I still remember the night I sat knowing that the trajectory of my life was about to shift in a completely different direction. The lump in my throat and the clamminess of my palms made it difficult for me to take notes. Our church went to a women’s conference every year and this was my second time attending. This night seemed fairly insignificant because I’d never heard of the speaker and it was the first night of a three day conference. So I sat completely unaware of just how big this night would be.
There I sat with pen in hand, ready to hear anything God would speak, truly unaware of how powerful the message would be. This was the moment I heard the Lord whisper in my ear, “Nikki, this is your year of awakening”.
The complexity and future of unknowns that surrounded that statement hovered over me. I didn’t like unknowns. They scared me. What I know now is God planted a seed of faith in me that night. I had to choose to either plant and grow it or ignore and let it wither away.
We all have choices to make in life. Some are easier than others, but the ones I’m talking about are usually the scariest to say “yes” to. Making the decision to plant that little seed of faith set me out on a path that was full of twists and turns I couldn’t predict. With each turn I had to learn to give up control, relinquish my fears and insecurities, and resolve to follow regardless of what the outcome may be.
But you see, the holy spirit is gentle. He didn’t give me a huge decision to make in the beginning of my journey. He gave me ones that taught me how to hear Him and trust Him. Seeds require a lot of nurturing in the beginning of the process of growth. As it matures, it becomes stronger and much more rooted in the foundational elements it once needed to begin to grow.
God is preparing us for what we were always born to do through the process of maturation. The more we lean into the seeds of faith He desires to grow, the stronger we become in our faith. The stronger we grow in our faith, the bolder we become in our walk. You see, as a sapling I was more prone to the elements around me. The slightest bit of wind would knock me down. The more I mature, the heavier the storms I can withstand and endure.
There is a verse in Esther that the speaker that night mentioned, and it’s been pivotal in keeping me on the path God set me on a mere two years ago. In Esther, chapter four, Mordecai, her older cousin and mentor was persuading Esther to help him. She felt unequipped for the task at hand. She was the unlikely choice for saving the Jewish people from the grip of King Xerxes, the Persian king. Esther was going to have to risk her life to follow through with what God was calling her to.
Mordecai sent a messenger to remind her not to get distracted in the King’s house by all the pampering. God put people all around Esther that didn’t look like her, but it was up to Esther to stay on task.
“He sent back this answer, ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4: 13-14, NIV.
Esther’s mentor was reminding her that she was placed in the position by God who would not leave her. All she had to do was be obedient in her call and God would bless her. It was in Esther’s response that truly spoke volumes of her faith.
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. AND IF I PERISH, I PERISH.” Esther 4: 16, NIV
Esther knew the risk she was taking by asking the king to free the Jewish people, but her faith was so strong that she was willing to be obedient, regardless of the outcome, even if that meant death. God grew Esther in her faith and obedience by giving her other decisions to make that lead up to this pivotal moment in her life. As she walked those other decisions out in obedience, her faith grew.
God is sovereign and loving. He knew the heart of Esther and He loved her through every step of her journey. Esther, the unlikely, uneducated, Jewish girl became the key that unlocked a whole nation from captivity because she chose to say “yes” when God gave her a choice. She chose to plant the seed of faith He offered.
I don’t know what the outcome of my little seed will be, but I know if I continue to let God grow me, I and others, will be blessed. You see friend, I believe we all have a mission, together.
It isn’t just about you or just about me. If you sow a seed you get a seed and in return, we become mission minded women, together. And when women of faith stand together, we are a force to be reckoned with. There is an anointing that resides in all of us that is released when you decide to emerge and answer the call placed on your life.
We are all women who have the potential to be movers and shakers if we choose to stay on the path God has chosen for us to walk. The investment He is making in you is for the oppressed, but the journey will bless you by growing you into a strong oak, not easily destroyed or dismayed.
I urge you to choose your plantedness, friend. Say “yes” to the seed of faith that God is gifting to you because the favor of God is not random, but purposeful, and it is in Him you will find the path to freedom and fruitfulness.
My husband and I have been married almost ten years this upcoming March. It’s been a fruitful, whirlwind of a decade. We’ve been each other’s best friends since college and supported one another through some of our most difficult moments.
Most recently, we had to learn how to walk through trauma counseling. About two years ago my world was flipped upside down when I chose to confront the painful memory of a sexual assault in my past. I talk openly about the affects it had on me as an individual, but the affects it had on my marriage have been just as life altering.
Healing from such a deep wound required me to uncover a lot of callouses. Although it was healing, it was tough work. God chiseled away the hard-outer shell I diligently built, revealing a softer, more vulnerable heart than I’d ever known existed.
Walking through a transformation of this magnitude had a direct affect on the closest relationships around me, most especially, my marriage. The brokenness of my past robbed me of my ability to be vulnerable, trusting, or emotionally intimate with my husband. I confused a sense of humor and people-pleasing with vulnerability. I replaced physical intimacy for emotional. Instead of walking into forgiveness I chose to avoid conflict and hide behind a façade, pretending I was a tower of strength, when I was truly wounded.
Learning how to love after walking through trauma was difficult, but it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for my marriage. It was the equivalent of removing a blindfold that was costing us our joy, peace, and truly being known.
Trauma caused me to callous my heart towards the person I loved the most in this world and I didn’t even realize it. God began to heal my marriage by restoring my trust in Him, first. Learning that I wasn’t a sum total of my past and that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) shattered the lie that I wasn’t worthy of being loved.
Being open and vulnerable in my communication paved the way for deep, meaningful conversation.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:16, ESV.
Praying with my husband was one of the very first things that lead us to being more open and vulnerable with one another. It opened a door to seeing each other’s hearts that we’d never known existed. God gently lead us in to healing conversations that helped shape and mold the way we spoke and loved one another. He simultaneously softened both my husband and I’s hearts towards one another as He realigned our own hearts towards Him.
Trauma gave me a warped view of vulnerability. I viewed it as a gate that would invite more pain if ever unlocked. The truth is, vulnerability paves the way for restoring intimacy in our marriage, giving us the desires of our hearts and restoring them to Jesus.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thess. 5:23, ESV.
Without being vulnerable, I would never learn how to trust in a relationship again, both with my husband or with Jesus. Trusting someone with my heart after experiencing trauma seemed reckless and unnecessary. It wasn’t until I began trusting Jesus with the most tattered, broken pieces of my heart that He would begin to transform my view of trusting in my marriage. It was in my own heart transformation that birthed a transformation in my husband and me.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9, NIV.
I humbled myself and asked God to forgive me for trying to heal my broken heart without Him. Taking the healing out of the Healer’s hands bore pain and division in my marriage. Once I repented, He did what only He could do by restoring and repairing the wound that once spread out into the most precious portions of my life.
Asking my husband to forgive me for causing any wounds, even if unintentionally, caused a flood of tears to come pouring out. I had no idea how unaware I was. My guarded heart caused me to be brittle and unempathetic to the man I desired to be closest to in my life. His tears were the cleansing agent we needed to restore the brokenness between us. The further we walked down the road of forgiveness, the more emotionally intimate we became.
God began to restore our marriage, establishing our hearts toward Jesus first, organically drawing us closer together. Marriage is stronger and healthier the more we pursue Him.
Learning how to love Jesus has simultaneously began to heal our marriage through the deep wounds of trauma. May we constantly pursue the redemptive grace and hope of Jesus by walking in alignment with His word. May our marriages constantly be restored by our willingness to submit to Him. And may we cling to His redeeming love more than anything else, believing that He is the only healer that repairs the irreparable.