taking the first step

Taking the first step into something new can be terrifying. Especially when it’s something completely unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone. Its easy to doubt yourself during these times. But did you know that even heroes of the Bible doubted themselves before they stepped into something new? Allow me to share with you my own story of taking steps of faith as well as share a hero’s story from the Bible.

This past month, I had the opportunity to attend the She Speaks Christian Women’s Writing Conference right here in my backyard in Charlotte. It was 3-day writing, speaking, and leading conference full of 750+ other like- minded gals all pursuing their passion. Like me, most were new and unfamiliar to this.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about how I left my VP corporate career in finance 2 years ago to pursue a passion on my heart for women. A passion that’s been on my heart since I was a little girl. That day two years ago, I was full of excitement, yet even more full of fear, because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I had NO IDEA where to start. But mostly I thought WHO AM I to step out of everything I’ve ever known and influence women?

It was roller coaster of emotions. Some of the questions I wrestled with myself:

  • who is going to listen to me?
  • what exactly do I have to give that is unique enough to share with other women?
  • where do I even start?

I have always been blessed with a lot of amazing girlfriends, as I am without a doubt, a girl’s girl. I’ve always had girlfriends confide in me with issues they were going through. And I’ve been able to create a space of no judgement able to give sound advice. But yet I still wrestled with wondering what business did I have speaking to them about LIFE and encouraging them with my not so perfect decisions I’ve made in my past? I didn’t feel I had the qualifications to step into this new calling.

I felt unequipped, unqualified, and inadequate.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past 2 years, I said myself “this new chapter in my life was too unknown and too unfamiliar, so I was just going to go back into the finance industry and pick up my career where I left off.” But then every time this happened, God divinely and intentionally pulled my heart back in. I KNEW without a doubt I was to pursue this passion of working with women. Not to mention, I had a husband that gave me a wide open canvas of freedom to do whatever my heart wanted. And I’m not just talking about him working hard and providing for me financially in order to do so…which I’m forever grateful for. But bless his heart, he has listened for countless hours about all the new ideas fresh on my mind and then me changing my ideas week after week. And every attempt to take a small baby step usually involved tears like a baby too. And my sweet husband was along for the ride. (I love you bubba)

My first actual step was posting my first blog post. I know this may seem simple for some of you. But ladies – it took me 18 months to do that. 18 MONTHS! I remember my hand was shaking when I hit the publish button. And I’m pretty sure only 3 people read that first post. My husband, mom and dad. HA!

That first step of obedience into what God was calling me into, was an important step because I realized God was with me even in the small baby step of posting my first blog post. Sometimes we wait and wait for a sign or hope that God will roll out a red carpet from Heaven to tell us what to do next. That He’ll lay it all out in an organized way. But what if God is just waiting for us to take the first step? And then the next step, and every step after that with Him by our side? And the areas you feel weak or scared, what if He gave you ALL that you would need to accomplish the work for Him?

An example in the Bible of one who doubted taking the first step was Moses. Moses didn’t feel adequate enough either. Yes, the hero Moses.  He felt insecure and didn’t think He was the person for the task God had called him to. When we think of the life of Moses, we think of the parting of the Red Sea. Leading the Israelites through the wilderness. Receiving the 10 commandments. Just to name some of the few significant things he did for God. 

But before Moses started his ministry, he questioned his own ability. He had no idea the Red Sea was going to part or that he was going to be one of the pillars of faith in the Bible. He didn’t know that for generations and centuries after him, that we would know his name.

When God met Moses at the burning bush and told him He had called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, do you know what Moses responses was? Exodus 4:10 says that Moses pleaded with the Lord saying “Oh Lord, I am not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

Moses was doubting his own ability. God replied to him in Verses 11-12 “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see, or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?” Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

WOW! The Moses we all know as a hero of the Bible doubted himself too asking God the same questions I wrestled with, “why me?” He didn’t feel qualified. He even goes a step further in Verse 13 and says “Lord, please send anyone else.”

It’s so easy for us to think these characters of the Bible just went out with courage and confidence easily and never had any doubt in their mind because we know the end of the story. If we look at this scenario from the eyes of Moses, we realize that he didn’t know all those things were going to happen. Just like myself, all Moses knew is that God was calling him to do something. He didn’t know how it was going to end up.

Where in your life do you feel God is calling you? Where do you feel inadequate? Maybe you are a new wife and a new mom and feel like you don’t know what you are doing? Maybe you don’t feel like seeking that promotion at work or switching careers because you don’t feel like you’re qualified. Or perhaps you are settling in a relationship where you know God has called you elsewhere, but you’re too scared to take the step to get out.

I spent far too long feeling this way. Letting the lies of the enemy dictate me not taking steps. I let fear hold me from taking the small first step. It’s about taking each day and giving it to God, and taking each step with him. I realized as I began taking each step. God met me right there leading me and guiding me through every small step, every fear, every wall, every doubt, every lie, every moment on this journey.

I know that the conference I attended was God’s preparation to have me step out into my calling. I was nervous, but also felt like God equipped me for it the past 6 months as I’ve been taking baby steps leading up to the conference. Yes, God knew my brokenness, my imperfect life, my bad choices, my hurts, and all my weaknesses.

God kept saying to me, ‘Alisha, I’m going to use every single aspect of your life and use it to help others. What the enemy meant for evil to hurt you, I am going to turn it around and use it for the greater good and for my glory. “For I have plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Scripture promises us in 2 Peter 1:3 that “by His divine power, God has give us everything we need.” Isaiah 41:10 says “don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Ladies, do you hear what God says in His word to us? We are called to His purpose. It might not be without trials and a fight along the way, but He has big plans for us, He has equipped us, giving us everything we need, and will strengthen us and be with us, and we WILL be victorious. These are God’s PROMISES to us! It’s time we STEP into these promises.

I stepped out in faith last month to attend a conference I’d never been to, in an industry I’ve never been a part of, with a group of women I’ve never met. I was welcomed with an overflowing amount of open arms. I met amazing influencers, authors, speakers, publishers, editors, agents and Bible teachers. I gained so much knowledge and new friendships that I’ll keep in my pocket for a lifetime. Through the conference, I was given the opportunity to  became a freelance writer for three large Christian sites (www.iBelieve.com, www.Christianity.com, www.Crosswalk.com). And my very first published article as a writer went live this past week. (click on this link to view published article)

If I never took the step, this opportunity would have never opened up for me.

God knows the plan, even though I don’t. He knew the plan for Moses, even though Moses didn’t. Our job is to just follow Him in obedience ONE STEP AT A TIME. I can’t wait to see God continue to move in my life and part the sea for me as I continue to take one step at a time into what He has called me to do. And although I have NO IDEA what I’m doing, I’m just going to do the next thing. Because thankfully, our God sure knows what to do!

Be encouraged if you are struggling with the feeling that you are called but unequipped, unqualified, inadequate, that you would let God meet you exactly where you are and that He will make a way for you. Trust him in the next step girl. You got this!

XoXo

(below are a few pictures from the conference including some of my favorite authors who were speakers at the event: www.lysaterkeurst.com, www.jamieivey.com, www.wendyblight.com, www.biancaolthoff.com)

Lysa TerKeurst
Jamie Ivey
Wendy Blight
Bianca Olthoff

there is purpose in the pain

Grief. I hate that word. But grief is something we have all experienced or if you haven’t yet, you will someday. Afterall, death is the only guarantee in life.

Grief comes in many forms. From saying goodbye to an old friendship or relationship, to closing a chapter in an old career and pursuing a new one. We grieve many things through out our lives. Webster’s dictionary describes grief as: sorrow, misery, sadness, anguish, pain, suffering, heartache. It’s a heaviness in heart and most of us have felt it in some way.

Pain is pain, and all pain hurts. But the worst kind of pain was the pain and loss I felt when I lost my older brother Benji. He was the young age of 33 when he died.

His story is definitely that story you hear or read about. A story about how a good person is gone way too soon. He lived a great life.  He married his high school sweetheart and was always madly in love with her. He had two beautiful healthy boys. He helped start and build a tech company that was just months away from going public before he died. Not to mention, he was just an amazing guy. They say ‘only the good die young’, and I can say from the bottom of my heart, Benji was one of them.

Cancer got a hold of him. He was not feeling well and after a couple months, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung stem cell cancer found in his stomach. He was gone 7 months later. Did we know he was going to die? No. He did the chemo treatments and we came together like a family and all had the high hope that he would come through healed on the other side.

It was this same week in July of 2013, the week of his birthday, that he was forced to have an emergency surgery to get his colon removed. However, removing his colon would mean he had to quit chemo and therefore there was no cure for his cancer. The doctors told him they were sending him home, and there was nothing else we could do for him. They were sending him home to die.

I’ll never forgot the call I received from him. He called me to tell me the news. All I could do was cry. And the crazy part about it, all he did was listen and tell me that he’s here for me and I could talk to him about anything I was feeling. He was asking me if I was ok, and how I was handling it all. He was the one dying, the one who had to say goodbye to his wife of 13 years and his sons, yet he was so worried about how I was doing? Somehow, he was all our strong rocks when he was the one suffering and physically weak in pain.

How do you prepare to say goodbye to someone you love for the very last time? I was living in California at the time so I came home every weekend to be with him. We all watched him slowly deteriorate in a short 6 weeks. We spent his last birthday with him in the hospital after he had his surgery. We had nights where we would stay up and talk all night about life, and how much we loved each other. We laughed, we cried. At one point,  we even got into an argument where I was the dramatic little sister that felt bullied by my older brother and so I did what any mature woman about to turn 30 does, I deleted him as my friend on Facebook. HA! But that only lasted a few hours.

I cherish those final moments with him. But throughout those final weeks, it wasn’t sitting well with me. I couldn’t make sense of it all. Why would God take him away? Why wouldn’t God heal him right then and there? Afterall, he was God. And Benji was a devout Christian. How cruel of God to do this to our family. Benji was intuitive and a man full of wisdom. He knew I wasn’t ok and I’ll never forgot one of the last conversations we had. I was telling him my hurt and confusion. My confusion around this God that he spoke so highly of. At this time of my life, I knew who God was, I knew Scripture. But I didn’t walk with the Lord or have any personal relationship with Him.

After voicing my confusion, Benji answered me saying “Alisha, it wasn’t God that gave me this cancer. Cancer, as well as sin and many other diseases, entered the world during the fall of Adam and Eve. In fact, God cries with me every night. He tells me He’s so sorry I have to go through this and sorry I have to say goodbye to everyone I love. He’s sitting right here with me through this all and he loves me”. WOW! at the time, I didn’t understand the whole Adam and Eve comment. My brother is dying and he’s talking about an old school story in the Bible? Whatever. But this is what started my journey to studying the Bible and turning my heart to the loving God my brother was talking about. This is where I found hope in in this pain.

Why does God allow pain? Why does God heal some cancer and doesn’t heal others? I don’t have that answer. But I do know there is purpose and promise in the pain. And its ok that we don’t have the reason as to why. God knows the bigger picture. And although losing my brother was one of the hardest things I had to walk through, I do know we have a God that has a plan. and taking my brother early was part of the plan.

Allow me to summarize the main story of the Bible in a few short paragraphs. It helps paint the picture my brother was describing that night. The world was perfection in the beginning. Adam and Eve sinned and brought the evil and death into the world. However, God promises perfection in the end. It starts with perfection in Genesis, and ends with perfection in Revelation. God sent his son, his very OWN son to die on the cross for us to alleviate us from living in a sinful world forever. I’m not sure I could give up my favorite outfit or favorite pair of shoes, let alone a child haha. Oh, how I love my clothes. But God loved us so much, that he gave us His own son to die to save us from living a life in this perishable world. Now that’s love. In fact, the whole Bible is just one whole love story for God fighting for us back, fighting for the perfection that the enemy stole from us in the beginning. John 3:16 says “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life”.

We are not stuck in this cancer-filled, brokenheart-filled, sadness-filled, sin-filled world forever. We have perfection waiting for us on the other side. WOW. Let that sink in. God promises in Revelation 21:4 that He will “wipe away every tear from your eyes…there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain.”

I miss my brother so much. And today, he would be 39 years old if he was here. But God called my brother home because He has a different job for him, fighting a war. As Ephesians 6:12 tells us “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rules and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” I think about my brother daily. I often think about what he’s doing. I know he’s got a job. He finished his life here on earth to completion and is helping God and His army finish a job in the Heavenly realm too. I know he’s with the same God I pray to every day and I find that pretty cool. The last thing Benji told me is that he’ll be busy and that time flies by and he’ll see me soon.

God still has me here on earth fulfilling a purpose, just like my brother fulfilled his purpose here too. Remember – God sees the bigger picture. He knows how this story ends and is using you as a character with a purpose. I’m not sure what sort of disappointment you are facing today, but just remember to TRUST the Author. To trust our God who sees the bigger picture. Trust the Author because he wrote he story. And He knows the beginning to the end, so we can rest assured, we are in good hands.

To everyone who is reading this, I hope this helps whenever you go through are faced with anything painful. And don’t forget to raise a glass for my brother at some point today. To Benji, Happy Birthday from the other side. Your little sister misses you.

XoXo,

Alisha Headley