“Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart.” – Jeremiah 1:5 CEB
I couldn’t find that journal entry even if I tried. I intentionally destroyed many journals several years ago because I didn’t realize how intensely personal they were until I stumbled across them in a forgotten pile of junk. Long before texts, screenshots and someone picking up the other phone in the house; marble or spiral notebooks and gifted journals held all of my secrets.
And they were safe.
Well except that time my little brother wrote back to me – IN my diary!! “That’s not how it happened!”, he scribbled. Ugh. The audacity of him; my fellow Brooklyn Brownstone Sheltered Creative. As if his banging on the drums at odd hours wasn’t enough.
Nonetheless I digress.
Fast forward to the year 2000. Married two years at the time, God had been seriously bothering dealing with me and refused to let a Sista go. Still adjusting to being married to a musician with a hectic touring schedule; I had just come to terms with my inability to have children. I remember God giving me instructions during a private moment of prayer one day and me being very blasé about them:
- Prepare to be a mother.
- Prepare to preach.
- Prepare to ________.
- Write it down.
Though every effort to help obey God was given; that third one still remains unfulfilled and has been kindly rerouted to my eye rolling “LORD YOU KNOW!” file. But the other two instructions were different.
When God said, “Prepare to be a mother” during my private moment of high praise His whisper was so strong I turned around! It was though He didn’t get the memo that I couldn’t have kids. And to boot, prophecies about me being a mom had been popping up so much I started tuning them out. They were frequent, always from strangers and always at the end of a church service or conference I sung at! One in particular was extremely specific…
I remember I had just finished singing and a few minutes later was called to the altar by the conference host and told to stand in a specific intercessor’s line. This was and is still NOT my norm. Never been quick to jump in a prayer line. I don’t play with that. I’m old school Honty. This means I ain’t eating everybody’s cooking and everybody ain’t laying hands on me either! Be done messed around and picked up something I can’t shake; Ok?! Anyway, the intercessor asked me where my children where as though I was supposed to bring them up for prayer too, so I explained that I didn’t have children. The intercessor immediately responded, ” I see three. A girl and two boys”.
You ever believe God for something for so long you either forget about it, question you heard Him or just turn that part of you off because it hurts too much to believe?
Who knew two years later I’d give birth to our first child Kayla; a preemie born 6 weeks early. Our second; Kevin Jr. was a 10 lb 7oz giant born two years later. And then our third child Kyle, the angel I never got to hold; passed away a year later. A girl and then two boys just like the prophetic intercessor said? The agony of being barren, giving birth to a preemie, a full term baby and then the devastation of a miscarriage? God who did I go through all of that for? Because that pain and uncertainty I endured could not have been just for me!
Wait and to think God said, “Prepare to preach” at the same time! He told me to prepare to be a mother when I couldn’t have kids. Huh?! It was like God was running a two for one special confirmation combo that day; so that if one word had been established in the mouth of 2-3 witnesses AND came to pass, surely I had heard God right! I mean I wrote it down in my journal and all but I wasn’t trying to hear that. I wanted to be a mother but I didn’t want to be a preacher. Who wants to be a preacher? Yes. Ok. Music Ministry. But please Lord not… preaching.
I was surrounded by so many opinionated people on both sides – I chose to share it with no one. Some felt women weren’t called to preach, others said Miriam, the sister of Moses, was just one of many female prophets God used in the Bible days. Others could care less but didn’t think there was anything wrong with women being Sunday School teachers, teaching Women’s Bible Study or preaching once a year on Women’s Day. I knew I wasn’t called to pastor a church so I enjoyed flying under the radar for as long as I could.
But God’s voice was so persistent I went to my father in law love who was my pastor at the time and told him I felt called to preach. He was supportive but made it very clear that he’d be in prayer for confirmation of my calling.
I closed out the year 2000 by preaching my first sermon: “Ready, Willing and Disabled. It was right on the heels of a terrible NJ Turnpike car accident my husband and I had survived only two days prior. I saw the front left tire of the car to the right of us dance across the highway before it crashed through our front windshield; stopping about an inch shy of my husband’s face. The glass that shattered on him from head to lap as we swerved across the highway, fell off his face like water. We walked away with not one scratch…
I could go on and on but there’s only one reason I chose to share all of this today. It was just gonna be a two line Facebook post about me being my Mommy’s twin as seen in the featured image for this post but God kept laying you on my heart.
As a poet and writer of “tastefully done grown folk-isms”; I know what it’s like to struggle with being called to ministry both in and outside the four walls of the church. It is not easy. It really isn’t. If you are questioning your calling because it doesn’t fit into a box and neither do you, I cannot stress the importance of knowing God’s voice for yourself. I believe if we weren’t so hard on those whose calling went beyond handing out programs, welcoming the visitors and singing in the choir; more people wouldn’t feel shunned or question their life’s purpose.
I’m GUILTY of at one time being ignorant of what some refer to as Marketplace Ministry (non traditional) life callings. I didn’t understand, know anything about nor understood ministry beyond churchdom. I really didn’t. And like most of us until we learn better; I was judgmental of what I did not understand. But I understand now; and it’s really important to me that I’m part of the solution, not part of the problem. Though eventually licensed to preach in 2010 and at that time a MDiv/MSW dual degree seminary student; my life has since taken a SERIES of twists and turns. After only one semester my whole life changed drastically.
Here I am a very different woman than I was 8 years ago. But even after everything I’ve been through, three things have remained the same. My love for God, my love for all races/cultures and my unwavering burden to help the hurting; not ostracize or further damage them because we think differently.
Maybe you know you’re built for so much more. But you have stopped dreaming, praying and talking about the things you want to do because nothing seems to be going right or you lack support. Maybe you’ve questioned your calling because you don’t feel qualified.
So say it with me…
Love you to life & cheering you on from the sidelines…💫e
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Photo Credits: My Mommy (holding me), Google Images, Pinterest Sopha Rush, Dharius Daniels, AC. Sparks. No copyright infringement intended.