Her books and TED talks have shaped my way of thinking about topics like shame, vulnerability, authenticity, and bravery! I'm only 1/3 through this newest book and already find myself highlighting and wrestling with this idea of what belonging really means. So good!
My days have felt mundane for a while now... I revive weekly when I have the privilege of serving through Celebrate Recovery each Tuesday, while also working out my own hurts, habits and hangups - but the remaining days of the week have felt like a blur of dreary repetition. I've felt very unmotivated, like there is nothing good to hope for. My past was holding me hostage.
So a couple months ago when I stumbled upon a ministry that sparked my curiosity and adventure seeking nature, I was determined to find out more.
Emmaus Encounter is a debriefing ministry located in the beautiful mountains of NW Montana on Flathead Lake. It seemed to have ties to my long-time partnering ministry organization called Youth With A Mission - but in reality the facilitators just have years of experience through YWAM. Even so, that connection gave me peace of mind that these would be like-minded Jesus folks and I was right!
I applied through a quick and simple process online and was quickly approved. Excitement and uncertainty settled into my spirit. Excitement to finally be making a move to change my story which I felt so stuck in; and uncertainty because I had very little idea of what to expect. To be honest I was afraid to take a deeper look at my past for fear of what I might find - or not find. But you guys... Jesus met me and took me through a life changing encounter.
In scripture we can read about a day-long journey along the road to Emmaus where a couple disciples meet Jesus and have the greatest debrief in history (Read Luke 24:10-31 for their story.)... my week with Jan and Andy followed a similar path!
First of all... this is where I arrived. Set up in the guest apartment of Eagle's Nest. I could hardly believe this was real life, what luxury! I could wake to that mountain view forever. This place became a refuge where I put in a lot of personal work - transforming a normal living room into what I would call my own personal sanctuary.
What took place during those 5 days was nothing short of sacred. My debriefers, Jan and Andy were trustworthy, patient, attentive, encouraging, honest, and so incredibly helpful. I was able to process the last 10 years of my life. I was heard, my victories and struggles were validated, the pain and frustration was given perspective and most of all I learned that although I have an abundance of grace for people... I haven't given myself any measure of it. I had the revelation that I hold myself to unrealistic expectations of perfection and then punish myself internally with harsh criticism when I can't meet my own bar of excellence. I was challenged to see myself the way Jesus and those around me do. I saw patterns over the years where the enemy has tried to destroy my identity and rob me of hope.
I spent the week searching my soul, soaked in worship music, doing hard work to reveal my hidden hurts and aches of the heart by making a detailed timeline of my life, embracing solitude in the free afternoons and evenings, enjoying the gorgeous surroundings of nature in the Fall, and finally on my last evening I exchanged the lies that had been holding me hostage, for God's truth. I wrote out the exchanges on paper snowflakes and nailed them to the cross... fitting since I had just glimpsed a dusting of snow that morning and because Jesus' sacrifice washes me white as snow.
I left Emmaus Encounter changed. I gained the confidence and connection of the most amazing couple - people I will always be thankful for and look up to. I learned so much about myself - my behavior patterns to watch for, my thought life that needs more capturing, and more about my true identity in Christ. I feel closure over the last decade of events mostly because I got to say it all out loud, express my feelings over each experience, and see it all from a birds eye view. Jan and Andy have given me invaluable tools that will be beneficial for every area of life... practical things as well as knowledge to help guide me. They also gently and repeatedly redirected me to the face of Jesus. He is my source, strength, and sustainer. My relationship to Him will never fail to carry me through anything that comes in my future. And for the first time in a year... I am ready to move my life forward towards God's best for me! I refuse to stay stuck. I am free from the past chains that used to hold me back. Those chains were called fear and doubt - and they were lies. I am dreaming with the Lord and excited for His good plans for me!
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