Let me introduce you to my lovely friend Krista! Who has encouraged and inspired me on this writing journey of mine. Krista Spinks is a single mom, a writer, a worship leader and lover of Jesus who spends her days growing closer to God, raising her family, and making the best of every opportunity. Her heart is to “turn this ordinary responsibility into an extraordinary opportunity”. She pours her heart out on the pages of her blog themommycalling.com. She is talented, honest and so inspiring. So today I pray that you will be blessed by her testimony and the word she’s called to share. -J.E. Berry
It has been a year. One year since my separation, one year since I was removed from leadership, one year since my life turned upside down and inside out. It has been by far the hardest year of my entire existence and I have had some very, very hard years. My family is still broken, but my children are healing. My heart is still in pieces, but God is putting it back together. Yet there is one aspect that I have not been able to move beyond and that was the hurt caused by those who were supposed to love me through my pain. I have struggled with the words to use to share this for so, so long. I have met with many who have been betrayed. I have continued to try to encourage rather than focus on the problem, but the truth is the problem is still there…
The #1 lie of Christianity is that our lives will be perfect. “But what will people think?” I still remember, and always will, the hurtful words as I was removed from my position of leadership in the church. Abandoned by the ones I had expected to carry me when I was too weak to walk, to pray for me when I was too broken for words, and to encourage me when I was hopeless. I had shared with the women of my Bible study, a group of women that I considered my dear friends and trusted sisters in Christ, that my husband had left. I will never forget what happened next. I received a phone call. The pastor had heard I was having trouble in my marriage. They had had a meeting. I was to step down. “We heard you were having problems and we had a meeting” – all I heard was, “we heard from someone who heard from someone who heard from someone and we talked about it” and “without hearing from you what is actually going on we have made a decision about your ministry and what you are to do because you are not capable of making decisions.” “If you can’t lead your family…” – all I heard was, “you are useless as a leader and you will never have a role in ministry again.” “You are in one of the most visible positions, what will people think…” I never thought I would hear those words and when I did it broke me. Forget everything else that had been said and how wrong it all was, those. words. broke. me. All I heard was, “You mean nothing to us apart from your image.”
The #1 truth of Christianity is we are sinful, broken, messy, imperfect people. And I hope that that is the #1 thing people know and remember about me. Why? Because as long as I am parading around like my life is perfect and I am so good, in what ways do I need God? As long as I am put together and influential and likable, why would they need Him? We are so obsessed with ourselves that we have reached a point where we believe God simply cannot do anything without us, and the second something takes away from us and actually points to HIM, oh no that will not do at all! We cannot have imperfect people out there teaching people about a perfect God can we? Well, they can be a “little” imperfect, but it has to have been at least 5 years ago and we have to cover-up anything that has happened since then and it can only be like a 3 out of a 10 on the “sin scale”. We are sinful, broken, messy, imperfect people in relationships with sinful, broken, messy, imperfect people trying to teach sinful, broken, messy, imperfect people all the while trying to convince everyone (especially ourselves) that we are not sinful, broken, messy, and imperfect!
I wish someone had actually asked me, “So what will people think? What defense will you have when they see you, all divorced and a single mom and trying to still be some sort of leader?” Because I would have shouted my answer from the rooftops! I hope that they would think amazing things about my Christian walk and my personal character. I hope that they would see me the way they had seen me for the past ten years. I hope that they would think about the fact that throughout the entire six years of a marriage scarred with abuse and neglect and heartbreak that I was still able to stand up as a leader. I hope that they would think about the fact that as my husband packed his things into his car and left our home and our family that I was there, in that exact moment, raising my hands in worship before the Lord in front of the entire congregation leading them – leading them while I was broken. I want people to know that as I stand up there I am not pretending my life is perfect, because it was FAR from it. That I have a reason to lift my hands and it is not just to seem “super-Christian”. I want people to know that the lives of those leading them and shepherding their hearts and escorting them into the throne-room of God in worship are themselves broken, imperfect, and crying out in desperation to God.
There are lies that we tell, even unknowingly, that we have got to stop. The first is: You must hide until your life appears perfect again. That was the message I was taught the day I was told I wasn’t fit to be a leader in that church. And the thing that hurt the most was no one seemed to have a problem with the fact that I had been leading throughout the darkest point of my life until someone actually discovered the darkness. Had I continued to keep the darkness to myself, had I continued to praise God in a storm (as long as no one knew about it) I would have been okay. But I was in such a “lime-light” as a worship leader, about to start leading a women’s Bible study, that opening up about a current struggle was un-acceptable. A leader can have scars but not open wounds, they can have mistakes in their past, but must be perfect in the present. Those words, what will people think, will haunt me forever. Because I had hoped that they would think that I was open and honest and vulnerable and real. I hoped that they would see the value in my pain, that it would give others the courage to walk through the doors after their families fell apart and they felt like an utter failure and unloveable and unworthy. I hoped that they would see someone up there in the same place as they were with tears pouring down her face and hands raised to God and they would feel accepted and that they would find a hope for a future that feels hopeless. Instead, they saw me as a liability. Someone who was just not good enough. And they told me that I needed to make myself invisible because, after all, what would people think?
The second lie is: Your struggles are only worth something after you have found the meaning in them. We spend so much effort parading our struggles before the masses after we have come through the other side. Why? Because it provides hope and testimony to those going through it doesn’t it? But which provides a greater testimony: someone who abandoned the church and their walk with Christ and the calling He has for them in time of trial and came back to God when they had come through the other side, or someone who is in the midst of it, who does not see the good in the situation and doesn’t know if they ever will, standing there refusing to give up on God even when it feels He has given up on them? God was calling me to stand for Him even when I didn’t want to, but the message the church gave me was that that was not the “right” thing for me to do. God had granted me a peace and a motivation and a calling to stand up in my leadership not only in spite of my circumstances but because of them. But the church told me that that was wrong. After all, what would people think? I hope that they would think that they are not alone in their struggles, that God is not picking on them or punishing them or singling them out because they are not “good enough”. I hope that they would find the freedom to be open about their struggles, to bring it into the light where God can heal instead of stuffing it into the dark where Satan has control. I hope that they would find the support and love and guidance that a church is commanded to provide to the hurting and the weak and the broken. I hope that they would think the church is a safe place to come and empty out our burdens and be healed.
Because, no, I couldn’t “succeed” in this area. In spite of fighting a constant battle I “lost”. For me there was no restoration and my family fell apart. And what did I hope people would take out of that? That we are NOT perfect. That we are NOT in control. That we. are. broken. Does that make me any less of a leader than I was before? Does that make me any less of a Christian? Does that make my witness any less effective or my beliefs any less solid? Not in the eyes of my God. My God knew every stepping stone laid in the path of my life before I reached it. When He called me to the ministry as a child it was not because He expected me to live a perfect life and have a perfect marriage. He knew beforehand my every mistake, my every failure. I was called by a God who thought I was worth everything. A God who knit me together in my mother’s womb, who knows the desires of my heart and the thoughts in my head. He knows all, and He chose me. What you see as my failure, God has purposed for good. Whatever happens in my life, it is no more or no less than what could happen to anyone else at any time. I am where I am but for the grace and mercy of God. There is nothing I can do to lessen His opinions of me. Nothing I can do to tear myself farther from His grasp. There is no event that can happen in my life that will make Him view me as less worthy than I was before. I am His child and one He has called to a lifetime of service to Him no matter what people may think.