Meet Michelle! She and I have known each other for a few years now, we met at church (where she is on staff) and this woman is the real deal. There are no words to describe how genuine and real she is. When I first met her, through a mutual friend, I had just graduated college in 2016 and was not happy about coming back to Charleston. I didn't want to move back home, not because I didn't love it here (I love my family) but I wanted to be out on my own and making career moves and be independent but God had other plans. I went to church one Sunday and she introduced herself and I could tell she was a real one; what I mean is, I could tell that Michelle was one of those people who were super passionate about what they did and the life they lived and wasn't afraid to be unabashed in the way she lived her life. That was super refreshing to encounter, especially in the church world. If you aren't familiar, the church world is filled with a lot of wonderful people, not so nice people. Spirit led people, completely misguided people, those who are suffering for the cause of Christ and those who seem to be living perfect lives without any struggles whatsoever. I know this is true of any circle of people in the world but there is just something about Church world that makes it very difficult to navigate sometimes. Here we are, communing under one name (Jesus) and yet there is so much disunity within the body of Christ, it can be very confronting. The one thing I was looking for when I moved back was community that stuck together and she quickly became apart of that for me. Though we don't get to hang out often, the time spent with her is so intentional and purpose filled!
As we got to know each other, we bonded over many things: racial reconciliation and reparations within the church, pursuing intentional healing of the heart for groups of people who have been hurt by the church, understanding the need for women in ministry (and conversing about the dichotomy that surrounds it), mental health & faith, and so much more. But most importantly, we have often times discussed the burning desire and need for more transparency within the church, vulnerability of God's children to one another, honesty about how we are doing in life and as a body of Christ, and practical ways of living a life that is aimed at pursuing other people in a healthy and healing way while staying true to the calling placed on your life and keeping filled (meaning staying at a healthy level in all areas of your life so you can have the energy to go out and make change happen). Michelle is someone who lives so authentically and is so open about how she does ministry. I always tell people to have a friend like her in their life because not only does she listen so well but she speaks into the areas of our lives that need both encouragement and rest, confirming and holding accountable. It is all too rare to encounter people like her.
Recently, I had the chance to catch up with her over coffee before the holidays and we were talking about where life was taking us and how we dealt with uncertainty. So much wisdom was brought to the table and I wanted to share with you something she told me about being in ministry and how she follows her calling for her life:
"People have this misconception that ministry is condensed to a Sunday, working at a church, interacting with tons of people but it's so much more than that. It's in the way I put away my groceries when I get home and decompress after a hard day the time I spend in coffee shops having conversations like this. You don't have to be on a public stage to have influence in people's lives and just because you're there doesn't mean you're actually reach every person there. Whether you're a Beth Moore speaking at a conference of thousands of women or a staff worker at a church pouring into the lives of a few people in a small town on a weekday, I'm so convinced that God looks at both woman and says, "Gosh I love those two so much and what they're doing in the name of obedience for the kingdom." That's what I liev form living my life in the way He's called me to and doing so boldly and authentically and not letting anyone tell me I'm doing it wrong."
So good y'all!! The way you live your life and fulfill your calling doesn't have to look the way other people think it should. Michelle told me that there are days when she wants to look super put together and wear makeup and dress nicely in order to power through her day but there are other days where she doesn't have that kind of energy and it's ok to have days like that. It doesn't take away from the quality of her work and it doesn't mean she is any less qualified or able to do what she has been called to do. It's so refreshing to see people like Michelle living this way and refusing to be shamed into a box for how her ministry and life is supposed to look. Because at the end of the day, no one will care what your wore but they'll remember how heard and seen they felt when they had a conversation with you. That's what's most important!
It was so nice getting to chat and hang out with her and I guarantee you this: the world would be a lot different if we all looked at life the way Michelle does. This isn't meant to compare but to challenge our way of thinking about life and how we are supposed to live it. I fully believe we are meant to live, not just survive but truly live, and to do so with caution thrown to the wind and purpose filled in our hearts. How wonderful would that be?