Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and a piñata. These represent Thanksgiving to me. While the first four items might appear at your Thanksgiving celebration, I have yet to meet another family that celebrates with a piñata. As I begin to think about all I am thankful for this year, I am drawn towards an experience that I never thought I would be thankful for.
Last year, I was recovering from a very difficult period in my life. I worked a job doing something I loved, but where my employer emotionally abused me. Couple that with the fact that I got married one week after I got up the nerve to quit that job, I was in a severe downward spiral for the first weeks, even months, of my marriage. My self-esteem was shattered, I was angry with myself for not being strong enough to stick out the situation, and I was angry with God for allowing me to be in that situation in the first place.
Around this same time, my connections to BelPres were growing thanks to my friendship with Jesse Rice. I started spending more time on the BelPres website listening to past sermons. One day, I came across the Child Care Center page and emailed Di Alexander asking to meet about working in the Center.
Di placed me in the Turning 3s classroom with two amazing women, Sarah and Katie. Working with the kids and sharing with them the simple truth that Jesus loves them helped me open my heart up again to vulnerability within my marriage and my relationship with Christ. I was too ashamed of my experience to share with them, but simply being with them and experiencing their love, support, and kindness, gave me the courage I needed to be unreserved again in my spiritual walk and my marriage. I realize how blessed I am to have come through that experience with my eyes still on Jesus.
It’s not always easy for me. I struggle with self-worth and the many ways I was shamed and made to feel less than worthy. But without BelPres, the opportunity given to me by Di, and the community fostered by the women in the Child Care Center, I doubt that I would be approaching thankfulness for the experience. It led me to a job I love and, more importantly, to a deeply trusting relationship with God.
“I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.” – Helen Keller