Story - Angela N. - as submitted.
God is faithful.
I've never heard this said more than the four, almost five years I've been at The Harbor. It was one of those statements that I kind of rolled my inner eyes at until recent months. I've begun to get just a glimpse of exactly what it means.
I was not what I would refer to as your typical little girl. I preferred cap guns to baby dolls, running barefoot through the woods and constructing my fort to playing house or Barbies. It was not unusual for my Mother to have to yell out the back door for me to come down out of the tree I was in, and inside to eat supper.
I never dreamed of what my future husband would be like. I thought my older sister weird for having her entire wedding planned on paper, complete with pictures from magazines by the age of 16. I never dreamed of having children, never gave thought to the house I would live in, or the car I would drive. I did, however, have one definite idea of what my "grown up" life would look like. I would own my own business. It didn't have much to do with being rich or possessing lots of money, but freedom. I had this idea that my employees would be the happiest in the world, because I would compensate them well and treat them fairly.
Fast forward through years of my life. Obligatory circumstances and the separation and divorce of my parents kept me from a college education. In 1995, at a very young age, I married and moved halfway across the world to Germany, where I stayed for three years. Tampa, FL was next on the itinerary before heading back to good ole Hammond in 2000. I had a made a very good career for myself in banking, starting as a receptionist with a temp agency and working my way up to Teller, Head Teller, Customer Service Rep, and finally Loan Processor.
People have asked me if it was an accident that caused my chronic pain. The answer is no. In fact, I can't say with absolute certainty what caused it. I can tell you that as a Head Teller responsible for preparing shipments of money to the Fed, it was nothing for me to grab two bags of coin and walk them from one place to another. Just to give you an idea of weight, quarters had to be in a cloth bag of $1000.00 before being shipped. It was during this time that I began to experience lower back pain. The tender age of 26.
As time progressed, the pain became more and more annoying. More intense. Having carried and given birth to a very large, beautiful baby boy at 9lbs 7oz, I wanted to be the kind of mother who raced him to the car in the parking lot of the grocery, taught him the joys of life found playing in the woods or riding a bike, so I did my very best not to let chronic pain get the best of me. I visited with many doctors, repeating my "story" over and over again, went through physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage, etc. until 2011 when I ruptured a disc. I never want to feel that kind of pain again as long as I live!
February of 2012 I went through my first back surgery. I had peace about it. God had shown me through numerous ways that He was allowing all of this, and later that same year, the reason why became evident. I walked through the darkest days of my life, and if I had not been "made to lie down," forced to "be still," I wouldn't have survived those days spiritually. It was during the time of my restriction to the couch before and after that first back surgery that I spent much time with God. Unbeknownst to me at that time, He was preparing me for what was to come - what He knew I would have to walk through.
November of that same year rolled around, and life continued, though there were many a day that I prayed for the ground to open and swallow me. It didn't help matters much that as I turned from the waist to hang clothes in my closet, I heard, rather than felt a pop in my back that caused me to immediately hit my knees. Several doctor appointments and MRIs later, each doctor telling me the same as the one before, I was extremely frustrated. "We can see that you have herniations, but nothing is impinging on the nerve, so you shouldn't be suffering the pain you're describing. Your symptoms do not match your imaging." But I was. They may as well have called me a liar.
For three years, I suffered through what I called episodes. I never knew when they were going to happen, what movement was going to bring one on, or how long it was going to last, though on average, they would keep me down for three days. Each time, I would visit my GP for the proper meds to get me through those days. The episodes happened about twice a year until 2014. I had six in a four month time span, the last of which happened on December 28, 2014, only this time, it was different. It was far more severe, and it kept me down for a full week. I couldn't take any more. Someone had to find the issue and fix it. I became very aggressive in my search for someone who would take his job seriously, take me seriously.
A broken facet - the cause of my chronic pain for the last three years. A fusion was the only option, the only fix. Facing surgery again, I lacked the peace I'd had before.
In the meantime, I had lost my job in a downsize and wasn't working. I felt worthless. Useless to my family. I could go fishing with my son, but I couldn't sweep my floor. I could complete 30 minutes of P90X3, but I couldn't work a full 8 hour day in the condition I was in. So I remained unemployed, searching for answers. In having "lost" my identity, I lashed out at my family, fell into a bit of depression and railed at God. Why? WHY??? Why am I going through this again? What did I not learn the last time? What am I facing now that this may be preparation for? My faith was low this time. God felt non-existent in my life. Where in the last trial, I ran to Him, took comfort in Him, trusted Him, this time it was very different. I was angry.
I am angry. My relationship with God has suffered severely through this one. I try hard to keep myself in check. To remind myself that I wrestle not against flesh and blood. But it's been very difficult for me to gain back that foothold I had for the first round. Round two: I'm tired. I want to rest. I want not to have to fight so hard, even though there is the knowledge that it is me, my flesh that I'm really fighting. It is principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Sometimes, when God makes you walk it out, your vision becomes completely clouded, and you are convinced you are forsaken. You've been turned over to a reprobate mind. There's no more sacrifice left for your willful sin. Your prayer life begins to suffer, it gets harder and harder to continue in the discipline of being a disciple of Christ. No one knows. You feel like a hypocrite because you are no longer mindfully practicing the things you believe in. Which brings about the question: Angela, do you really believe?
It doesn't stop you from being driven to your knees on occasion, completely overwhelmed, crying out for God to intervene, to give you some kind of sign that He has not forsaken you, that you still matter to Him, that He is still involved in your life.
This is where I begin to see the faithfulness of God, begin to understand that statement and the addition that usually follows it. God is faithful, even when we are not.
ReMade by GiGi - that's the name of the business that has come out of this. And I can tell you, if I went into thorough detail of how it all began, there would be no doubt left that it is nothing but God. After many times telling God how worthless and useless I felt - not being able to work a full day, not being able to contribute to the household income, wracking my brain trying to think of something I could do from home that would enable me to feel useful - I awoke one morning with a thought planted firmly in my head. Jewelry-making. Angela, why don't you try your hand at making jewelry? This seemed utterly ridiculous to me, because I have never had any interest in making jewelry. Buying it maybe, but making it? Nope. Furthermore, talent and creativity are not something I am known for.
I didn't act on this thought right away. Didn't share it with anyone for weeks. But the thought persisted. So on a trip to town, I decided to price some tools for the trade. I purchased nothing, but did at that point, mention my "thought" to my husband. He was not unsupportive, but neither did he jump right on my bandwagon. See, we've been married for 13 years, and during that time, he has supported my decision to go to school for court reporting during a stint of unemployment, then quit after a year. He supported me through studying for my Real Estate License, drove me to Baton Rouge to take the test, and took me to Copeland's to celebrate my passing it, only to give it up 4 years later. When I decided to become a Beachbody Coach, he let me do my thing, and even participated, but he was not convinced. So to mention this idea to him, well, it was a bit intimidating.
The day I made the special trip to town to actually purchase tools and supplies, I ran into two people who unknowingly confirmed that this little venture was indeed a God-thing. However, over the next couple of days, this morphed into taking pre-owned belts and turning them into cuffs.
My first sale was to my mom. But in my excitement of actually having sold one of my creations, I made a post to Facebook, and the entire thing blew up! Orders began pouring in to the point that I thought I would not be able to keep up! I am beginning another leg of this amazing journey! I just ordered my first metal embossing kit so my cuffs can be more personalized, and I am also teaching myself how to crochet necklaces and bracelets!
I am a firm believer in not letting the left hand know what the right is doing, but I feel a liberty to share this with you because it is part of my story. For every sale I make, a dollar amount is given back to ministry. Pastor Marvin's recent Sunday morning sermon on Dreaming was confirmation for me that this venture is filled with purpose. There is a reason beyond what I can see that has brought a little girl's one dream to fruition!
I created a Facebook page for my business as well as a website, and three months into this venture, it is the income I have earned that will be financing a family vacation to the beach for the week of Thanksgiving!
For the first time in my life, I am beginning to understand the statement, "God is faithful, even when we are not." And it makes me want to draw closer to Him, to know Him more. It makes me so grateful that in this trial, where I have continuously "let go" of Him, He only holds more tightly to me.