Reverend Shelby Strickland. I am a female Pastor in full time ministry and 2014 has been the hardest year of my life.
In 2014 I have:
– Received my official ministry license ((I told you call me REVEREND Shelby))
– Gotten pregnant with mine and Aaron’s first child
– Miscarried mine and Aaron’s first child
– Seen the man who made my dream of going in to full time ministry possible/mentor/father figure move on to become the Senior Pastor at a church in Georgia
– Led my first solo out of state trip with 30+ teenagers/young adults
– Preached a multitude of services and helped carry our youth group through a tough transitional time
– Cried in front of more people than I can count
– Paid more hospital bills than any one person should have to ((can I get an AMEN?!))
I promise this blog post is not meant to be a pity party for Shelby Strickland post! BUT IT HAS BEEN A HARD YEAR and I will be nothing more than pleased to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015!
Recently, I got to spend an entire afternoon with some of my best girl friends and it was one of the most encouraging and wonderful afternoons of my life ((SIDE NOTE: If you do not have good girlfriends that you can be completely candid with, I would suggest getting on that PRONTO))! We talked, laughed, and swooned over baby Maverick ((my unbelievably handsome nephew)) and then right at the pinnacle of our fun having…I debbie downed us ((yes, debbie downed is a verb)). I began crying and I mean weeping…in front of my 5 unconditionally loving and accepting best girlfriends ((yes, I am crying just thinking about how wonderful they are)). I LOST IT…and I made a statement that I had been afraid to admit for a long time…I told them
“I never dreamed that life would be this hard.”
AND I MEANT IT. When I was a young girl dreaming of what my life would look like…I never imagined living in my small hometown, working at the church I grew up in, becoming the Assistant Youth Pastor at said church, living in a one bedroom apartment ((next to a
seriously crazy neighbor), working to pay off massive amounts of school debt, sharing one car, miscarrying my first child, and struggling with conceiving again.
Can you imagine any person ever dreaming these things…writing these words down in a dream journal??!! NEVER, WE WOULD LOCK THAT PERSON UP IN A PSYCH WARD!!
In the movie Newsies, a.k.a. MY FAVORITE MOVIE IN THE WORLD. The newsboys have a rally to try to convince every newsboy in the state of New York to go on strike. At the end of the rally the most beautiful performer in the world comes out a sings a song that the cast joins in on, and it goes like this…
High times, hard times
Sometimes the living is sweet and sometimes there’s nothing to eat
But I always land on my feet.
So, when there’s dry times, I wait for high times and then
I put on my best and I stick out my chest and I’m off to the races again.
This is the song I sing as I trust that these hard times are just that…times. And they will pass. I never did imagine that life would be this hard because I never could have imagined that I could bear so much and grow so much.
From an early age I saw myself as a princess – you know what I am talking about. I was caught in my ivory tower, shadow kissed with tragedy yet still naive to the cruelties of the world. I needed a prince to come save me, to stand by side and walk me through all the struggles that would come my way.
As I entered college I began to see that I was a strong woman capable of great things. If I wanted to I could descend from my ivory tower and get through life all on my own. The man could just come along for the ride.
And most recently I have realized that I have been wrong this entire time. I can’t get through the struggles I face in this world on my own BUT I don’t need a man to walk me through life. God has always been my companion. He is the one walking with me through life — He is the one who makes this life more than bearable. He makes it enjoyable. He is the one who makes all the pain in my life worth it. I didn’t expect that life would be this hard — I definitely didn’t expect to have a Companion so loyal, kind, and strong in my weakness.
He is with me, changing me, strengthening me, teaching me, and making this life one crazy adventure.