Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Brave Women Overcome

Today we had our last session for the spring season of Women's Connect. Six different women shared their testimonies in front of the group of around 50 women. These women are brave! They chose to face their fears and stand up in front of a room full of women and share their very personal stories with tears rolling down their faces. One of my friends shared her testimony of healing. She was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm months ago and our whole group has been praying for God to heal her body. A couple of weeks ago she went to see her specialist as a last step before surgery. The specialist had some surprising news for her, the latest test results showed that the brain aneurysm was gone. Jesus still heals people today, both emotionally and physically.

The other five women shared stories about facing their biggest fears and about a hunger to be the best at something that eventually led to sick leave from work. One of the women shared about her struggle with anxiety and depression that started after she received some devastating news this year. She talked about how God has been showing her that in the midst of the darkness He is good and He will never leave her. I could relate to every single woman's story and every story encouraged me. I was reminded of how even if every individual is unique our struggles are similar. We all struggle with feeling insecure and inadequate. We struggle with letting go of control and trusting that God knows exactly what he is doing in our lives. We are afraid of getting vulnerable with each other because we fear rejection, failure and being judged by others.

Last week Jen Pollock Michael was speaking at our Women's Connect gathering and she said that she doesn't like speaking in front of a crowd because she doesn't like being judged. I thought to myself: "You are an amazing, wise and famous speaker, I don't judge you I think you are great!" Most of the time other people don't think nearly as negatively about us as we think about ourselves. Why? Our spiritual enemy, the devil, has many different strategies to try to ruin our lives but the most efficient one is when he gets to us from the inside. He speaks lies into our souls and gets us to believe that they are true. Here are some of the lies he tells us:
"You are never going to be good enough, you just don't have it in you." 
"Nobody likes you."
"God doesn't love you, not after what you have done. God will never love you."

It's hard to not listen to these lies and believe them. The enemy knows our weak spots and that's where he will strike us. The amazing thing that happens when we get into community with others is that we become very hard for the enemy to break. When we choose to get vulnerable with a group of other Christians we give God an opportunity to use people to speak truth and encouragement into our lives. There has been a couple of times when another Christian woman has spoken something to me that she felt God wanted her to tell me and I had to fight back tears because it spoke right into my current situation. These were private things that I hadn't told anyone about and the woman just shared what was on her heart, having no idea that God was using her to bless me in that moment. This is what doing God's work will look like a lot of times.

God will put people in front of you and if you choose to love them you have no idea what he can do through you. We shouldn't let people use us but the goal is to let God use us. God uses women to carry babies and then to raise up the next generation that will take over the Earth after we are gone. God uses women to love and encourage their friends and family members, even strangers, whenever there's an opportunity. God uses women to go on mission trips and save other women and children from sex trafficking. God uses women to serve meals to the poor in homeless shelters. God wants to use us. Will we let him?

Pastor Holly Wagner's airplane story is a good example. A very mean lady entered the airplane and started yelling at the flight attendant who got tears in her eyes. When the mean lady went to sit down she sat down right beside Holly. Holly felt angry at the lady on the inside and planned to ignore her for the rest of the flight. God had other plans. God started nudging on Holly's heart and asking her to talk to the lady. Holly talked to the lady but only got an irritated answer back. The answer made Holly even more angry at the lady but God kept pulling on Holly's heart, asking her to try again. Holly decided to give it another try and at that point the lady broke down and started crying. After Holly had talked to the lady for awhile she found out that the mean lady had just found out she had terminal cancer. Holly ended up praying for the lady on the airplane and exchanging numbers so that she could continue to help her. The lady got connected to Holly's church and received help to walk through this very difficult last season of her life.

If we choose to stop looking at other people as competitors/annoyances and are open to letting God use us it's mind-blowing what God will do through us. God works in many different mysterious ways but one of his favorite ways to reach people and love on them is through other believers. We are the body of Christ. We are all here on Earth to love God and other people. He never said it was going to be easy.

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