Story - Chelsea A. - as told to Tori Penton.
Chelsea is not shy about the fact that this has been a very difficult season in her life. In the last year she has faced life altering decisions, serious illness in her family, and the age old question: “Why is all this happening to me?” It all started last year; Chelsea was struggling to finish her bachelor’s degree. She had never had a problem with school before but seemingly out of nowhere came an issue with a final grade and it looked as if she might not finish her hard-earned degree in time. During this time Chelsea felt like something was wrong with her mom but she wasn’t sure what exactly. She was living in Hammond while her family was living in Lafayette. Her communications with her mom were mostly over the phone and she couldn’t put her finger on just what was going on.
When Chelsea went home for spring break she got the news: her mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer in March. Naturally her mother had not wanted to alarm Chelsea while she was trying to get through school. However, Chelsea’s mom needed surgery as soon as possible and it could not be kept a secret any longer. Chelsea remembers feeling a sense of shock when she found out about her mom’s sickness. She recalls feeling lost and confused and wondering “How could this be happening?” Her mom was a strong woman with a deep trust and relationship with God. She remembers asking God, “Why would you allow this to happen to my mom? She’s done everything right, she loves you. How could you let this happen to her?”
God began to answer those questions for her when she went with her mom to MD Anderson Cancer treatment center in Houston. Her mom had been so strong through the entire process, but Chelsea still had doubts. She recalls a powerful moment where God broke through her dark thoughts. She and her mom were sitting in the waiting room awaiting her radiation treatment. Another woman in the waiting room had just gotten the news that she also had cancer. The woman was visibly shaken and cried heart wrenching tears as she waited for a friend to come be with her at the hospital. Chelsea remembers feeling awful for the woman, but then her mom did an amazing thing. She watched as her mom crossed the room and sat down next to the woman - a total stranger. She then took the other woman into her arms, held her and prayed over her as the woman sobbed into her arms. Chelsea realized then that God was present in their situation and that He was very capable of using this sickness to bring about good.
In the midst of all of this, Chelsea was graduating college and she needed to make some decisions regarding her imminent future. She had considered moving back to Lafayette to be closer to her mom but her mom had been adamant about her staying in school to complete her master’s degree. She had always wanted to go to law school, but throughout the year and considering her mom’s sickness, she felt God telling her He had another plan. Chelsea had always been a deeply compassionate person, but it wasn’t until watching some of her loved ones go through mental illness, addiction, and eventually the judicial system that she realized law school was not the best use of her gifts or her heart.
During her time in college Chelsea had become a mentor to a child who was going through the juvenile judicial system. She watched as this child’s experience almost mirrored that of which she had seen some of her family members going through. God was tugging on her heart. She realized these people needed empathy, compassion, and love that only God could give. She knew then that God could use her as His hands and feet if she decided to become a counselor. This meant she must surrender her plans so that God’s better plan and purpose for her life could be fulfilled. She knew that she was meant to bring healing to those who are most broken.
Chelsea remained in Hammond to complete her schooling and decided that she needed to find a church family. The first time she visited The Harbor she heard a message from John Wondergem about trusting God through difficult circumstances. She knew then that God was speaking to her. She made the decision that day that she would surrender her worries about her mom’s health and her future. God did two things that day; Chelsea finally found the church family she had been praying for and she was able to finally release the burdens that had weighed her down for a year.
Shortly after this, Chelsea heard God say to her “Let me be your GPS. I never said the road would be easy, but I do guarantee that I will bring you to your destination. If you will stop trying to guide yourself I will take you where I want you to go.”
Relinquishing control was not easy. Chelsea admits that one of the most difficult parts of this journey has been believing in God’s goodness and kindness despite painful circumstances. She had no peace as she fought fear over her mom’s health and anxiety over her own future. The moment she made the decision to allow God to guide her she felt peace. Chelsea says, “I learned God wasn’t angry with me or my mom. Maybe I don’t understand sometimes, but this is the journey even though it’s not easy. I’m learning to trust God even when things don’t make sense. Sometimes my vision for my future is blurry but I trust that God will make it clearer as time goes on.” It is in the times of the struggle that we come to know who God really is. It is often in the battle that we come to know the loving heart of the Father. If we will allow Him access to our hearts He will give us peace, love, joy and endurance through even the most trying times of our lives. If we will trust Him and believe His promises there is nothing that He won’t do for us, because He is a good Father.
*It should be noted that Chelsea’s mom has now been cancer free for nearly five months!
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Cor. 13:12