Last week, I stepped out on faith and applied for a really cool opportunity for my future. It’s completely in God’s hands and now I just wait. When I sent in my application I also sent with it some recommendation letters from a few of the kids I have worked with in the Rock Youth Ministry for the past 5 years. I simply asked them to write how God used me, if at all, to contribute to their spiritual growth. In the midst of a letter from one them, I read this:
“This past year Jenilee went through a divorce with my former Youth Pastor, and at the time I was close to both of them. I expected Jenilee to be broken, lost, and to not know how to pick up the pieces of her life. Instead Jenilee has been an influence to everyone around her. Jenilee has given God so much glory for allowing her to go through such a tribulation, and being more in love with God then she ever was before, through both celebrations an tribulations.”
Wow. I won’t lie- at the end of his letter, I was in tears. I hadn’t asked him to comment about my divorce, but he did, and his comment was a huge encouragement to me. Because, if I was honest, this whole time in the secrecy and quietness of my at-times very scary mind, I wondered what the students thought of me. Did the failure of my marriage hurt them? We led the youth ministry for years. I know they looked up to us and as students so often do, put us on a pedestal. Did it make them doubt God? Did they still believe in the sacredness and commitment of marriage? Did they lose respect for me? At times, it’s felt like the big elephant in the room. I’m sure they see me alone and wonder exactly what happened. I’m sure they’ve heard plenty of rumors. I know they know how hurt I’ve been and how betrayed I’ve felt.
I remember going back to the youth ministry on September 22, 2010 to lead worship for the first time since the breakup of my marriage. It was an incredible feeling. For the first time, I was onstage worshipping, and the glass house had been broken. I was simply an imperfect human, just like every one else, worshipping a perfect God. I sang the words, “It’s just You and me here now,” and it’s never felt more real.
I don’t know how everyone views me now, but I know at least to that one kid, I’ve been able to be an example – to trust God and have faith that He can make something beautiful out of all the debris.
One last thing – after reading their letters, I realized that the most spiritual students from the Rock had faced some of the greatest harships – one boy’s dad died a year ago in a motorcycle accident, one girl’s family lost everything when the economy tanked, etc. There’s just something about God testing those who are strong. It’s like He’s never content with where we’re at because He always sees a far greater potential and He will use WHATEVER it takes to get us to that greater place.