SMASHING THE PICKET FENCE

My life falling apart was the best thing that ever happened to me, and it was also the worst thing. Actually, that has kind of been a pattern in my adult life. For about ten years in a row my focus word at the beginning of the new year was “restore” or “renew” or some other word indicating that my life had been torn down and was in need of repair.

I lived the picket fence life for most of my childhood and teen years. My father was a third generation corn and soybean farmer in Central Illinois when we moved away to Florida. I was five years old and didn’t understand what it meant to be “called” into the ministry. All I knew was that we were doing what God said to do! My parents both had a spiritual awakening after they were married. They gave their lives to the Lord after an insurance salesmen witnessed to them during a sales call. God fell heavy on them that day and He has never left our family since. The obedience of that one man has literally changed thousands of lives.

Once I was officially a preacher’s kid I was literally surrounded by church members which we considered our next of kin. We saw the underbelly of the church. The good, the bad and the ugly. This is probably where I learned my empathy for people. My dad had an old rotary phone on his nightstand, and sometimes it would ring in the middle of the night. I can almost remember every call. Well, at least one side of the conversation for every call. Even though he kept them private, it exposed me to an urgency and darkness to life that I don’t think I would have ever seen if we had stayed on the farm.

I had the typical teen and college years. Got married and started a family. This is when the pressure began for me to live up to a certain standard and put on a fake smile. Behind the scenes, my home life was unraveling at such a fast pace not even manicured lawns and matching outfits from Gymboree could cover up the pain. I wasn’t fooling anyone. Years of mental anguish and isolation led to a period of time where I finally crashed and surrendered my shortcomings and my unknown future over to a known God.

As soon as I realized my marriage really was over, the first thing I thought about was what would people think of me? In a small, southern town this is the first thing you think of. Trust me. I didn’t linger on the thought too long because it was immediately replaced by how will I support my kids? A question that still haunts me to this day. I soon learned though that there is no amount of money that could replace the peace and grace that washed over our family as we started our new chapter. I had finally moved my feet and made the right decision.

I didn’t know then that the pain we endured would ultimately be the very thing that brought me closer to the purpose I have found in helping others. I have spent half my life trying to look perfect and the other half stepping out from behind the picket fence and purposefully showing people my flaws. The fence makes us look pretty and desirable…it also keeps other people from having access to the gifts that God gave you. I know some people naturally want isolation, but it isn’t sustainable and it isn’t God’s best for you or the people God has put in your life.

My greatest joy is meeting people right where they are, and letting them see my humanity too. I honestly can’t hide who I am or how I feel if I tried! It’s not exactly a blessing, but I try to make it an asset in making me trustworthy and authentic. I’m not perfect at it by any means but I am always striving to help others connect with the missing pieces of themselves and their community.

My vision for Evolve 180, is to be a place of wholeness and evolution of the mind, body and soul. I want to dive into restoring the balance of your life, dreams, passions and help you envision obstacles being cleared away so new opportunities can flourish. Weekly or biweekly individual sessions and access via texting will set the stage for a healthy, steady and organic evolution.

I have a lot of exciting ideas in store, and a lot things to learn myself! Thanks for taking the time to read my first blog entry. I hope you found something for your journey. 💕

~Leah

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