Up Close and Personal With Janice
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
When we go through a difficult time, we want it to end as soon as possible. We don't want to linger in the heartbreak or experience the pain of suffering. But for this particular story about our youngest staff, Janice, we’ll see how God allows things to fall apart so He can launch us into our calling.
The Effects Of Childhood Trauma
Janice had a traumatic experience when she was in elementary school during an activity performing a song in front of the class. While singing, her body trembled so much that she lost her voice and had to cut her performance short. Feeling overwhelmed, she ran back to her seat, but the whole class laughed at her. It left a wound in her heart too painful to want to experience again.
“Since then, I have hated standing up in front of people because I assume everyone will just make fun of me,” she says. Janice lost her confidence and never dared to express herself out loud because of fear of judgment.
But as a new creation in Christ, her hope was renewed. When her local church conducted a leadership training oriented toward introverts, she quickly joined. She became proud of the small wins she began to make and cherished the young disciple who was entrusted to her.
But a new season of pain hit Janice again after recovering from the pandemic and the schools got back to face-to-face classes. With the interrupted schedule, Janice tried all sorts of ways to stay in touch with her disciple. After finally connecting, she was crushed when her mentee asked for another leader. On the one hand she felt betrayed, on the other she blamed herself for losing another person in her life.
“It was the most painful experience for me. I was deeply hurt , took this to heart, and concluded that I wasn’t effective in leading people,” she recalls.
With this painful experience, Janice shutdown the world around her and disconnected from other people. She even stopped serving in the ministry because she could not bring herself to trust others.
While dealing with this new heartache, Janice desperately called for God’s comfort. It was during this time when the Lord answered her prayer and revealed His calling for her.
“The Holy Spirit became my only trusted friend. [And] after losing that person, I had a vivid dream that I led a group of younger women, but I was hesitant because again I thought I wasn’t qualified. I was emotional because it made me wonder: “Will this dream really come to pass?”
When Everything Falls Apart
Janice thought that life would be steady once she graduated college last year but life became even more complicated. She was pressured by the people around her to find a well-paying job as a teacher, but Janice wanted to wait upon the Lord. While waiting, Janice had to look after her nephew which also caused her to doubt her chances of landing a job.
She envisioned that this season of waiting would last two months, instead she stayed in that valley for six months. It wasn’t until December that Janice heard about TRIM. But in the days leading up to this, her family life shook her to the core.
Janice and her family had a huge fight just before Christmas. She had a misunderstanding with her sister, the mother of her nephew, and since she'd been bottling up her feelings for so long, she lashed out on her. That fight had a ripple effect on her family and the family ministry. And since Janice struggled with communicating her feelings, it resulted in more broken relationships.
“I felt like everything was my fault,” she said, recalling the moment when her father began questioning the Lord as to why their family was breaking when they started serving Him faithfully.
But Janice, through the grace of the Holy Spirit didn't let the year 2023 to start without her family reconciling. She humbled herself and asked for forgiveness towards them. It was during this conversation that her sister mentioned The Rising's job opportunity.
God Never Stops Working
Janice can still remember how excited she was to hear that The Rising was looking for an additional community mentor. So she prayerfully sought the Lord and surrendered: "Lord, if this is your will for me, let it be so.” Today, Janice is a valuable member of the ministry. Her passion to serve the Lord radiates every time she speaks or sings in front of the crowd. All her fears fade away when she begins to talk about the Bible. You’d never know she was nervous. She transforms into totally a different person every time! "Looking back, I stand amazed with God’s perfect ways because the breaking season led me to this. God was so silent but still He moved, even if I didn’t see it," she says. "TRIM is a blessing. God brought me here from my brokenness. I'm overwhelmed by how the people are so kind and how they celebrate me–they are God's extended grace. I saw my worth here."
Sometimes, these difficult seasons are necessary for Christians because it leads us to discovering the promise God has for us. The breaking of our hearts is not a punishment but a preparation that results in tremendous growth we wouldn't achieve without that painful experience.
Having just celebrated Holy Week, we remembered Jesus’ trials and ultimate victory. He was crushed by the betrayal of his disciple which led to his arrest. His body was whipped and lashed in preparation for his crucifixion and death on the cross. Without Jesus’ obedience, we wouldn’t be forgiven of our sins. Without His sacrifice, we wouldn’t have the victory over death.
May this story powerfully remind you that whatever challenges God allows in your life right now have a purpose. God in all His mercies is using that pain to get you to the destination He has prepared for you. Press on!