As a working mother, author, and speaker, I had no idea how my life would be impacted by the traveling and speaking opportunities God opened up for me. I shared the beginning of this story in my blog last week. This is how the event unfolds….
The next morning, I apologized again to the man who brought me out (who I will call Jack) for having to miss dinner with him and his wife. He is gracious and relates multiple unusual obstacles they had endured as well. By now…. Both of us are curious. And both of us are watching.
And God blows us away. Jack had organized this event at the request of a friend of his, the owner of a fast-growing chain of stores, staffed almost entirely by hundreds of young, twenty-something women. The owner of the company – a high-energy, ADD, visionary Jewish guy — realized most of these 22-year old women were looking to him for life advice with boyfriends and finances, as a sort of substitute father figure, even though he was only in his early forties, himself. He realized they so often came from broken homes, had no father themselves, and were a bit rudderless. So he started a series of seminars that would help them understand things like how to stay out (or get out) of debt, time management, and other life skills. And he asked his friend Jack (“my Christian friend,” as he jokes) to organize the seminars for him. Jack had become a good friend when he walked with the owner through a painful, unwanted divorce the previous year; the owner deeply trusted him.
That morning, I told the women we were going to be covering the most important things they needed to know about men – both in their personal lives and in the workplace – based on my research for For Women Only and For Women Only in the Workplace. They perked up and listened in fascination.
For the last six years, since I came out with For Women Only and Emerson Eggerichs came out with Love and Respect(both of which were Christian best-sellers), many people in the “church world” have heard and absorbed the previously-surprising truth that men need respect even more than love. Many churchgoers have now heard that men are secretly insecure, deeply crave the affirmation of their wife or girlfriend, and find it so painful when she makes them feel inadequate instead. That’s now been heard a bit among churchgoers. But this was an area of the country where very, very few people go to church, and I could tell most of these girls were hearing these surprising truths for the very first time.
Some of these girls were eager, but some were skeptical, especially about the respect and insecurity thing. And then the owner of the company spoke up from the back of the room. “Shaunti, can I say something?”
Surprised, his employees looked back at him. He said, “All of you know what the last year and a half has been like for me, how tough it has been, losing my marriage and my children.” He paused, then said, with deep emotion in his voice. “I want each of you to know that it is entirely because my wife and I didn’t know what Shaunti is telling you right now. Every single thing she’s telling you is completely true. You have to listen to her. If my wife had understood these things, and if I had known some things about her, I wouldn’t have lost the love of my life for 20 years. I wouldn’t be living apart from my kids. Listen to what Shaunti is saying. Don’t make the same mistakes I made, and that my wife made. You have to learn this. It will change the course of your life.”
The faces of each of the young women listening to him suddenly became sober, and I was suddenly out of breath. I realized that God was using this visionary, ADD, founder of a successful company to reach out to speak directly to scores of young women. I was filled with respect for this man and his willingness to be so transparent. And I was filled with awe at the amazing way that God arranges circumstances to get His truth into the minds and hearts of people He loves so much – people who would otherwise be so far from hearing it.
Last week, as I headed to the airport, I was distracted and focused solely on what God could do to help me. Get me across the country, Lord, and help me not lose my mind in the process. But God had to show me, yet again, that this trip was entirely about what He was doing in the world, and how I could join him. If I hadn’t been woken up to the need to get my head out of my circumstances, I might have missed powerful evidence of God at work in the lives in front of me.
If our God truly is the Master and King; if he truly is the head of our lives; then in all things it is his job to arrange all the pieces to accomplish his purposes, for his glory. It is our job to pray for the obstacles to be blown away, to purposefully watch and see where he is working, and to steward well our opportunity to be a small part of His purposes in this world
Shaunti Feldhahn’s Life Ready Woman series was developed to help women understand their role in today’s “do-it-all” world.