Thursday, September 27, 2018

Return on Investment: The Payoff for Doing the Hard Things

The book was preordered and I could hardly wait. A book about friendship, a first for me. There was also a Facebook group with some of my favorite authors participating, this was going to be fun, well that's what I thought until I started reading Never Unfriended, by Lisa-Jo Baker. 

Then I stopped.

The book was too personal and it was getting all up in my business, it was nearing the delicate parts of my heart that were still tender to the touch. I continued to watch the videos because cmon who doesn't love Lisa Jo-Baker, Ann Voskamp and Annie F. Downs. They were sharing their stories and that felt safe. They were so transparent I wished I could be more like them. Yup, comparison there it was!

It was at least six weeks before I could pick up the book again and I could feel the healing. This touched every relationship of my life not just friendships. This book went into the secret vault of everything relational issue known to man and all too familiar for me.

I always knew I had PTSD, but never realized exactly how it affected my relationships until now. How the abuse in my past was still shaping my present and directing my future even though God had done so much to heal me. How it still kept me at arm's length from getting too close or allowing others to. How tired I was of trying to keep everyone safe, so I too could feel safe. Lies, so many lies I had believed and allowed to shape me.

It drastically changed me. I knew I wanted to share this message with others, so I led the study at my church and it was changed us. It was risky to do this in a group so soon after so much revelation, but I was sure I wanted to overcome and a group was the best way. We had a great summer and had plenty of opportunities to practice what we were learning.

At the heart of all the messages in the book was identity, it seemed to always point back to identity and mine was becoming crystal clear.

There was a (Live)Friended event in Nashville in the fall that I was blessed to attend and the message penetrated deeper. The speakers and panelists were real and raw and I could feel my heart being restored at a new level.

L to R, Jamie Ivey, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Annie F. Downs, Lisa-Jo Baker

This summer I had the honor of co-leading Never Unfriend with my dear friend Martha Wilson at Touching Hearts Ministries and was blessed by how far I'd come in relationships and amazed at how much deeper the Lord still wanted to heal me. Each week the lessons hit home for all of us and we were challenged to practice what we were learning in our sometimes very large group.

Since I'd been through this book twice before I encouraged everyone to come even if they couldn't read the chapters, even if it was hard, even if they wanted to run. And many did! There were incredible testimonies and growth was evident. We even had to practice working things out right in the middle of prayer time one day, but God! He showed up every week in ways I never dreamed.

Summer is not usually a time where people are super committed to bible study, but we were. You could sense the need to hear this message, the need to live it out, the need to change the way we do relationships. The Lord began speaking to me about our return on investment. Every sacrifice we made to show up, share a testimony, practice a hard truth - He would meet us. We would see the payoff long after the study was over. He would bless every attempt to be more intentional and relational, every attempt to give up fear, control, and comparison. He would use every investment to heal, not just others, but us.

I watched as women stepped out. I was in awe. I watched as they did things they would have never done at the beginning of the summer and sometimes it left me speechless. It was surprising how doing the same study for the third time could hurt so much and heal so much.

Our plan was to end the summer with a retreat, a time set aside to be intentional and practice all we had learned. The retreat was two weeks ago and I have to say it was the best I've ever been to. As part of the leadership, I got to see the ins and outs of planning and the hours of prayer and preparation - everyone excelled. Everyone stayed in their lane. Everyone showed up. Everyone did the hard things. Everyone made new friends.

Everyone, now sure they are Never Unfriended, has faith to do relationships in a new way, God's way.

No comments:

Post a Comment