“Whose woods are these I think I know. His house is not in the village though; He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near; between the woods and frozen lake, the darkest evening of the year.”-- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
This post will be in essence a continuation from the previous post I did. The time has come for me to finally open up and share how it came to be that I ended up in Christian Ministry. I came to Bacone College back in 2009 as a freshman when I was offered a praise team scholarship. I was still relatively early on in my Christian journey and didn't necessarily have the church support and encouragement that was needed. What I’ve kept hidden from that time until just recently was that there were countless secrets I was hiding beneath the surface. I knew I was called to ministry and entered Bacone’s Christian Ministry degree program but due to my own spiritual immaturity and negative decisions I made, I was on a one-way road to complete and utter self-decimation. I was taking my own anger, frustration, heartache, pain, and shame out on my own body. Externally, I was on Bacone’s praise team. I had great friends. I was involved with a collegiate ministry group in Warner at the Connors campus called BCM. Internally, I was depressed. I was active in behaviors associated with bulimia. I was battling depression of varying degrees. The people I associated myself with were toxic and negative influences that fueled my self-destructive patterns. While I was a great student, all of these factors took their toll on me spiritually, academically, emotionally, and mentally. I finished my freshman year with a 1.02 GPA. Somewhere along the way, I turned my back on God. I thought He had abandoned me and what I thought at the time was me running away from Bacone was essentially my way of running away from my calling and ultimately, running from God.
I spent the following year at a charismatic Bible college in Shawnee, Oklahoma where I endured the most hellish spiritual abuse one can imagine. Things were so bad that it led to me almost committing suicide one night. I was at one of the lowest points ever in my life and suicide seemed the only way out of the pain I was in. To this day, I don’t know what stopped me from going for it but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for whatever kept me from doing it. In continuing to run away from my calling to ministry, I ended up in Elementary Education and while I loved it and could genuinely see myself doing it, I still wasn’t happy.
I came back to Bacone one last semester in 2011 to try to bring up my GPA. I went on to Northeastern State University where I spent a few years. I was able to pursue my passions in writing and got great creative and fiction writing training. I got a lot of field experience in teaching in a public school classroom, but I was still battling my self-destructive behaviors. I was still trying to fill that empty void. Things came to a head in the fall semester of 2014.
Like Genesis 20:50 states, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
It was essentially the verse of my life that semester and the entire year of 2015. Spiritually, I was getting my life back on track. I was back in church regularly, had a strong prayer life, was learning how to put my faith and trust in God again, and then things came to halt. My grades were at an all-time low due to various circumstances and things at home were strained. My family for the first time experienced betrayal from the congregation we spent 18 years in. Negative decisions were made by church leadership centered on the violent actions of one individual. We were in uncharted territory. Everything began piling on me. What I didn’t understand at the time was that we were in the midst of a pretty ugly spiritual battle. We’ve all experienced spiritual attacks and satanic schemes at one point or another in varying degrees but this was the first time we’ve experienced anything like this as a family. In my own immaturity, I felt that if I couldn’t lash out at the parties responsible, I could lash out at God. I didn’t fully turn my back on Him like I did a few years before, but it was enough that it caused me more harm than anything else. I let the situation throw me off. I was pushing those closest to me away. In an effort to numb the pain I was in, I attempted to end my life. After a month or so of counseling, I was coming home from church a couple weeks before Thanksgiving 2014 and needed to clear my head. I ended up driving through Bacone’s campus for the first time since 2011 and through an odd chain of events, God called me back to my roots and I’ve been there ever since.
I say all that to say this—God has a funny way of ordering our footsteps. I spent a lot of time being angry about the situations I found myself in, but what I failed to realize was that it was God shaping my life to make me more effective in my ministry. I am a double major in English and Christian counseling and I ultimately want to counsel and help at-risk kids and women on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Another thing I failed to realize was that if all of these things in my life hadn’t of happened- I wouldn’t be where I am today. I don’t believe that God works in mysterious ways. I believe He works in glorious ways. It was in these trials and immeasurable pain and heartache that my faith was strengthened. It was in these dark seasons that my calling to ministry was edified. Ultimately, it was in this season of weakness within myself that God showed how strong He is.
What I ultimately failed to realize was that if these situations in my life, as hellish and as heart wrenching as they were, my life would have been completely different. Seeing my life for the beauty it is today made me realize that these dry, painful, brutal seasons in my life needed to happen to make way for the seasons of blessings God has so richly and graciously given. I know now that these times in my life weren’t God punishing me for whatever reason, but strengthening me to grow me in my faith and relationship with Him. Above all else, if these days hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t be as effective in my ministry. I’ve been almost irreparably broken and wounded. While it would be easy for me to stay in that place where I allowed my situations to make me bitter, I want to use that fire and energy in helping others. I want to go onto Pine Ridge and help young girls battling low self-esteem and eating disorders. I want to go into the schools and help teenage girls battling suicide and dating violence. I want to help young moms who are battling domestic situations and depression.
My journey to get to this point has been a long one. I’m not perfect but a work in progress. I never imagined myself in this area of ministry but I thank God daily for entrusting such a powerful and important calling on my life. This is not something I take lightly and it is definitely not something I take for granted. I am so blessed and so thankful to still be here. I am so thankful and feel so blessed that I’m alive today and I’m able to share my story.
Like the great Mr. Robert Frost once said, “…the woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”—Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Love and light,