Have you ever felt like the person on the outside looking in? Third wheel in the group? Or not even in the group at all? Have you been fully present and active in a group of people, yet felt hidden and unseen? It’s not an easy place to be as it can lead to feeling insecure. And, it can drive you to strive in all sorts of ways to be acknowledged and appreciated only to end up feeling worse.
But what if it was God’s plan to keep you hidden and unseen?
As I shared in my previous post, Leaving the Silent Season, our family suffered great heartache from a church we used to attend. When the Lord brought us to our new church, we were in a season of restoration, as He called us to come back to our first love…Jesus! And we welcomed the refreshing!
Being a new member made it easy to be still and be restored, but as time went on I wanted desperately to jump back into ministry. I led women’s ministries for over a decade and am passionate about teaching and pouring into women, “pulling out the gold in them”, and helping them pursue their God-given calling. I deliberately sought God for His plan for me at our new church home, wanting to make sure I didn’t serve where He didn’t want me. But to my shock, God closed all doors in Women’s Ministry. I not only didn’t lead a small group, but I wasn’t even able to attend one for quite awhile.
So at church, I looked for new ladies to meet and befriend. As women gathered together, I watched from the outside for opportunities to enter in. I would mingle and talk, but it always fell flat as no one really knew me. Over time, a few would say that they’d like to get together with me and it would take all of my control not to pounce on them with excitement and scare the heck out of them! But as busyness of life happens, I would only end up disappointed, as week after week passed by with no meeting materializing.
After some time, I made closer connections with a few. Sundays, to see my new friends and “family”, couldn’t come fast enough! But soon our church went through a huge transition, where our campus pastor and his wife and family, who became very dear friends of ours, were relocated to another campus. Almost everyone who I became close with, followed them to the new campus. Our family would follow them to the moon if we were able, but we knew we had to act in obedience and not our flesh. So, we did what we always do and prayed for God’s plan for us. I actually cried at His answer that it wasn’t time for us to move. I remember journaling as the Lord told me He was calling us to be “anchors” in this season, and literally being sarcastic in my response. “Wow! How exciting! I get to be an anchor!” Sometimes being obedient can be uncomfortable and even difficult at times, which I soon encountered.
With a new dynamic of younger 20 and 30-years-old attending our church campus, I felt even more displaced at my age. Each week I tried to start up conversations and meet new people, but it always seemed to end quickly as they’d see a friend and excuse themselves. These were all normal circumstances, but for me it only added to my feelings of being unseen and irrelevant. I cried so many weeks and months missing my other “church family” and had to avoid looking at their Facebook posts which were adorned with happy, smiling pics of them gathered together without me. I spent every Sunday morning putting on a fake smile and praying for a good day! Most days, I would come home and cry to God and ask Him why He was punishing me while “everyone else was loving church and having a great time!”
In these desperate moments on my face before God, He would gently and lovingly remind me of who I am and whose I am. He never grew impatient with me even though I was so over it myself! He would remind me that although “anchors” are often hidden and unseen, they were vital in their purpose. He kept reminding me that He always saw me. And as His “Deeply Rooted, Steadfast Disciple”, He was my ultimate source! Wow! That sounded great, but I was far from feeling like I was living up to that calling. I needed to stop my pity party and focus on intentionally being rooted in His rich, life-giving soil so He can develop me into His vision for me.
Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only that, but we also glory in our sufferings, knowing that our sufferings produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
One day when I was done whining and asking “Why???”, I remembered to ask God, “What Next?” As I listened to worship music while journaling my thoughts, God reminded me of something a friend of mine shared with me when she watched a group of women at an event and wondered why she wasn’t invited into their “popular” group. The Holy Spirit whispered to her heart and told her to take a step back and turn around. When she did, she saw so many women standing alone, longingly looking at the same group. And then the Holy Spirit whispered to her that she was there for them, not the other group.
Wow! The very next week at church, I started looking for the “one” who stood alone and began pouring into her. Even though I still felt alone at times, I kept seeking out the one the Holy Spirit would highlight to me and to my amazement, we both got ministered to!
While, reading the book “Rooted, The Hidden Places Where God Develops You” by Banning Liebscher, the Director of Jesus Culture, God opened my eyes and grew me so much! Banning taught on how to thrive in the process of being deeply rooted. He shared:
David wrestled with impossibilities, fear, heartbreak, disappointment, betrayal, anger, and grief. But every time, the wrestling drove him back to the source of his strength: God. And every time David accessed that strength, whether in the field, a house, a cave, or a castle, it led to his thriving.”
For us to navigate the same range of circumstances and find God, our strength in every situation, we have to know where to look and how to continue to look there in the face of the Enemy’s distractions. Typically, these distractions are going to try to get us to (1) wish we were in someone else’s process, (2) resist the lessons God is trying to teach us in our circumstances, (3) rush the process, or (4) skip steps in the process.
Well it was obvious I was being distracted! I immediately repented to Abba Father and asked Him to help me be patient in growing me into His vision for me.
As the enemy continued to shoot his fiery arrows at me, I had to remind myself to “stay in my lane” and focus on what God placed in front of me. I didn’t want to get distracted and stuck in the process, by focusing on what someone else was doing. I needed to constantly remind myself not to rush His process either, as I was learning that every assignment and lesson was vital to my foundation. Banning also shared:
If you don’t have all the components of your foundation, then when God adds the weight of your calling and vision to your life, your foundation won’t sustain it.
As I embraced His calling on me in this season, I met a lot of new people and made new friends who have blessed me so much! And in times when I still faced disappointment, heartache, fear, and offense, like David, I ran back to my source of strength, God Almighty, who gave me a clear visual of driven piles, pounded deeper and deeper into soil to provide foundation support. He reminded me that every time the enemy hit me with another blow, it caused me to run back to Him, thus driving me deeper into His rich soil!
As 2017 was coming to an end, the Lord revealed to me that He was releasing me in the Spring. In my spirit, I new it would involve Women’s Ministry, but I didn’t know how. I sensed March was significant so, I kept declaring March was my time to begin walking out His vision for me. And on March 2nd, I was honored to host a table at our Sisterhood Flourish Conference and continue leading the group for a few weeks following. When our Bible study ended, these beautiful sisters of mine had grown so close that we continued meeting. Our new Women’s Group, Kindred Core of Sisterhood, was formed and has grown with many new members of all ages and backgrounds, iron sharpening iron, bonding and growing in Christian leadership as each one steps up to lead monthly. I also have the joy and honor to be part of our Sisterhood S.O.A.P. (Scripture. Observation. Application. Prayer) Group where I get to meet with sweet sisters-in-Christ, studying, sharing Scripture and God’s call on each other. And of course, I still love meeting one-on-one with God’s precious daughters, pouring in and being poured into, as we share our personal journeys, struggles and triumphs.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t skip His process of growing me in the soil of intimacy, serving and community. I’m better equipped to serve in Women’s Ministry than I would have been when He first planted me at my wonderful church. I may have felt hidden and unseen at times by those around me, but I was always seen by Abba Father who showed me His everlasting love for me in ways I never realized!
If you’re in a season of waiting, of feeling hidden and unseen, hold tight to Him. Stay surrendered to His timing, assignments, and teachings. He’s preparing you to walk out His personal vision for you and you don’t want to miss any of it!