I really prefer just coming here to write simple observations and show off the cutest kids on the planet, tell about adventures abroad, not reveal pain or any part of my private life. But I personally know that I prefer the juicy tell-alls over a brief editorial any day. This is such a vital part of the over all story of my days of grace and the days to come. As painful as it is to talk about, I have to share. You have all walked through so much, trips to Africa, babies birthdays, weddings, crazy dreams, the second job, shopping sprees. So here we go.
In October, Julie Andrews was on Oprah. She talked about her voice and its total complete loss. What a tragedy? Perhaps one of the greatest vocalist in the world, losing her voice forever. In the interview above, a few years prior, she is in admitted complete denial. Yet, her eyes still sadden, even now when she talks about it. A huge part of her is gone forever. I cannot imagine having so much of my identity stripped away overnight. In the Oprah interview, her whole demeanor changed when she talked about the loss. I wanted to run up to her and encourage her and tell her that her identity is not in her voice, that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made", "created in His image" and that she, stripped of any singing talent, on her worst day, has the Spirit of God residing within her, within you, within me, within us. We are way more powerful and amazing than we ever give ourselves credit. We believe the lies that we are second rate, that we are not good enough and we deny the world having the chance to have an encounter with us. We shrink back in doubt and insecurity. Our identity is not our talents, our giftings, it's Christ in us, us in Him. Even the most wayward unbeliever is a king, just unaware of who he is called to be. We are all kings, put on this earth to love and encourage one another and to reign over the earth. We were put in charge here.
There were so many nights I wrestled with the lies when who I was seemed to be defined by a necktie and an apron. I was treated like a waitress. Invisible. Sometimes I retrieved my identity by looking at the degrees on my office wall or having an elected official include me in dinner reservations or a round of golf. I could never reveal to anyone new what I did for a living without lengthy conversations about the state of Georgia, and detailed questions about my observations and insight into Gold Dome gossip. I often felt like the doctor at the table, with everyone showing their moles and cuts and strange ailments. I would sit and listen to their issues, opinions and nod like the politicians taught me, placating them.
Friday, my hand tied identity rug, the one I stood on that meant I was important, somewhat valuable, a little bit smart, well informed, on the pulse of all things within the State, got ripped out from under me. I lost my job. I was let go. All I know is that it was not my fault. The meeting lasted five minutes and I was quickly packing up my office. It sent me reeling. It has honestly had little to do with the title and identity in my career, since I wore that rug out doling out cocktails at the country club, and more to do with the security, the financial security. I know my year as a waitress helped me address the issue of who I was and stand firm in the value of simply me. But the security of automatic payments, twice a month, that is another issue. Perhaps I have put way too much security in this all along. I have actually wanted to leave for years. The luster of Georgia politics wore off quite some time ago. I have had December 1, 2010 circled on my calendar for years now. The date I would be vested into the retirement system and the reason I continued to stay in a job that I pretty much hated. I fully intended to leave on my 10 year anniversary date and buy a one way ticket to Africa.
I recently got to hear my friend Sherri Lewis, former physician, now missionary in Cameroon, share about how on the very day she quit her job as a physician, she got an email from the group she is now working with in Cameroon. How her letting go, released her into a greater destiny. Her testimony ending with how she is in the very center of where she wants to be and cannot imagine living or being anywhere else in life. I know that feeling and I have never felt that way here, doing bill summaries, in committee meetings, or at receptions with cocktails, whether sipping or serving.
About a month ago I was invited to join a group building a vocational school in Mozambique. We have plans to go in April and spend the month together, planning and preparing. I desperately wanted to go but knew work would make it difficult, to take that amount of time off and be gone so close to the end of the Legislative Session. Maybe I am still in shock, but the excitement of getting to go and not having to go back to the desk job, overshadowed automatic payments. I know that the vision I have is a journey and the past ten years have not been wasted, but training me for more. I cannot question God's faithfulness, He's been too good. I put my security in a State job, one of the most secure you can have and that didn't work. I had asked Him to show me if this path was one He wanted me to take, to join my friends in Mozambique. He has all but placed a neon sign above the path. At 11AM on Friday I started to do the math in my head, attempting to figure out what would happen if I just quit my job. How long could I live off savings? How much would I get paid in leave time? Should I simply take that leave time and then quit? At 4PM the decision was made for me. The benefits of being let go outweigh those of quitting. He's got my back. We've got a plan. I'm on my way. I cannot be robbed or stolen from, because none of it belongs to me anyway. With identity in Him, security in Him, nowhere else to go but Him, He is already bringing me into the center of where I am supposed to be. Who knew that losing something so great would be such a massive blessing?
Post losing her voice, Julie Andrews received an Emmy, a Grammy, published 24 books and became the voice of a queen (Shrek). I am tempted to quote Maria von Trapp and say, "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window". But I somewhat disagree with that theology. I don't think God takes away our prized possessions or gives us sickness or disease in any form. He is just a master at taking what the evil one threw our way and turning it into something beautiful.