I entered 2020 carrying the weight and trauma of a difficult few years. Delivering pre-term babies (one of which spent six long stressful weeks in the NICU), dealing with family illness and tragedy, and managing the burden of suicidal clients and family. I thought those years were going to be the hardest I ever had to endure and welcomed 2020 in with great hope. Though, the stress magnified. Raising two little kids while launching another off to college, supporting family back in Jamaica who can no longer work, coupled with the increasing pandemic stress. All the toll became to accumulate. I was sinking deep into a place that was not healthy. I thought perhaps God is punishing me, and maybe I deserved it. Perhaps, my family is cursed! Perhaps the sins of my ancestors are being repaid through me experiencing all this seemingly never-ending pain. I was not in a good place in my faith.
One afternoon in the early days of the pandemic, I took a long drive, just to get out of my house to clear my head. I remember receiving a random call from Pastor Crystal, saying that she was thinking of me. I broke down crying over the load I was baring. It felt so immense and unmanageable. She prayed for me on the phone and reassured me that my Storyheights family was there to support me. That was enough to recenter me then. I tuned-in to every single online service during the mandated in-person service closure. As the year progressed, I battled with more life-altering decisions. I took the necessary, and frightening step of filing for a divorce. For me, when StoryHeights was allowed to reopen its physical doors, it was a miracle. Going to Sunday services was, and has been a form of respite, solace, peace, in the middle of great uncertainty.
Honestly, although I was showing up most Sundays and leaning into God more than I ever have, I still felt something missing. Despite all the real and anticipated financial burdens that came with this year (the cost of a litigious divorce, daily living expenses, assisting my visually impaired uncle, taking care of my three girls, and sending my oldest into her first semester of college out of state) I was beginning to question how I allocated my finances. I had reasoned with myself that the monies I send to some of these necessities are charitable in their nature and that God would understand if I didn’t tithe. After all, I was already giving so much to so many in my personal and professional life! There was a sermon in the fall of 2020, about putting God first in your finances. It really resonated with me and clarified God’s instructions to us as believers. After church, I went home and went down on my knees and prayed to God saying that I am believing that if I follow His instructions, He will faithfully meet my needs. The following day on one of “sanity” walks in the woods near my house, I saw an email saying among other things- “We would like to send you $4,000 in emergency funds” to assist with my oldest’s tuition. My immediate response was to forward the email to Pastor Crystal (after thanking Jesus of course) to tell her of the miracle that just happened, so quickly after I made the decision to put God first as she had preached the day before. That was the start of the change of my mindset.
In December in one of Pastor Tyler’s sermons, he preached that “God sends us his very best when are at our worst.” I was being bombarded with messages left, right, and center, through the preaching, teaching, songs, and Bible readings and the many “coincidences” that kept happening, telling me that God has something great for my life. I now realize that although I was going to church and clearly searching and yearning for healing and a break from the constant battles in my life, my challenge was that I was still believing a big lie—that Jesus must somehow be forsaking me and is still punishing me. It was time to break free of these deep lies. Jesus has never left me or forsaken me, or my family. In fact, I have walked into 2021 with a new perspective. I am reframing my struggles as I am realizing that what has been missing is that I have been fighting against the struggles in my life. I have not been taking note of the doors that have been opening through it all. Perhaps, the struggles have been the Lord impelling me to draw closer, lean in more. What’s missing is that I have not put my ENTIRE faith in Jesus! My new not so silent daily mantra is begging God to purify me through His refining fire, “Here I come running and I won’t look back!” I truly believe that through the continued support, love, teaching, and encouragement of StoryHeights Church, coupled with putting my entire trust in the Lord for the first time, my life has completely changed forever. He will continue to take care of me, and my family, and take our stories to even greater heights! I could not have made it through these gloomy days without the support and love of this church. I plan to go forward into 2021 singing loudly, “I belong to You-You can have my heart & Great is your faithfulness to me.”