Today, I received my last paycheck. My contract for payment was honored by my former boss until the end of July. When I lost my job a little over a month ago, I decided to end a destructive cycle, and instead, take this month of pay and follow a dream.
The seeds of this dream were planted years ago, as a child, and watered by various people and experiences throughout my life. Roots took hold and the dream began to sprout, ever so tiny, almost invisible to the naked eye. The growth, however small in my heart, lead me to follow this dream a few times over the years, but only in addition to desperately clinging to a measly lifeboat for survival in a raging sea. Never before had I had the courage to shed the lifeboat for the dream. So the dream became a burden threatening to sink my little boat and drown me in the process. I had to let it go, each time believing it must be God shutting the door.
I now know that the lifeboat was never meant to carry me through the deep ocean of life. I now know that all this time, God had a cruise ship waiting nearby, hidden in the shadows of the enemies manipulation.
I can see the cruise ship in full now. The foggy shadows have evaporated. My hope and prayer through the lifting of the fog was that by the end of this month, I would be on the cruiseship.
But I’m not.
No miraculous provision has appeared in my bank account.
No email from some random publisher begging me to write for them.
In fact, I’m experiencing the exact opposite of any kind of success. I’ve had a total of 2 blog posts shared in the whole month on Facebook, with a whopping 18 likes. Total. Zero likes or hearts or whatever on Twitter, despite carefully crafting 140 character messages of encouragement daily. A drop from 78 followers on WordPress to 22. A decrease in traffic to my site from an average of 45 visitors a day to now maybe 4. In addition to my lack of success as a blogger, the man I love is ready to walk away from the dreadful and unavoidable drowning that is my life. I will have to explain to my children, who for some reason still trust me, that they are being rejected by someone they love, again, and that we are back at square one, homeless, and penniless.
It seems I have left the lifeboat prematurely. It seems I am unable to swim through these waters to the cruise ship. Maybe it’s an illusion, or maybe it was just a taunting motivation. Maybe God is saying no to my dream. I should swim back to the deflating lifeboat and take my chances.
But I won’t.
I woke up this morning with a strange mix of feelings. Disappointment and frustration circle me like sharks ready to attack. The heavy idea of giving up hangs in the air like sticky humidity, trying to penetrate my thoughts.
But instead of feeling defeated, I feel empowered. I feel like I’m flying, untouchable. The sharks pose no threat to me. A gentle breeze refuses to allow that heaviness to set in around me.
As I look around, I realize, I’m walking on water.
I may not be on the cruise ship – yet. By my standing on the waves in this vast ocean is a miracle!
I think about each unexplainable step leaving that dreaded lifeboat behind. I was a girl fighting for survival, barely able to gasp for breath before the next wave tried to pull me under. I didn’t know who I was, why I was here. I didn’t know my purpose, what my strengths, talents or gifts were. I kept living solely because I was all my two kids had, and I never believed for a second that I was the even good for that. I couldn’t see or hear God calling me through the fog. I only had a knowledge of his voice and a myth of the cruise ship to guide me.
I became a strong swimmer, and a knowledgeable navigator of the dark, bottomless sea. I learned, over time, to hear God’s whisper in the storms, however soft.
Knowing I was ready, he allowed my precious lifeboat to deflate and called me to tune out everything but his voice. I closed my eyes and listened hard as he called me to stand up and take a step on the crashing waves.
Today, he opened my eyes.
I have walked many miraculous steps on the water this month without even realizing how far I’d come. Now I see.
I see my purpose. I am not just called to write, I am called to feed the hungry, to free the captives. I have a mission, not a talent. Writing is only the beginning of that mission.
I see his presence. I feel it, like I never have before. A peace so intense that nothing else even feels real. Those dark thoughts of failure – they come at me but I feel like Neo in the Matrix, easily dodging bullets that aren’t really bullets at all, just an illusion. I see prayers already answered in a future I have not yet reached on my timeline, prayers I had forgotten were even prayed.
I see my child, plagued with fear, haunted by past abuse, struggling with OCD, anxiety, and ASD. He has no friends, and has been bullied and pushed around by everyone he knows, even some adults. He wanted to die, and tried to take his life. So much pain, so much anger. This sweet child recently took a hard road and reached out to the one who hurt him, the one who abused his duty to protect and love him. With wisdom far beyond his years, he offered forgiveness. This month, this child, who earlier this year claimed that God did not exist is now spending his mornings in prayer and reading his Bible, then discussing it with his mama over coffee!
I see a man brought into my life by God who only vaguely knew that God existed. A man who believed only a single prayer for protection and guidance in his childhood was all the communication he needed with this God. This belief begged me to reject this man, but God asked me to trust him. I asked this man to have an open mind about my faith, and explained that it was the most important thing to me. Two years ago, I began a friendship with this man that grew into a deep love and respect. Two years ago I began praying for this man to know God and God would shut the door on this relationship if he was not meant to be my husband. Gods answer, again and again, was to trust him.
This man I love now comes to church – enjoys coming to church – every Sunday. I listen to him explain difficult biblical concepts to my kids with wisdom and understanding that took me years to develop. His words guide each of us in God’s direction when we are struggling. While he is questioning his ability to commit to me and my crazy life now, he has held my hand each night this month as we come before Christ in prayer, giving him complete control over our relationship and asking for the Holy Spirits wisdom and guidance.
That’s a miracle. I have never asked him to pray for salvation or begged him to change in accordance with my religion. I’ve only asked him to keep an open mind.
At the beginning of this journey, God asked me to shed the lifeboat and come to him. Over the course of this month he’s purged my heart of sin and darkness, revealing the beautiful cruise ship that’s been waiting for me the whole time.
My battle with the sea of life has made me stronger, made the swim to the cruise ship seem less intimidating.
But God didn’t ask me to swim. He asked me to stand. He asked me to take one step in faith, then another. I followed his voice, eyes on the ship, expecting to be there today.
But I’m not. Instead, I’m looking around in awe. I haven’t reached the destination, but the journey is step after step of miracles.
I’m walking on water, and today, ship or no ship, I’m taking another step.