In January 2017 I told my husband I needed to go see my best friend in Michigan. I hadn’t seen her in years and something was stirring inside of me about my faith. I wanted to talk to her face to face.
I was born and raised in The Episcopal Church (my home church is St. Luke’s Episcopal in Jamestown, NY). I was baptized, Confirmed and married in TEC. My children are baptized in TEC, too. Due to my husband’s military career, I have attended many different churches but never really felt at home…or really “got it”. Something was missing. There ended up being many years of my adult life I was not attending church. I was very lost. Very confused. Through books and following different people, I dabbled in different ideas and beautiful religions. However, nothing really set or made sense to me.
A few months before my trip to Michigan, I was invited to join a Bible Study with a very small group of ARMY wives. To be honest, when we got together I didn’t really understand anything that was being said. I’m not someone who knows the Bible stories and scripture off the top of my head. All I knew was some of the theologies didn’t resonate with me and yet, I still kept showing up. Did I really believe any of this? That this was “the way”? However, there was something about sitting around a table with loving women, talking about God, being vulnerable and drinking tea that completely filled my soul. I felt something there. It sparked something inside of me. It was an invitation to come back to my faith. To #turn back to Jesus and begin to learn The Episcopal Church as an adult. I was confirmed in 1997 at the age of 14, so to say I remember anything would be a lie. I had questions. Big questions.
I needed to talk to someone who could “go there” with me. Someone whose knowledge and ideas I could trust. I was in luck because my very best friend since infancy is an Episcopal Priest. I found myself booking a ticket from Oklahoma to Michigan. In March, I was on my way to Kay.
Kay is the priest in charge at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lexington, MI. She had to work while I was visiting so I just hung out in her office. After trying to organize her books by color (I never did finish, sorry Kay.), I told her I was going to go look around. I wanted to go check out the place. I would have never thought that the most special moment of my entire life was about to take place. I stepped into the quiet, dark and still sanctuary of Trinity. I was overcome. Overcome with something I couldn’t explain. I started sobbing. Uncontrollable crying. I had no idea what just happened to me. As someone who rarely cries, I surrendered to the tears. I suddenly felt okay that I didn’t understand any of it, that I had questions of doubt and that my life didn’t align as the image of a “perfect Christian woman”. I felt home, accepted and completely, unconditionally loved.
(Later when I began spiritual direction, my spiritual director, Cheryl, explained something to me that I couldn’t make sense of at the time. What I experienced was the Holy Spirit.)
That day was extremely windy and cold in Michigan. It was so windy the electricity ended up going out. So, that insanely cold night, Kay, her husband (Matthew) and I sat around the kitchen table with candles lit, all bundled up in our coats and blankets and we talked. This was my moment. I explained what happened in the church (and began crying again). I explained that I had questions. We ended up talking for hours. Kay and Matthew held the most loving space for me and answered every single question I had. Hard questions like where do we go when we die? Was Mary really a virgin? Dinosaurs? Big Bang? Their answers brought me peace. Their answers resonated with me 100%. Their answers made sense. I found my spiritual home again. This was why I was being called to come to Michigan.
This visit changed the entire course of my life. I had to be completely removed from my normal life to experience what I did that day. I had to go outside my comfort zone (and leave my family behind) and be completely open and vulnerable.
My journey of #turning was not only for myself, my husband and my children. It was for you. When I came to Michigan, I wanted to talk to Kay about the idea of creating a community of Episcopalian women. Although, at the time, I didn’t feel worthy in all of my muck to begin something so special. Then I wondered if maybe that’s what made it real and authentic? With Kay’s brilliance and my creative eye, I knew we could make something big and beautiful. The Holy Spirit would guide us. And, She did.
In August 2018, thanks to my church St. Andrew’s in Lawton, OK, I went to St. Crispin’s Conference Center near Oklahoma City for Cursillo. At the end of the weekend, a cross was placed around my neck with the remembrance that God is counting on me. It was my gentle nudge that I have work to do here in the world. It was time to move forward in bravery and love. In October, Her Way of Love was born. The best part of it is that not only is it a place for Episcopalian women, but people of all backgrounds and their understanding of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s a place of Love.
I am so deeply grateful for this journey I have been on. I continue to show up vulnerable, open and ready to learn. This is my story of #turn.
What about you? Do you have a story of experiencing the Holy Spirit? Do you have a story of your faith? Of #turning? We’d love to hear.
Walking in love,
PS) Thank you to my best friend and soul mate, Kay. You continue to awaken my life. I love you.