The last couple of years have been roller coasters for me. So many good things. Carter's birth. Saralynn's starting Pre-K. Garrett starting a new job. So many valleys. Garrett's new job being third shift and the adjustment that comes along with it. Carter's sicknesses and the 2 resulting hospital stays. But, notice I called them valleys. My daddy once said "you can't have a valley without a mountain on each side". So that tells me, and has been shown to me, that even when I find myself in the low parts of my life, there's something better on the other side. I ran across a Caedmon's Call song a few weeks back called "Valleys Fill First" and it was so timely for me. Even when we are in the valleys- and they are plentiful- when it rains, they are the first to be filled! Ah! Such solace for me!
I've tiptoed a time or two around part of why I've been so unhappy but I've come to realize that by doing so I'm not doing anyone any favors. So, here goes. Disclaimer: I'm pouring my heart out here. Feel free to stop reading.
I've written in great detail before about the touch Jesus put on my life at summer camp when I was in the 7th grade. It was so real, so fresh, it makes my heart race to think about it, even as I type. I was called then, as I am called now, to sing, and by doing that, to lead God's people to His feet, where we will lay all we have and all we are, in total surrender. I had visions. I audibly heard the voice of the One who called out to me (think Samuel for a minute). God didn't reveal Himself so clearly, with such attention to detail, for nothing. I know in my heart that I am supposed to sing. I even saw where.
Why is that so heartbreaking? Because I can't. I want to. I've asked to. I've been told I would. And yet, nothing. The one time I was given the chance, I turned plans on their heads to get to sing because I knew deep down that was my shot. And I blew it. I messed up the words. I didn't sound like I was supposed to. Something. But I've never been given the chance again.
In that setting.
That sentence brings me to the point of all this. I saw myself in a vision that night on the stage in a building that wasn't even built yet. I didn't even know what it was. But the day I stepped foot into the New Life Building on our church's campus, I stopped in my tracks. This. Was. It. The place I was supposed to be.
But I'm not. And I probably won't be. But it won't be for a lack of trying on my account. I asked. I pleaded my case. I've shared my heart. The ugly parts. The pure parts. And though I didn't handle myself the best I could've along the way, my heart has been ever so pure from the start. I just wanted a shot to do what I was called to do.
Enter One Accord. A beautiful bunch of ladies I have the privilege to sing with here and there. We've sung once and are scheduled twice more. We meet every other Monday. We sing. We laugh. We cry. We pray. We tackle life together.
And they love me. They let me sing. They asked me to sing. Just when I had almost given up on it completely, there came Jesus in the form of Misty Anderson- "we need another singer and we would love it if you would join us". Was it the setting I'd longed for? No. Was it the music? Nope. Was it alongside my husband? (We've prayed for years for a chance to serve TOGETHER) Not this time. But, it was the fulfillment of a calling. Just the very day Misty approached me, I had decided it was time to look for another church, where I could hopefully use my talents. I had been saying it for months and Garrett kept prompting me away from that thought. But I was at my breaking point. I asked for a clear sign that we were meant to stay at First Baptist. I wanted my kids to experience what I did as a child and youth- something no other church can offer- mission tours, a dynamic youth group, so many things rolled into one. But I was MISERABLE. Garrett didn't want to leave- he was scared of smaller churches after watching his childhood church close its doors. So I tried to honor my husband and his wish to stay put, but deep down inside I was miserable, and I knew that wasn't honoring him either. So I asked God for a sign. Enter Misty.
So, at this point in my life, I'm doing the best I can to put the past behind me and trek forward. My reasons for staying at FBC are my Sunday School teacher, my music minister, and my ladies' ensemble. It's my sincere prayer every time I step foot into worship that my heart will lighten and let me experience all He has in store for me. And sometimes I don't succeed. But I'm trying.
Because the valleys fill first. Rain comes at unexpected, inopportune times, like in the middle of a summer afternoon with plans of a pool party. Other times it comes when it's expected to. In the dead of winter. But, it comes, and each time it brings refreshment. Maybe not right away. Maybe it seems like it made the hot day more humid. Maybe it caused ice to form on the roads. But later on, even after it has dissipated, we see the refreshment it came to bring.
So, next time you see me and I'm sopping wet, don't feel sorry for me. I may still be in the valley, but I'm on the way up. Part of why I'm wet is because I'm sweating and fighting my way up the mountain. The other is because I'm in the valley.
And when it rains, it fills first.