The Most Inopportune Invitation
In Spring of 2016, my husband and I became empty nesters. While the time is hard, we intentionally raise our children to launch and thrive outside of our reach. Approximately, a year later, we faced a hard career transition. After having a major career change from science to pastoral ministry in 2007, I found the need to reengage with my science background for livelihood. I loved the company that I contracted for, but I was not excellent at the work. One day, I walked in and I knew it would be my last day, effective immediately. A short time following that departure, I was invited to a friend’s house for a 2-day experience with someone from out of town. She told me I would love him because he was a grace guy!
Initially, I said no because I had a commitment Friday and for Saturday that prohibited me from fully attending. On the Saturday morning, my plans were expedited so I considered going to the event. It was only 5 miles away at a friend’s home. Then I thought, I do not want to go into this event late. It was small and intimate so there was no way to sneak in like I can ever really sneak in anywhere! In addition, I did not want to go late. In all honesty, I figured I would be a stark minority and I did not want to feed the stereotype that “Black people are always late!” As a rule of thumb, I am always early, but I couldn’t be this time. What to do? I decided to go anyway. I entered the room and sat by my friend. The group was asking a man questions about one of my all-time favorite books, The Shack. So, I listened. Someone in the group posed a question about the number one email issue or complaint from the book. He tossed it out to the group. The primary answer, “God was a woman”. I said, “God was a Black woman”! The room erupted to my surprise. At the end of the scowls and volumized voices, he let them know I was correct on my prediction. We took a picture. I grabbed a book he wrote off the dining room table and left. I decided to friend him on Facebook. I got a question about knowing him personally, but I did not think much about it. Well, of course, I know him…silly Facebook. He accepted my request. I received a message for a meeting the next day for me and my husband to attend. Of course, we made time. We met and talked. He asked me questions and about my stories. I left the meeting thinking, What a nice man! I think his questions and our table talk was more intentional than I thought.
A few weeks later the day after my birthday, I received a phone call with the area code 805. It was not listed as a contact in my phone. I thought it was important to answer it because I had a son in college in the Southern California area. So, I did. It was the nice man from the group in Texas. He explained to me a project he was working on and that he was possibly looking for another author. He said it thought it was providential that we met and praised me for how I handled a sensitive situation. Sensitive to him… common for me! He stated that he wanted this project to be “missional” for me. Man, little did he know how missional this project was for me! I have been living this stuff for most of my life. I was in, all in! A couple of weeks later, Wayne Jacobsen and Bob Prater, flew to DFW and we were outlining a book, A Language of Healing. Although I was in the middle of lots of transition from a family, financial and career perspective, I knew this was an opportunity from God. He is the Guy who sends great opportunities right in the middle of what we think are the most chaotic and inopportune times. After all, I may be relocating. I may need to have a different work grind for a minute. Literally, within two months of starting the project, we were temporarily going to Baltimore with a new position for my husband. New city, new friends, new place to live, new climate! Well as the story goes, we are now back in the DFW area.
Please allow me to share a few deductions from my account that may be applicable to you. One, great opportunities can present at ANY time. Everything in your life may not be orderly, organized enough or make sense for you but resist over screening due to external factors. Kairos moments must be seized.
Second, sometimes another level of your destiny may literally be linked to a conversation. A group conversation was the catalyst for my relationship with Wayne. I hope this book helps you find inspiration and courage to have some conversations that are new to you with people you know and other conversations with people who are new to you.
Third, some projects call for times of obscurity and quietness for maximum engagement. I worked on a large part of this book in a fifth-floor historical condominium in Roland Park, Maryland. As an extrovert, it is challenging to pull away and remain energetic since extroverts are energized by people; yet, it was necessary this time. It gave me time to be quiet, question myself, and think with more dimension.
Four, people who are different are precious gifts from God. Wayne, Bob and I differ on many areas in our lives, but we agree the world needs to be a more peaceful place. As we go about everyday life, we believe that can happen one conversation at a time. Wayne and Bob are gifts to me and friends for life.
I pray A Language of Healing gives you more capacity to receive your own precious gifts of people perhaps as a most inopportune invitation.