How Did I Get Here?

Something went public this week that I have tried to  keep quiet for a long time. I found it difficult and strange and, well, it made my stomach hurt.  First, some back story.

We have been leading a small group for young adults for the last number of years. It has been a highlight of our week to be involved with this age group.  They have become dear friends!

A few years back, one of our members was a first year Medical student.  In the spring, she asked if I would mind going down to the Fire Pit with her class to put on an evening for women who live on the street. They needed more Hairstylists. The Fire Pit is a drop in centre for street people, they offer a meal and many other services to meet the needs of this demographic in our community. 
I was non-committal at first; hoping that our kids schedule would keep me from being available.  As the date came closer and closer, I realized I was wide open, no conflicts.  I looked at my husband and said “If I am going to live authentically for God and live by example with these Young Adults, I have to say yes, I have to go!”. My tone was possibly a little more panicked than you imagined in your mind. He just laughed at me and gave me a hug.
You may be thinking all sorts of things about why I didn’t want to go.  Honestly, it was simply fear.  I didn’t know what to expect, how to interact. I felt ignorant about their lives and culture. I didn’t want to offend or say something wrong. I am naive of the world they survive in and it scares me.  Basically, I am a chicken.
The evening turned out to be amazing. Loads of laughter and easy conversation.  I enjoyed the patrons humour and banter.  I was surprised at how easy and comfortable it was. The evening flew by and I was surprised by how much I had enjoyed the whole experience.  
More than once I heard “I have never had my hair cut by a professional before!”.  I was astonished. That was something I had always taken for granted.  My Mom had cut our hair for years, but as soon as we were twelve, we were allowed to get our hair done in the salon. It was a treat for sure.  I had just never considered that there were some who had never had that experience.  I looked around at all these lovely smiles. Women who were feeling good about themselves, who loved their hair.  They were enjoying getting their nails painted by the medical students and having their make up applied.  It was so great to be a part of it. I felt safe in the group and felt comfortable in my element of hair styling.
As the weeks went on, I realized I had been profoundly impacted by that evening.  I couldn’t forget the words I had heard or the smiles I had seen.  I felt God pressing it on my spirit to do something. I knew what He wanted from me, but I was resisting.  I was still scared.
After six weeks of God pursuing me about going down to the Fire Pit, I mentioned it to Craig one day. He responded very enthusiastically. Then he saw my face and realized I was still struggling with it.  He was gracious and gave me some time to work it out.  
Finally, a few weeks later, I said in exasperation “I can’t bear it any more, how do I do this?” Craig just laughed at me. I could tell he was thinking “It’s about time!!”  He is so great, he came with me to meet with the managers and we worked out a plan. I knew God was asking me to give them the full deal. For this to fully express His love for His people, I needed to give them the full salon experience if they wanted it. That was very important. We looked for equipment to purchase and talked with the team at the Fire Pit about what would best work. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm, that really helped to grow my courage. 
I new that I would have limited time on the afternoons I spent there. Having someone to shampoo clients would be essential. I love getting a shampoo/massage at my hair appointments. I wanted to be able to offer that without feeling rushed. Having someone to help would allow for that luxury, it would also speed the process and maximize our time.  I wanted to see how a few of my clientèle would respond.  Through sharing with a few people, word got to a woman in our Congregation who was already volunteering at The Fire Pit.  She approached me one Sunday to see if I was open to her joining me. What an awesome answer to prayer!! She was already familiar with The Fire Pit. I felt so much more relaxed having someone there with me who was comfortable, known and could help it run more smoothly. Also, a key part of her role was to be there to keep me calm, I was so nervous!!

I reached out to a number of people who I thought might want to partner with me in prayer.  This is such an essential part of this ministry. I cannot adequately express how powerful this is. There simply are not words. Perhaps this story will help. The one time I forgot to connect with my prayer people, I was terrified the whole day. The atmosphere was agitated and hostile. fights were breaking out amongst the patrons repeatedly. I was threatened by one of the older men, he was threatening to take me out back, beat me and kill me if I didn’t cut his hair next. He glared at me from across the room the whole afternoon until management got involved. I wish I was joking, but I am not. These are people living in desperate ways, they have to be tough to survive. Every time I have had my prayer people behind me, the atmosphere has been calm and while I may be nervous, I am never afraid. Without their support, I would not have the courage to go and do this work. Without them, this would not be happening. If you would like to be part of that team, please message me your email and I will add you.

This year in May, it will be the start of my fourth year. It has been amazing and I have grown to love it. I am honoured that the patrons trust me to listen to them and cut their hair the way they want. I am amazed that they allow myself and my “Amazing Shampoo Lady” to touch them. If I had gone through what many of them have, I am not sure I would. I am glad to see the smiles and hear the murmurs of “oh it’s hair cut day” as we bring the Salon to the Fire Pit. I am humbled by their gratitude, by the sparkle in their eye and their satisfaction.

I put off the TV interview for at least sixteen months. Finally, when the managers expressed that they were hoping it would cause others to realize how easy it is to help out, I gave in.

To be honest, and I am not proud of this, but if it was up to me, I would not be at the Fire Pit.  If I was in charge of my own life, I would not have ended up volunteering there. It is not a natural choice for me. I am more inclined to rock babies or lead programs for children. My husband did street ministry for years and I never joined him in it. I always had the excuse that I needed to stay home with the kids. Part of why this story going public makes my stomach hurt is because I am not awesome, I am not amazing. I am just a normal person.  I was reluctant, I was frightened and I was looking for a way out of this. Craig found this so funny. He really got a kick out of God calling me where I would never have gone on my own.

That is why the comments of how great a thing this is cause my stomach to hurt. If it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t be there. Without my prayer people and “Amazing Shampoo Lady”, none of this would happen. It is not me who is amazing, but God and the team He surrounded me with!

Why did I do it? Why did I follow God to a place I would never go on my own?
1. I did it because I have learned that where God wants me is where I experience fullness of life. It is exhilarating to be doing what God wants me to do. It has been amazing to step out in faith and watch Him work.
2. I chose to obey because I have learned that I miss out on learning more about God when I do not cooperate with Him. I have learned more of His deep compassion and love for all people. Even more so, the depths of mercy and grace he has shown me that I do not deserve.
3. I have learned that when I go where God guides me, I am changed by it in deep and profound ways. Always for the better. I have grown to love those I work with deeply, to have an immense respect for them. I have gained a deeper understanding of the world they live in and survive.
4. I chose to surrender to God because I want to live my faith authentically before my children and those we work with at church. I need to lead by example or else my faith is just empty words. 
5. I made a commitment long ago that I wanted to follow God, not just in the ways that are easy for me. A true follower goes everywhere the leader takes them, not just to the comfortable places.  
6. I chose to obey because I prayed that God would help me love like He loves. If I don’t allow him to teach me, I will never learn. I never learn when I stay comfortable.
7. I went because I am too weak to fight Him.  I am miserable when I am disobedient. I miss out on His good gifts, my disobedience builds a barrier between Him and I. My spirit suffocates and feels dry like the desert when I put distance between us.

8. I chose to follow God in this because I am an average girl with an average skill. When I join God in His work, I get to be part of something extraordinary. Something bigger than me. The impact is far deeper than a good feeling because of a good hair cut.

9. I don’t want to stay safe. I don’t want my fear to dictate my choices, I want my faith in a big powerful God to dictate my choices. I want to take risks and show my kids how to do the same. I want to live in a way that shows them God is alive and active. I want to show them that life is about stepping out into new territory and share with them what God has done through it.

How did I get here? By following the one I trust with my life. He makes the journey on this earth an amazing adventure!

In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Following where He leads me is having life to the full!

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