Chapter 9 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood
The story of me was a story of shame
Wrong turns written on every page
So many parts that were so messed up
But I love the part where You showed up
Rewriting my past rewriting my hurt
Line by line word by word
And now my story is livin proof
There’s not a chapter that you can’t use
My story Your glory
My pain Your purpose
My mess Your message
In all things I know You’re workin
One life one mission
One reason why I’m livin
All for You not for me
My story Your glory
My Story Your Glory
by Andrew Jacob Pruis and Matthew West
Moving out of depression and my feelings of worthlessness, I gained confidence in Jesus in me and at the same time became deeply rooted in our church again. I also became involved in Christian Women’s club and Through this club, I heard about a need for speakers that sparked my interest. Christian Women’s Club was a large monthly luncheon where ladies invited friends to eat a nice meal, listen to one person speak about a craft idea, home improvement theme or civic activity and another to share their God story.
My dark struggles when Gary and I were engaged and I was Miss Boise produced a story that involved rebellion, deep regret and thoughts of suicide, which ultimately brought me closer to God and Gary and thus drawing a line in the sand for my full heart commitment to Jesus. One of my friends thought I should share this story with others in Christian Women’s Club who may be struggling. So, I signed up for their class where we wrote out God’s story in our lives. Bringing these prewritten to the class, we turned in our papers and listened to a speaker while other former speakers read our stories and corrected them in another room. About an hour later, the papers were returned to us.
Being one who always received A’s in writing class, I never expected to see red marks all over my paper with alternate words replacing what I thought to be well chosen phrases. Across the top of the paper in bold capital letters was, “Too Much Christianese!!!!” The words from my Christian Philosophy professor rapidly came back to me from my college paper with a D+ grade and the words, “You need to stop thinking only from a Christian perspective. Put your feet in the shoes of the others!” I realized I didn’t really know how to talk to people who had not known Jesus before.
After re-writing a few times, they took a chance on me and allowed me to start sharing my story of being raised in a confused Christian home setting, trusting God at a young age, but running lost and scared for a time, then at my worst point in my life, surrendering everything I had at the age of 21 to Jesus. I spoke in our local club and traveled to two others enjoying sharing my story and meeting some wonderful people.
Just as I was starting this project, Gary had asked the power company if he could design a remodel for our 55-year-old home. They agreed and to do this we had to move everything out into our detached garage. They rented a motor home for us to live in during the three-month renovations. We found it pretty crowded in a narrow trailer, so Gary slept in the garage on our couch with Taylor in the playpen next to him, also next to our kitchen table and TV while Shawn and I slept in the motorhome. It was quite an adventure. We cooked in the motorhome, ate and watched tv in the garage, sleeping half in both. It was crazy and there were mice involved in Gary’s sleep time!
After two months of feeling cramped, we decided to leave our obstacle course of a temporary home and go visit my family for a week in Seattle while attending my ten-year class reunion at my second high school. Gary surprised me and took me to Nordstrom’s in Seattle to buy me the first fashionable dress I’d had in a long time to wear to the reunion. I was quite proud of this modern floral dress, so when getting ready to speak at my last scheduled Christian Women’s Club luncheon, I was proud to have a classy new dress to wear.
The day of the luncheon, I had my dress on ready to go but was wearing slippers rather than my stylish matching heels to go between the garage and motor home. Before I knew it my advisor was there to pick me up. Kissing Gary and the boys, grabbing my purse, I rushed off to the event about forty-five minutes away.
On the way, my friend told me the theme of the event was home decorating, so I was thrilled that I could relate to this in the middle of a remodel. We arrived at the restaurant/hotel and stepping out of the car, I realized I had my ugly slippers on with my classy dress! Too late to go home and change, I thought about hiding them, or maybe going shoeless, but realized I needed a good laugh at the beginning of the story and went with it, although my vanity was a little bit wounded…
We ate lunch with the audience of 50+ ladies looking and sounding like the quietest sad group of women I’d ever seen. I realized the theme speaker’s ideas would fit well into my remodeling comments and she was fun, but no emotion seemed to flow from the audience. Nervously looking at stoic faces, I stood up after my introduction and started my dress and remodel story. When I got to the part of the slippers while extending my foot up in the air to reveal them above the table with my fancy dress hiking up, the whole place erupted into loud hilarious laughter.
Whew, I guess I chose the right icebreaker…Thank you, Jesus for old slippers!
Sharing my story of sin, brokenness, healing. and hope, I noticed some tears and shed a few of my own being grateful for God’s forgiveness and healing in my life. My story finished, I invited the ladies to pray with me as I asked God to help them in any areas of their lives that needed his love and healing. I also invited them to fill out a card to leave on the table, with no pressure, sharing any prayer requests or to sign up for a Bible study if they wanted to know more about Jesus. Saying our goodbyes, I headed for home, trusting God to do the rest with any seeds I’d planted from my story.
Two days later, our district director called me to tell me some amazing news. She said that this recent group was a pretty non-emotional group and was difficult to reach. This was partially from a stuffy and prideful attitude and mostly because some had been through a lot of loss. She said my slipper and dress story broke down some walls and allowed laughter they’d not heard with this group in a long time. When I was willing to expose my pride and call it out with humor in my humanity, it was the spark needed. She then went on to tell me that three ladies from separate tables had written on their cards about their depression with two of them, considering suicide. One of them, planned to commit suicide that night but changed her mind! They all wanted to know more about Jesus and signed up for Bible studies with women who could help them through their rough stories.
It was the first time I realized that while my past pain and rebellion was horrible to go through, my pain had purpose in helping and encouraging others. This story would be imprinted in my life for years to come wondering if I would indeed experience the pain of losing a child and after Taylor’s death it gave me confidence to share my story with others.
Our remodel was finished but very soon, we got transferred again back to the Hell’s Canyon area where we started. It was hard to leave our church, friends and neighbors who had been through so much with us, but it was a step towards Gary’s goal of getting back to Boise again someday, so with more tearful goodbyes we packed up and headed back to Hell’s Canyon.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
1 Corinthians 1:3-4