Five years ago, I was broken.
Actually, I had been broken for a while – about a decade, in fact. I was functioning, but empty and hollow. My life had blown to pieces and I was struggling to reclaim it and move forward with dignity, grace and my credit score intact. The majority of it was my fault. I maintained a great deal of shame that I wallowed in for years.
It was easy and comforting to swim in the muck. I was really, really good at it.
My job suffered. My schooling took a nose dive. I felt shattered, fragmented and as hollow as an old tree stump most of the time. My daughters seemed fine, but they were young and I kept up appearances for their sake. I didn’t let them see me lose it, ever.
Because that’s such a great time to reconnect with your first love, I did that. And it was great, actually. Two broken people, type-A personalities, faking it ’till we made it. Hey, let’s make a life together! We got married a year later in a flower shop.
Looking back, I know now that we were churning in our pain because that’s what we do. We churn and burn when we really need to stop and reflect. The faster we go, the less we can feel pain.
The only time I was forced to slow down and be still was in church, out of respect for my husband. We grew up in a non-denominational church; our entire social structure centered around youth group, prison ministry and camps.We ate tracts for breakfast, started prayer groups at school for lunch and fed off of Amy Grant for dinner. We were both strong in our faith and never lost it even during the worst of times. He spent several years in ministry and it was a comfort to attend church now, even in his own brokenness. Not so on this end, my friend.
I was a church rebel and had been for a long time. I’d sit through an entire church service completely tense, pissed off and spiritually belligerent. I’d leave exhausted and ranting, crying and yelling in the car. God, I was pathetic. Jesus, it was ugly.
My husband, ever the go-to Holy Spirit guy, prayed for me silently and with gusto. Because he’s a “fixer” he let the Holy Spirit know that he’d be taking on my spiritual revival and return to the fold. This was his job; his duty as a husband and former pastor. This was in his wheelhouse, fixing my spirituality, under the guise of male headship and familial leadership. I didn’t know any of this, which is probably why we’re still married nearly 5 years later.
Sometime early in the declaration to Save Jana’s Soul, the hubs got a spiritual download. That’s what we call it, the unmistakable inner voice that is clearly otherworldly and not of your own doing. Here’s what the voice said:
I will teach her.
I didn’t know this until last week when the hubs felt it was time to tell me. It cut straight to the center of me, this instruction for my husband. I sat there, open-mouthed, without words for a time. I’m usually an eloquent speaker, but this is the only sentence that describes my reaction and accompanying thoughts in totality:
Just, freakin’ whoa, to all of this craziness, man!
I felt, for the first time, the presence of a personal Holy Spirit. Just like the Bible talks about, just like Jesus promised, and just like I’ve never given any thought to before. Just. Like. That.
Five years of wading through my muck and I’ve come out a better, stronger, more faith-centered person on the other side. Much work has occurred and I’m starting to see the benefits within myself and my family; my marriage and my job. I feel called to give voice to the unsaid, ask questions that are hard. I mean, if you’re reading this right now, hello captain obvious.
I regularly feel pushes to move forward deep within in the areas of publishing, blogging and in the public sphere. To be authentic and transparent and vulnerable. To write and speak and teach and dig deep. To be an outlier and a fringe dweller. To be a pot stirrer and a truth teller. That is my job now. That is my calling.
It scares the hell out of me.
A year ago I began reading tentatively at first and then voraciously. I read different Christian stuff to try and get answers to nagging questions I had about the Holy Spirit, women in leadership, poverty, justice, discipleship. Authors and bloggers were (not randomly and certainly not accidentally) put in my path. The Holy Spirit threw out Jen Hatmaker first and her Worst End of School Mom, Ever blog post to ease me into this new area of reading. Then I picked up 7 and Interrupted and all hell broke loose. Then I went to a conference and read more books and found Jamie the Very Worst Missionary and started the IF:Equip Bible study and, well, the s**t hit the fan with me spiritually. And then Sarah Bessey, Nish Weiseth, Rachel Held Evans, Carolyn Custis James, John T. Bristow and dang you Galatians!
And then, all of these crazy, whacked out women with whom I’ve found a sisterhood of questioning. You’ll know them soon. Prepare yourselves.
I remember reading the intro to 7 to the hubs early in the process. The first paragraph hits you below the belt. I lapped it up and shared it with him wide eyed and with awe in my voice. As in, maybe I’m not crazy, here? I loved all of it because it was real and not contrived and stripped down, bare.
I can’t see where this ride is going, but I know it is big. I know He’s beside me, and the hubs, too.