Walking the Straight Path

“I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight.”–Isa. 45:2a

Part of my journey out of the shadow of shame, has included a physical journey, the one that brought our family to Wisconsin nearly four years ago. This move came about primarily because Joel was able to get a year off his prison sentence by transferring to Wisconsin.

Even with the benefit of Joel getting home early, I didn’t want to move, for some very obvious reasons: precious family, dear friends, good weather, stability–all of these were a part of my life in Florida. I didn’t want to give those up, for me or the boys.

One day as I poured out my heart to God in prayer, he whispered to me,  If I asked you to go to Indonesia to serve me, would you go? To which I quickly replied, Of course, Lord. I had always longed to serve the Lord overseas. His next question was pointed and clear; So if I ask you to go to Wisconsin, will you go? What could I say?  Following him on the straight path, in this case, meant a geographical move that felt overwhelming.

“What brought you to Wisconsin?” or “What made you move from Florida, all the way up here?” These were the questions innocently asked by strangers as we settled in our new home. Oh how I struggled with these questions! What to say? Did I tell every stranger that crossed my path and asked a conversational question the ugly story of our family’s past ? That felt like a constant ripping of the scab off our tender wound. And it also seemed a bit insensitive to unsuspecting strangers. But I didn’t want to lie. What could I say? And what about the boys? They too were asked these questions, by kids in their new schools, and even as we visited churches. Nobody meant to pry; but it felt like a question designed by Satan to push us into the shadow of shame.

I started offering vague answers, or coming back with a comic and obviously sarcastic response about getting sick of the good Florida weather and looking for a change. These worked in the moment. And in some ways it was a necessary evasion. But conversations that went this direction, always left me feeling like I was hiding in a dark corner.

Then one day I met a woman who was the mother of a girl in Jaden’s class. She introduced herself and we began to chat. Of course the inevitable question arose, just a few sentences into our conversation. But this time in that instant, I heard God whisper, Just tell her the truth.

Swallowing what felt like a huge lump of pride, I said, “Well this probably isn’t the answer you were expecting, but we moved here to be near my husband who was accepted into the halfway house down in Milwaukee.”

“No that isn’t want I was expecting!” She admitted, but her eyes held a warmth and compassion that invited me to share more.
Briefly I told her about our situation. “It’s not a pretty story,” I admitted, “But what is pretty is God’s amazing grace.” As I said those words, God transformed my story from a shadowy, shameful account, into a testament of the light we find in his presence.

I am still friends with this precious woman, nearly four years later. And God has brought other new friends into our lives here.  As a matter of fact the other day someone commented, “You really seem “all in” in Wisconsin.”  I had to chuckle. In my heart I knew that was the power of God moving us into the light of his presence.

For me stepping out of the shadow of shame, required listening for God’s still small voice, and trusting his leading, even when it felt all wrong. I had to resist the urge of self-protection, and instead choose to believe His good care was far better than any of my own efforts.
What about you? Where has God led you? Have you followed him on a straight path out of the shadows?

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