This weekend I was blessed.
Truth is, I’m blessed every weekend, but this weekend I was blessed by a gift that was clearly custom made for me by my Father in Heaven.
I was blessed with a weekend retreat and Christian yoga teacher training in the lush farm fields of my home state of Michigan.
The teachers? Well, they are kind of roll models for me, Courtney Chalfant and DeAnna Smothers. They are mother and daughter and co-founders of Yahweh Yoga. I’ve been doing their DVDs and clicking “like” on their pictures for almost a decade and they came to train teachers in Michigan.
I wanted to go. I felt called to go. Yet, I could not afford it.
Then, I received a gift. One of the teachers from the hosting studio Living Waters Yoga, had been praying and said she wanted to invite me as their guest. I was flabbergasted. In fact, I protested.
But, Courtney responded with one word.
And I did.
I humbled myself and with the blessing of my family and ministry, I went to start my training.
The women of Living Waters…incredible. Sold out, born again, Spirit filled women of God, all from a studio in one of the most affluent suburbs of Metro Detroit, Grosse Pointe.
Wow, God, I thought. What are you doing? Me, Courtney, DeAnna and a bunch of sisters from GP? I put my ear to the ground to listen for what God was doing and He (as He almost always does when I bother to ask) showed me something beautiful. Something beautiful that (as often is the case) is born of something ugly.
I grew up broke. I never had one day of financial security. I never asked for money for the ice cream truck when it came by. Even as a child, I knew. We didn’t have any extra money. Not a dime.
When I was 20, I was preparing to be married. As all girls do, I was looking at dresses in bridal magazines and dreaming, but in my tiny town, we didn’t have any of those dresses. My town was so small, we didn’t even have a dress shop. Almost all of us wore the kinds of cloths that were practical for doing things like chopping wood to heat our homes, not impractical gowns that cost as much as a car.
But I wanted to at least play Cinderella and try them on. So a friend from college, suggested I come down and try on dresses over our Christmas break and I went with expectation to see the dresses from the pages on ME!
We went to the first shop and I was completely ignored by the sales woman. I was in the store for about 10 minutes looking and waiting for her to ask me if she could help. I said, “HI!” she turned her back to me. I left.
The next boutique was the same. I walked in. The sales women looked at one another, rolled their eyes and vanished only to re-emerge when another young lady and her mother came in with matching Prada handbags.
“Let’s go to my house real quick.” my friend said. Shuttling me into her closet, she traded my ankle boots for her leather riding boots. She traded my blouse for her boiled wool jacket. She pinned back my hair and gave me some pearls and we went back to the same store where I was greeted with a toothy “Hello, dear! When is your wedding?”
On that day, a sickness burrowed secretly into my being. A sense of “less than” overtook me. I made a secret pact with my self worth…you’re not enough.
AND, I made another pact, “People with money are mean, shallow, judgement and don’t like you.”
Lies I believed until God moved in this weekend, exposed the lies and set me free.
We were on our yoga mats: Me, and the beautiful, warm sisters in Christ from Grosse Pointe and I was feeling like an odd man out and wondering if they whispered about me when the lights went out. But in class, Courtney, she was saying “God loves you. He loves you because he loves you, because He loves you. Because He loves you.” and I started to cry.
“God, show me what you are doing here.” I prayed and that night, He gave me a dream.
In it, my family was moving to a new location. Something really good was happening…it was a shift. We were packing our things and saying good-bye’s to our friends when I remembered we had a box in the basement that needed to be moved, too and so to the basement I went.
But the basement was not just a room, it was connected by tunnels and all OVER the tunnels were more boxes that I’d forgotten about. It went on an on, until at the end of the tunnels was the box I’d gone down for. It was cover with urine and filth and sitting next to the couch we had when I was a child. Under the couch was a rodent that was threatening to attack me.
I woke up.
“I’ve healing you from your empty broken spot. I’ve restored your hope in your Healing Season. Now it’s time to clear the basement, Shannyn. I want to clean the hidden things, the things you’ve forgotten about. They are still down there and it’s time to let them go. It’s time to move.” I felt the Lord say.
Over coffee I confessed this to the sisters. I apologized. I repented and we prayed.
“You are a princess, Shannyn. You are a daughter of the King.” one said as she lovingly touched my dampened cheek.
“I am His.” I said.
“Yes.” said another. “and you are dearly loved.”
“I know. I know He loves me. I’ve just been believing a lie about myself and about you and I’m so sorry.” I said “Thank you for welcoming me here. Thank you for inviting me.”
“I’m sorry that you were treated that way,” said another. “You are always welcome in our town.”
And so today, I rebuke the lie. I’m not a princess because of money or family name. I have favor because our Father is the same. He is the King. He gets the glory. He blesses us ALL and loves us all.
In Him, as it says in Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Can you imagine? I spent more than 20 years believing a lie about myself because of the actions of three random store clerks who COULD have just been having a bad day.
It’s time move some boxes.
In fact, I think it’s time to burn them.