Shame in that, I was not qualified or know enough to do it. Shame for leaving my family a couple of hours a week to step out and just do it.
Shame for doing it alone. It’s hard.
There was guilt and shame because I didn’t believe for one second God could use me at all. I walked around with this garment of shame and unworthiness draped on me like a toga.
This is the other alone.
The one you go and do what God has called you to do in the midst of all your mess. He’s not using you for the people in your life, He’s doing it for you.
This other alone requires you to lean in and trust Jesus.
When He has set His sights on you, you cannot run or hide forever.
This other alone requires you to tell all the miracles you see happening in your life to Him.
This other alone asks you to you to meet His eyes. He is there. He hears. He wants to see you in action. He wants to see you obedient.
I find myself back in the aloneness of being single.
Could I still be used in ministry? I’ve had such major doubt and fear about this. Walked in it and believed it.
I thankfully, have surrounded myself with godly people who for reasons I cannot understand, believe in me. It’s humbling. It’s rare. This unconditional love to walk me through this and know God has called me to something bigger than myself. Something only He can do.
I’m amazed how He drops people in your life. Unexpectedly!
These two sides of alone are really just one. They merge together and try to get you to believe you are nothing. Can do nothing. This is because being alone cannot be fruitful. Belief you have no worth.
The truth is, God will use you despite your mess.
Even when my heart struggles.
Even when I’m not perfect. Even when I say things I shouldn’t. Even when I doubt. Or fear. Or worry. Or sad. Or if I don’t have it all together. (I mean it, really, who has it all together?)
My worth is not measured by anything but that cross He died on.
I’m learning this. A theme. For over a year now. God is showing me daily in my head and heart. I’m grateful He is gentle with this hard head of mine. I’m so thankful He doesn’t shake the sand from His feet and say ok, this one is hopeless and walks away!
No! I’m worth it! There I said it. Not sure how much belief there is in typing it, but today, I’m going to walk in it.
Not try. Walk.
I’ve been wading back in for the past year. I had no confidence and belief that I could do this.
Some days are quite shaky.
Some days, it flows as if I’ve been made for this.
I’m still negotiating and investigating what lies ahead.
Slowly plugging in. It feeds me. Nourishes me. Breathes life into me.
Made these dry bones come together and be alive again.
I sense you may have been down this road or like me are just trying to find your way.
The one thing I do know without hesitation is wherever you find yourself, God has put that desire in you.
You have permission to go. To do. To be obedient.
He’s not asking you to sacrifice your family.
He’s asking you to lead where you are gifted.
Where you find delight.
Where you need life again.
Just a few weeks ago I walked down the aisle again. No, not that one.
Our Pastor during a worship night, asked those called to full time ministry to come to the front and be prayed over.
I’ve known it and knew it, so I went.
It truly is as Scripture says, “God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” Romans 11.29
Same call at 18 and 51. You do the math.
Regardless of the alone you find yourself in.
Go. It hasn’t changed. It’s never too late to start.
I’ve been on both sides.