This ring, the one you see on my finger there? Yeah, it holds more meaning to me in this world than anyone could possibly know.
Nine years ago I made one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I chose to take six months of my life, disconnect from everyone and everything I knew, and spend the time finding a God I knew was there all along but didn’t really have a relationship with all while attempting to find a new “normal” for my life.
When I made the decision to spend six months of my life away from everything and everyone I had no idea that in reality I was spending six month gaining everything. I finished college, packed up my bags (two very heavy, very large suitcases), gave my dad my cell phone, hugged my parents good-bye and boarded a plane for Nashville, Tennessee on April 11, 2007. I’d never been to Nashville before and was terrified. I went through airport security in tears and felt totally alone. Simply not having my cell phone and not being able to call anyone during the time while I was waiting for my flight felt like death. As I sat on the flight, my anxiety sky rocketed and I didn’t know at all what I was getting into. I arrived at the airport in Nashville and was so thankful that my ride wasn’t there yet (sorry, Venice ;-)). I found a payphone and used my phone card to call my mom and tell her I’d arrived in Tennessee. It was hard to say good-bye as I hung up the phone. My suitcases arrived and so did my ride. Venice was the perfect person to pick me up at the airport. She made me feel comfortable and totally understood the fear I was feeling.
As we arrived at the Mercy Ministries home I wanted to do nothing more than turn around and run away. I remember walking through the doors and feeling like my life was over. How had I ended up here? How had life gotten to this point? I was the girl who was supposed to have it all together. I was the girl who needed nothing from anyone. I was the girl who was supposed to be living a perfect life. Except that life wasn’t perfect. I didn’t have it all together. And I needed more from others that I cared to admit.
The following six months would be some of the most difficult, challenging, stretching, strengthening, rewarding, life giving months. Those months were months that I truly believe God gave me as a gift to find a new kind of relationship with him and to show me that we could get through anything together.
During my time there, I think the biggest thing I learned and brought home with me was how to take the lies the world/satan has told us and turn them into the truth that God has told us. Here are some examples:
Lie: There is no hope for me. My life will never be any better. I am worthless.
Truth: God has a plan for me. This plan is full of hope. He will not allow me harm.
At one point during my time there, I had a list of 25-30 lies that I fully believed about myself. It was my task to take those lies and find what God really said and turn them into truths. This was a hard task but one that was so rewarding and life changing.
I can now say that I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be at in life without having taken this time away from life. Did I miss the “real world”? Heck yes! But I was able to find what the “real world” could really look like.
I met some incredible people, some of which are best friends to this day. I also found a passion for helping people and learning to ask for help for myself.
The ring I showed you earlier? That was the ring that I was given at graduation from Mercy. It is a constant reminder of the love God showed me in helping me work through the things He brought me through during my time leading up to Mercy and during my time there. It’s a constant reminder of the hard work that went into my time there and the fact that I don’t want to go back to that place in life.
If you are interested in learning more about Mercy Ministries (now Mercy Multiplied), feel free to check out this link: http://mercymultiplied.com/. This ministry is doing life changing work every day and deserves a look!