"I didn't like you." The lady standing in front of me said.
She didn't say it with any animosity. Just matter of fact. Sort of like you'd say "Grab an umbrella, it's raining outside." But it really knocked me for a loop...I mean, didn't everyone like me?
It was day two of a three day women's retreat. This retreat isn't your typical women's retreat. It's for women who have incarcerated loved ones. Husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons...serving time in county jails, state or federal prisons, diversion centers for a variety of crimes. You don't know what. It's one of the rules. You don't ask. This is a safe place so if the guest doesn't want to say, she doesn't have to.
Having been a guest on the retreat six months before, I had volunteered to work on the team for this weekend. During team meetings, I had been asked to speak on "anger". I'd been really nervous but totally convinced that the Holy Spirit had been in control while I wrote the talk and when I stood in front of all those women and given it. I was still a bit shakey from the experience though it had gone well (I didn't stutter or trip on the way to or from the podium) and the women had really responded to what I had shared.
And now I had some woman I had only seen briefly over the last two days publicly proclaiming her dislike for me?!
"I'm sorry...what?" I asked.
"I didn't like you." She said. (I had totally gotten that point) "I watched you walking around with this big smile on your face, hugging everyone and laughing like you didn't have a care in the world. I didn't think you had a right to be here. You didn't have a clue what I was going through, what any of us were going through"
She paused for a moment, then continued. "But then, you told your story this afternoon. Halfway through it I realized, if God can do that for you, He can do that for me."
At this point, I'm crying...like Niagra Falls crying. "Yes, yes He can...and will."
She starts crying and smiling at the same time, hugs me, and walks off.
I'm overwhelmed with gratitude...that God would take my story and use it to impact this woman in such a way and that He would arrange it so that I would know He had done so.
What does God want to tell through your story?
By the way, if you'd like to know more about this particular ministry, check out the Kairos Outside website: http://www.konorth.kairosofgeorgia.org/