I’m No Longer a Slave to Fear, I am a Child of God: How God Moved in Me
This summer was my second summer serving in Appalachia with Score Domestic. Back in March, I began to question whether I was supposed to serve this summer. In the last year, I have been walking through a hard season of life and I have been overwhelmed emotionally and dried out spiritually. I started to believe the lie that I needed to somehow pull myself together before God could use me, or maybe, figure out my emotions and other struggles before I presented myself before the Lord. I held onto my hesitancy to serve through the first week in Wheelwright, but as the week progressed and I spent more time reflecting, alone and with others, I could see that God was about to do some work on me through these experiences.
One of the greatest lessons that I learned this summer came straight from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. As a perfectionist, this verse has been referenced a lot, but this summer, these words came alive. My first encounter this summer with this verse came in the form of a print-out in my binder from Sharon. Throughout the summer, God placed situations and circumstances that would emphasize the promise of this passage: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (ESV). Weakness and any type of vulnerability are things that I seek to cover up and hide from others. However, I learned this summer that those times of weakness are the moments where God uses me the most and builds the deepest connections with others. On one particular evening in Wheelwright, Kentucky, anxiety consumed me. I hid behind the counter in the church kitchen praying and crying out to God, begging Him to relieve me of my anxieties. Through those moments of prayer and clinging to the words from Psalm 94:19: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (NIV). Following those intense moments of anxiety, I was exhausted and was at my end, but I still had to deliver the devotion in only a few minutes. I remembered 2 Corinthians 12:9 and realized that it would not be in my strength, but in God’s strength. There was no way that I could have gotten up there on my own, I needed His strength. But I also needed my weakness to show me my need for His strength. I cannot do things on my own and I cannot attain perfection and I was not created to do so. These lessons flooded the devotions we shared about the Prodigal Son throughout the summer and every time, I was reminded again. My weakness is not something that I need to hide because in those moments of weakness, God’s strength is emphasized.
This summer also brought back the gift of joy. Over this past year, anxiety and depression became frequent visitors and it felt like my life had been sucked out of me. I confided in friends that I did not feel like “Mallory” anymore; I felt like a shell of myself. Despite spending the spring seeking counsel and guidance from trusted friends and a therapist, I still felt empty as Sharon and myself headed out for the first week in Wheelwright. The car ride and the first few days involved a lot of processing and reflecting, internally and with Sharon, in order to prepare for the summer. Over the course of that week, those two groups and Sharon made me laugh more than I had all year. It was as if the dust was being blown off me and my energy was returning. I cried one night because for the first time in months, I truly felt the joy of the Lord in my heart. I felt God’s presence flood in and I could see the end of the longest drought.
There were still moments where the old feelings of sadness and anxiety would creep in, but I was rooted in God’s word and His promises. God also provided perfect encouragement through my fellow staff members, the teams and members of the various communities. This summer allowed me to take the space and time to process this past year, and begin to reflect on the lessons that I learned in those dark places. God’s goodness and faithfulness became very clear to me as I saw His work in my life and the lives around me. I truly felt alive again and also felt a new Mallory emerging.
At the beginning of the summer, I decided I was going to try something new every day. Whether it was a new food, changing a routine, or something for personal growth, I recorded these things in a little journal. This goal helped me become less hesitant of change, while also releasing control and taking small risks. Doing this in the midst of serving in Appalachia provided many, many opportunities for growth. This stretching and growing was painful. It was difficult to embrace my weaknesses and be vulnerable enough to let others see those areas. However, I am thankful for the groups and the people who spoke into my life and reminded me of God’s truth.
I am thankful that God placed me where He did this summer. Even though some days were hard and I wanted to give up, I am thankful for the Sharon and Dean, who constantly encouraged me. I’m praising God for the growth and change that occurred within my heart this summer. Although more processing needs to take place and growing will continue, I’m full of hope and joy. In the coming months, I will hold onto these lessons and God’s promises, even in the midst of challenging circumstances. I know that this dark season was necessary for me and that God was working through it, I am ready to continue on into this new season.
Thank you, SCORE Domestic for giving me so many opportunities to serve, but also to see God moving. This summer was exactly what I needed and I was where I was supposed to be, even when it was hard. I’m so grateful for this time and for all the stories that I heard over the course of those eight weeks. My heart is bursting with love for the people of Appalachia and the teams that I served alongside of this summer. Although I am sad that the summer went by so