As I came to know my true self more and more, I began to possess such a sense of personal grounding and presence that my heart began to open to what God might be calling me to do in the kingdom at large. About that time, my husband and I attended a conference where the speaker was referencing the story of Moses. He highlighted how overtly God spoke of hearing the cry of his people when he called Moses. When he posed for us the question "Whose cry have you heard?" the response "wounded women in the church" surfaced immediately for me. Not long afterward, I realized that in order to do that work, I needed to continue my education in graduate school.
The decision to move our family for the sake of my education was a difficult one. The move would be a dream come true for me, more work for my husband, and genuine suffering for our kids, ages sixteen, thirteen, and ten. In that season of decision, the Who do you think you are? rant was almost everywhere I looked: friends, family, church, and within. But my sense of calling remained.
Just before we left, I directed a retreat for the women of our church, asking a counselor friend of mine to speak on "The Cry of a Woman's Heart." My role was to handle general administration, act as the emcee, and lead a gardening workshop. It was great fun to share some of the wisdom I had learned from God in my garden. The retreat felt like a lovely and appropriate parting gift to the community that had given me so very much through the years.
The move was costly and difficult, but oh so enlivening for me. I found myself, at age 40, in graduate school. Three thousand miles from my native homeland of Texas, I began to discover even more latent aspects of myself. I found that I love to listen. Previously, I thought my preference was to speak, to teach. Through feedback from others, I found out that I have a gentle presence. That surprised me. Though I knew I had changed internally from that hard, harsh person who actively fought against recognizing her tender, merciful heart, I had never realized that others could see that difference. My identity was becoming a reality on all fronts, one step at a time. What a transformation! I was also affirmed for my depth of thought and insight, a trait that, sadly and painfully, some had responded to by telling me I would be "of no use to God's kingdom" if I didn't think and speak more simply. I was willing and eager to accept and embrace these parts of my identity.