God's Brave Women - Michelle's Story
As a young child, I always knew I was different. This "knowing" wasn't coming from an external world, it was coming from the inside. This "difference" inside of me was a powerful force that intrigued me to cultivate. When cultivated and nurtured, that force took me to places beyond what I had hoped for. Places where good overcomes bad and benefits many – very HAPPY places! I wanted to keep going to those places as a girl! Those places were contrary to the external environment of poverty, mental illness and running from pedophiles I experienced in childhood. I did time in foster care. But honestly, I do not remember being afraid. This force inside me comforted me, protected me and guided me. I did not recognize that force was Jesus until I was 9 years old and given to my paternal grandmother.
I was not raised in a nuclear family but always felt loved. Unconditional love was shown to me by my nana, I felt love and respect from two step-fathers, and my mother believed my life was guided by the north star. She had delusions of grandeur. She never recovered emotionally from the motor vehicle accident on Mother’s Day 1972 that we (my mother 4-5 months pregnant with me) were involved in that killed my father at age 17 and three others. I have two brothers, neither of which I shared a home with for long. I love them dearly, and we catch up wherever we leave off. And then there is my sister, Jess. She is not my real sister, she's my paternal aunt that I had the pleasure to grow up with. We had so many great adventures. I knew I was safe when I went to live with my Nana.
My Nana worked at the school so we could have a religious education. I knew education was my ticket out of poverty. The priests encouraged my college education by taking me to colleges and helping me enhance my social skills, always respecting my differences as an asset. My nana was the greatest example of bravery to me, raising three children on her own. My nana never saw herself as brave but surrounded herself with loving and interesting people. I am the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and I worked hard to obtain my advanced degree and certifications.
I did not see myself as brave until I married a man with two adopted children from a previous marriage. We then had two more children. You have to be brave to raise a family, much less a blended family, in a god-forsaken world. Bravery comes with a price but is worth the investment. You see, we are ALL different. We have to be to fulfill God's ultimate design for mankind. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." And 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light". I pray for a world where we embrace our differences and respect others to live our most prosperous life in joy. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I Know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
"I am brave because I give my life to God, make the best attempt to submit to His will and love others the best I can, no matter how they treat me."
I am brave because I give my life to God, make the best attempt to submit to His will and love others the best I can, no matter how they treat me. Trust me, this is not easy on a consistent basis. This kind of bravery comes with a price. This view I have is not popular among a majority of our "politically correct" population that I interact with daily. Currently, my external world seems so far from my internal forces that without daily, I mean several times daily, talks with my Heavenly Father, I could get lost so easily. I have been lost more than a few times. The world tells you "God helps those who help themselves", IF they even believe in Him. God whispers to me, telling me that I am precious in His sight and I can't do anything to make Him turn away from me. My internal world is much more comforting and gives me strength to endure.
I succumbed to the external world and left my husband in January 2018. We had so many distractions from the outside that invaded our home and our ability to relate to our extended family. This left our hearts completely broken. My husband did not give up the fight. I resisted. With the help of our Christian network, my hardened heart was softened to allow forgiveness mend my broken marriage. It had to be a forgiveness on both sides, without judgment, to be effective. We renewed our wedding vows and by the end of 2018, had a new approach to our union. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "One person can be overpowered, but two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made of three cords isn't easily broken". I was also inspired by a quote from Steve Perry (Journey) in an interview about his recent return to music, "I thought I had a pretty good heart, but a heart isn't really complete until it is completely broken."
"I was also inspired by a quote from Steve Perry (Journey) in an interview about his recent return to music, "I thought I had a pretty good heart, but a heart isn't really complete until it is completely broken."'
This newfound vision now helps me to embrace my bravery and encourage others to do the same. And my mended heart is much stronger than my previous one. I love more deeply and have more gratitude for the simple pleasures. To maintain this level of bravery, I must guard my heart and talk with God daily. If I am distracted, I cannot hear Him. I remember a childhood song, "be careful little eyes what you see… 'cause the Father up above is looking down in love." My husband lovingly informs me when to limit my time watching forensic psychology shows, and I foster the loving relationship with him and each of our children. I have daily conversations with my children about the music they listen to and the things they see in their world. And I do not go where others don't want me, unless God tells me to. I have learned, these are just the things you need to do to survive in the modern world. But above all, I will go where He sends me. Maybe not willingly, or when I want to, but I will go. I will go brave, knowing the world will be a constant challenge.
When we fully submit our lives to the will of God, miracles do happen. We benefit from fellowship with other brave people to keep our strength renewed. We have a mission to lead others to the love of Christ. After all, with the ultimate bravery, he paid the ultimate price. He died for our sins when he did nothing at all but love us, and he still loves us anyway. That is more than Brave. It’s RADICAL!
Michelle’s experience with family members with neurological problems and mental illness led her to pursue a career as a physician assistant. She is passionate about mental health awareness and believe in bringing greater awareness to the world and making it tangible. She believes that mental health is just as important as our physical health. She is a commissioned Stephen Minister (SM), who are lay people in the church that are trained to assist those in the grieving process. She’s married with four children and has always lived in the Midwest until recently moving to North Carolina, which was a bit of a culture shock. But she loves it! She loves Jesus, spending time outdoors, riding her motorcycle, live music, cooking, animals (especially llamas), boating and kayaking with her family. Feel free to connect with Michelle more on Facebook HERE.
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...