By: Grace Smith |
Sobs shook my entire body. I felt too weak to stand, so I slid down in a corner of my room, and wrapped my arms around my knees and put my head down. I knew the kids were out in the living room, so I didn’t let it all out crying, but I moaned as I thought of the devastating words. You might think I had just heard that my mother had passed away or something, but no, it was words from some leaders in my life that had me feeling such despair. “Not adequate.” The words kept echoing through my head. I was three days away from being the lead speaker for a women’s retreat with our ministry. My husband had just returned from another meeting with our leaders, and he shared that they said I was good with kids, but that was all. I felt like such a complete failure. I had helped start this ministry 14 years before-even cutting down the trees to clear the land, and I had been leading these women’s retreats for 4 years.
The past months had been stressful with these leaders investigating many areas of our ministry. We had done the research that was asked of us and my husband and I were grateful that the areas in question had been handled according to industry standards. I recognized that with my strong leadership personality, I had areas I needed to grow in, but I also knew that every time during our intense summer of ministry that God had convicted me that I had not cared for the hearts of my team, that I had gone to them and apologized. I was listening to leadership coaching that I found online, and I was excited to learn more tools. Despite the evidence we had presented to our leaders about how we had managed the ministry, there had continued to be more meetings, and some of them we were not invited to. Every time I learned of another meeting, I had to do battle in my mind. When I prayed, the faces of those making accusations would come to mind and I would choose daily to forgive and pray for God’s blessing on them.
That night, as I let the sobs overtake me, it was like I was in the middle of WW2 in my mind. Thoughts about how I had so messed up that I was going to be replaced, about how I had let my husband and family down. Thoughts about how disappointed the women would be when I called to cancel the retreat because I was unable to lead, and about how I felt judged by a group of people that had never attended one of the women’s retreats to observe how I led. I felt rejected and shamed. I was not enough.
My phone buzzed, and I saw it was my mentor calling. I had texted her to ask her to pray for me. I was crying too hard to talk, but I did accept the call, and I knew she could hear me crying. I tried to respond to her greeting, but I couldn’t. So she just started to talk. “Grace, I know these words cut deep. I don’t understand why this is happening, and I know you acknowledge you have areas to grow in. Most of all, I know God is going to use you this weekend to lead.” She began to remind me of all the women who had encountered God on previous retreats. She reminded me that God had called me to be a warrior, and that I could get back up and move forward in His calling. She reminded me that this was a spiritual battle to stop the retreat from happening so women’s lives wouldn’t be changed.
I looked down at my right wrist. The fresh tattoo was still healing, but I couldn’t scrape the words off. The week before, while doing battle in my mind over other recent accusations I had seen in an email, and wanting to declare God’s truth, I had gotten “WARRIOR” tattooed on my wrist. Now I felt mad at myself for making such a bold declaration, but as my mentor spoke God’s truth in my ear, I looked down at my wrist and knew it was Him speaking to me. There was no one else who could lead the retreat. God didn’t want me to cancel it- the enemy, Satan, was doing everything he could to stop me. And he knew just where to attack me so that I would give up.
I am so grateful that months earlier, when the meetings and accusations had started, that I had reached out to this godly women, and asked her to speak into my life. I wanted to grow. I didn’t want to defend myself and throw off valid concerns, so I invited her to speak truth to me and ask me hard questions. I knew she was in tune with God’s voice, and my heart’s cry was to be clay- like playdough. Moldable. I also knew that God had called me to this ministry and I was shaken up when everything was being challenged. I honestly don’t know where I would be today if that woman of God had not called me that night and spoken God’s truth to my bleeding heart. I remember pushing myself up off the floor, while staring at my wrist, and going out to my husband. “She said I can do the retreat. She said God’s called me. I can’t quit. I will do my very best, and I will keep learning and growing.” He looked at me and said, “Grace, she is right. I want you to lead the retreat. God is going to use this experience for good.”
I dug out my sword (my Bible). I picked up my notes for the retreat. The verse I had chosen as our theme hit me right in the head, “God gives me strength for the battle. He keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He causes me to stand on the highest places. He trains my hands to fight every battle. My arms can bend a bow of bronze. Lord, you are like a shield that keeps me safe. Your strong right hand keeps me going. Your help has made me great.” Psalm 18:32-35 Wow. Tears fell again, this time because only my Father God could have planned that I would teach from this verse after the events of this week.
I began searching in Bible Gateway for more verses about warriors. I found Jeremiah 20:11 “But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior. Before Him my persecutors will stumble. They cannot defeat me.” The next few days were crazy. I had lost momentum and time when my heart was so heavy, and I had to work like crazy to be ready for the ladies to come. I had already planned on a “Wonder Woman” theme, so I went all out and decorated our meeting area. I got poster boards so the women could create dream boards during the retreat. I was not going to be defeated. This was going to be the best retreat ever. In the end, all my planning and preparation was nothing to what my God did.
The retreat went by in a whirl, but on Sunday morning, we experienced a little bit of heaven. Women who had come to the retreat with tired eyes, and heavy hearts, were encountering God. We all felt His presence as we took turns praying for each other. My Warrior King came with His healing power that morning and set us free from the lies of the enemy. He gave hope where there had been despair. He gave peace where there had been anxiety. Faces were glowing as the women packed up to head home. Their eyes were sparkling and they stood taller than when they had arrived.
The truth is, I am inadequate because I am not God. But HE makes me me qualified. He says, “This is my warrior daughter. Beware.” His grace covers all my mistakes, and allows me to lead even while I am still growing. I am still in Warrior Training. I don’t have any degrees (yet), and I wasn’t even ordained as a chaplain at that time (I am now.) I struggle to be confident when I’m up front leading. I don’t stand tall and lead because I’ve got it together. I lead because I keep saying, “Yes God. Here am I.” Use my messy, glob of clay, and make me into your oil lamp so I can shine bright for you.
“God gives me strength for the battle. He keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He causes me to stand on the highest places. He trains my hands to fight every battle. My arms can bend a bow of bronze. Lord, you are like a shield that keeps me safe. Your strong right hand keeps me going. Your help has made me great.” Psalm 18:32-35
“Father, I recognize that I can’t do anything without you. Thank you that you are with me, fighting these battles with me. Thank you for your grace that covers all my inadequacies. Show me the lies of the enemy and how you want me to move forward. I say Yes to not quitting. I choose to believe your truth.”
My friend, What have others said about you that knocked you down? What can you do about it? How can you move forward? What is God saying?
I believe in you. No matter what people have said, you are not powerless. You can choose today to be a warrior.
Right now I am reading, Girls With Swords, by Lisa Bevere. It’s been challenging and inspiring! Here’s a link to check it out: messengerinternational.org