Whenever I’ve stepped out to do something I felt God calling me to do, the voices of criticism and condemnation have been there to greet me.
Early on in ministry the voices were loud and cruel: “You’ll never be a speaker.” “You are not wanted.” “Look at you. Do you really think God could use someone like you after what you’ve done?”
Sometimes I measured myself against other people. “She’s so clever. She’s so educated. She’s so connected. Who am I compared to all that?”
Gradually, I pulled away. I put up a front of perfection with carefully crafted words and a house and kids that looked just right. Polished on the outside — yet completely undone on the inside.
Eventually the Lord called my bluff.
I was simultaneously going through the books Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson. Often I would have tears stream from my eyes while attempting to get through the lessons. But one day, it was more than just tears. It was sobs pouring from a chest so heavy with burdens I thought I might literally break apart.
Down on my face, I asked God to speak to me. What I heard in reply was one simple yet life-changing question: “Will you share your story?”
“Yes, I will share my story. The good parts. The parts that are safe and tidy and acceptable.”
But safe and tidy and acceptable were not what God was looking for. He wanted the impossible.
Absolutely impossible … in my own strength.
But God wouldn’t drop it. He met every one of my arguments with Scriptures about relying not on my strength, but on His.
He untangled my need for approval with the challenge to live for an audience of One. He helped me see where the voices of doubt were coming from and challenged me to consider the source. And, quite simply, He kept whispering He loved me over and over again.
The first time I shared my story was nothing but an act of absolute obedience. I kept my head down and my guard up. I expected the ladies listening to all start stoning me … especially when I got to the part about my abortion. The shame of all the abuse and rejection was nothing compared to the shame of my choice to abort my child.
I’d wept over that choice.
I’d gone to God hundreds of times and asked for forgiveness.
I’d laid it down every time there was an altar call.
But nothing brought the redemption that this day brought. As I stood shaking at that podium, I shared exactly what and how God asked me to share.
And then the miracle happened.
When I finished and dared to look up at their reactions, tearstained faces were looking back at me. Mouths were whispering, “Me too. Me too.”
In that moment, I finally understood the idea that “what Satan means for evil, God can use for good” like Genesis 50:20 tells us.
Seeing God use the very thing that made me feel utterly worthless to help others changed everything. I was finally breaking free from Satan’s chains of shame and could see his lies for what they were.
In that moment, I felt victorious — not in my own power, but in the Lord’s strength and ability to use all things for good. Without that decision of obedience, I would not have been able to see how God wanted to work in the lives of so many women that night.
This is our heart at Proverbs 31 Ministries — to help women dismantle the lies of the enemy with the truth of God so they can walk in freedom. Because when one woman finds freedom, she is able to help countless others discover freedom in Christ!
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