Suddenly everything makes sense, the struggles of the past 10 years, that is. I have been on long, winding spiritual journey with Jesus hard at work. He has been shaping me through my tears…so many years of fear and pain, but I am brand new in His unending grace! Finally, I rest in His embrace! Let me share with you my story.
Jodie’s Spiritual Journey
It’s funny I should choose the word “suddenly” to begin my story because it feels like the journey has been anything but sudden! I guess I would say that I never choose the easy road. Throughout my entire life I’ve always preferred the uncertainty of adventure over the security of an easier path. While my sister chose marriage at age 25 I chose to accept my first teaching job in Morocco. But this story is not about my ENTIRE life story! I only find myself reflecting on some of the revelations that now make sense to me.
My Spiritual Journey Toward Jesus
Why would my spiritual journey to find Jesus be a straightforward and easy path when the rest of my life has been anything but that?
In 2008 my husband lost his job. We had just moved to a new area and our children were 1 and 3 years old. We had bought a new beautiful home. Little did we know that everything was about to change.
It took 3 years for my husband to decide what he wanted to do. It took another 4 years before his new business allowed us to pay ourselves. Things were incredibly stressful. My naturally introverted husband became extremely withdrawn, and I found myself relatively alone with my own struggles.
Struggles Grow Our Faith
Read another powerful story of how Julie’s struggles with infertility was God’s way of growing her faith, another example of how Jesus is always at work for our good! Read her story HERE.
Growth Comes through Struggle
My life had changed drastically between 2008 and 2015. Where I used to find happiness in shopping, working out and socializing I was now working part-time for my husband’s business and doing everything I could to avoid spending money. It seemed every aspect of my “old life” involved spending money. I started saying no to lunch dates, dates to meet for manicures or go shopping. even coffee. I was ashamed of my new “status” and began to sink deeper into a state of self-pity and depression. We canceled our gym memberships and basically stayed at home, which, for this extrovert meant isolation and sadness. 2015 was a really low time for me.
At this same time my twin sister Julie had just moved to Seattle. She had her own struggles, the challenges of a new place, without friends or family nearby. They spent the first year in a small apartment while they waited and wondered if their California home would ever sell. But during that year of outward struggle God was hard at work in her family’s life and in their hearts. Click here to read her Spiritual Journey and her powerful Testimony.
Watch Julie’s video testimony HERE!
Her kids settled into their new schools and her daughter’s boyfriend’s family became one of their closest friends. They invited them to their church and I began to hear about more positive changes. Her children started connecting with the youth groups and miracles started taking place! She and her younger son were baptized and her other children followed. I watched and witnessed their spiritual journey closely. Jesus was showing me the way…but I wasn’t ready yet.
The next summer Julie was excited to take me to their church. I remember going every Sunday for 3 weeks and crying my way through each service, wanting what she had but not sure what it was or how to get there. I was searching for something. Undoubtedly Jesus was tugging at my heart. He was planting seeds of desire that would take years still to bloom.
This was about the same time we both started our Instagram accounts. The spring and summer of 2015 opened up the world of IG to me and provided me a welcome purpose and distraction from my worries and the pity-party I had come to embrace.
Meanwhile my husband’s and my business eventually started to show some promise and we dared to believe that things would start to improve. I saw the happiness that my sister’s faith was bringing her and I wanted that but somehow it continued to stay just out of reach.
So Many Excuses!
I made excuses for myself, blaming it on not finding the right church. I had attended a few local churches and none of them had felt right, blaming it on my family. Neither my husband nor my boys showed the least bit of interest in finding a church. In reality they pushed back on the idea until I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. I told myself, I don’t have time to even go to the gym anymore. Where am I going to find time to go to church?
Looking back I know that these were just excuses. Excuses because I wasn’t ready to devote my life to God. I was scared of what that might look like. I was afraid that I didn’t know HOW to let go and let my faith lead me.
Jesus Brought Me to My Knees
In 2017-18 I started getting severe migraines. I had had migraines all my life but these were different. I was waking up in the middle of the night several times a week and no medication could take away the pain. Out of utter desperation I reached for a book that my niece had given me called “Jesus Calling” and through tears of pain started reading and praying to Jesus. These prayers were my last resort. And Jesus was there for me to take away my pain.
I had reached my breaking point. The stress. The anxiety. The solitude. The feeling of complete isolation from friends, family, even from my sister and my husband. It had been nearly 10 years of financial stress. Worrying how we were going to pull ourselves out without an answer or solution.
All of this finally triggered a physical reaction and I was brought to my knees. At 3 am through the pain and tears….as my migraine started to lift I saw my migraine as God’s gift to me. It was his way of calling to me. And telling me when all else fails that He would be there for me. I started to feel relief in those moments. And I felt grateful for Jesus who I knew was there for me.
I continued to visit my sister’s church when I visited Seattle. I wanted so badly to have what she had. But I still felt lost. My Husband was reluctant. My children were reluctant. And all my attempts to find a local church had left me disappointed.
Jesus Begins Delivering Miracles
Then this past year placed another big hurdle in our path. My oldest son would be graduating from the private school he had attended since 2nd grade and would be entering high school. We knew that our local public school was not an option that we would be satisfied with but we couldn’t afford any of the private schools. We were at a loss. It seemed like the only option was to sell our home to try to move into another town where the school districts were better. Unfortunately this would mean putting additional financial stresses on our family. It would mean downsizing and giving up the one positive thing that we were still clinging to….our beautiful home.
I looked hard at my priorities and realized that I was willing to sacrifice my home for the sake of my son’s education. But at that moment one of my good friends told me about a local Christian school her daughter was attending. Not only did she speak very highly of the school it was an affordable option. However, I was very skeptical because I didn’t think any of my family members would even be willing to consider it. But Jesus had a plan.
Jesus Visibly Shows Up in Our Lives
It was January and acceptance letters were already being sent out. We needed to have a local church and the boys needed to show regular attendance at a youth group. We started going to a church with my friend the very first Sunday in January and committed as a family. Together we didn’t miss a Sunday and the boys didn’t miss a Youth group meeting. They even attended a 3-day winter retreat. By mid-February we were able to ask the pastor for a letter of recommendation and applied to the Christian school. It was by the grace of Jesus that he was accepted and an answer to our prayers that he would be able to attend such a wonderful high school.
A Hard-Won Spiritual Harvest
Little did we know this was just part of the miracle that Jesus had planned! There I was, I had my family surrounding me, my husband holding my hand. And God’s love promised to me. I had finally found a church, New Life Church in Alamo, CA where I felt at home. My husband was willingly attending by my side. My children agreed to go and everyone committed to our shared purpose. This was my moment to let go. I started saying yes to every opportunity to worship and connect and even went alone a couple Sundays when my husband and boys were out of town. Sundays became my favorite day of the week and began looking for every opportunity to reach out, and even offered my services to help with the church’s Instagram account.
I Am in His Hands
Most recently I attended an all-female 2-day conference called She Confernce led by New Life Church and felt the power and courage that comes with opening oneself up to Jesus. Letting go and finally not being afraid. Suddenly I found myself raising my hand and committing openly, publicly to Jesus. What I had always longed for but been too afraid to commit to. It suddenly was mine. As I raised my hand I felt the warmth and reassurance of other hands on my shoulders. Other women were gathering around me and praying with me, over me! What had been a private longing of mine was suddenly thrust out in the open.
All at once my insecurities were thrust out into the open for all to see….acknowledge and dissolved all in the same instance.
Watch an amazing highlight video of the event HERE.
In the Darkness I see the Light
In the obscured darkness women all around me sent their prayers up to Jesus. There were tears. I shed tears for the fears that I was releasing. I swapped fear for joy and embraced a new-found courage that I was claiming. This was my new path, the journey I had longed for for so long. In that moment I recognized the joy and hope that was promised by God all along.
A lump wells up in my throat as I write this. I know that I am still learning what it means to accept Jesus in my life to His full power and glory. It is the biggest adventure I have ever embarked on. Accepting His will. Surrendering to Him. It feels scary and reassuring all at once. But every time I fixate on His will, good things happen….so I accept the challenge laid in front of me.
It is All For His Greater Purpose
And suddenly….I am back to where this story began. Now, “suddenly” everything makes sense. All the hardships I faced were worth it so that I could know the face of God. I hate to think of my life any other way. What if?? What if I hadn’t experienced those financial hardships and had to experience the stress and the depression and the feeling of being lost and the migraines?? I may have remained trapped in the superficial focus on “things” and “experiences” and never would have found a relationship Jesus.
What I know now is this….I haven’t arrived but am simply on God’s path. I have so much more to learn and so far to grow but it’s ok. What is important is that I have surrendered to the love of Jesus, and I acknowledge my ignorance in His ways.
Jesus Was Always With Me
I know that the deeper I grow in my faith the stronger I will become. I know that this is where I need to be and that Jesus is by my side. All I need to do is remember that.
And, the quote Lysa Terkeurst from “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” I have learned…
“If I want His promises, I have to trust His process.”
“God isn’t ever going to forsake you, but He will go to great lengths to remake you.”
“What if disappointment is really the exact appointment your soul needs to radically encounter God?”
Julie and I highly recommend Lysa’s book and study series. Lysa shares a strong Biblical message woven through personal struggles that we can relate to. It is a powerfully insightful book that you’ll want to read and reread.
Visit her site for her ministry and amazing inspiration. (Her newest book mentioned above is not available on her site, but her past book are.)
My Life in the Hands of Jesus
Now I understand. He has shown me the light. My life and all the suffering finally makes sense. I am at peace. And I am ready and excited to move forward with renewed hope and confidence that everything will be alright. Everything will be just as it should be. I am truly on the path of becoming the person God created me to be.
Know that Jesus is Good…Always
Jesus works all things for our good! Even and perhaps especially during our struggles. This is incredibly encouraging to know as we face the toughest times in our lives. Know they are for purpose. Know that Jesus is at work. He has not forgotten you. On the contrary, He is calling you, growing you, and has designed your challenges for His purpose and your greater good.
With love and hope,
Jodie & Julie