By Sharmaine L Hobbs, www.whenwomenawaken.com
In 2004, I took a trip to the Homestead Resort. When I got off at the Lexington exit to get some tablets, I saw a woman holding a sign that said, “STRANDED, NEED TO GET BACK TO MICHIGAN.” I charged a tank of gas on my credit card and gave her the receipt. I knew this woman was the real reason I was led to get off the exit. She was a stranger, but I recognized her. She was me. I wrote about the story in my journal and didn’t think about it anymore until 2008 when I shared it with a friend who shared it on his blog. I didn’t know how far it would travel or the impact it would have.
On January 1, 2011, I stood on the front of my lawn with 10 balloons in one hand and 10 prayers in another. I looked heavenward as I said the prayers with all of my heart and then I released the balloons. This ritual marked my leap of faith. When I went back inside, I immediately turned my attention to the vision I’d created for my life over the past three years when it looked like my life had been turned upside down. In actuality, it had been turned right side up.
I’d been in the real estate industry for the past 14 years. In 2008, things were churning in the marketplace. Even more so, things were churning on the inside of me. For a long time, I’ve wanted to pursue my “true north” in life, which is doing women’s ministry, writing and speaking. And even though I’ve been a fearless woman for most of my life, for some reason this time, I was frozen with fear. There seemed to be too much to lose. I’d always heard that you must give up something to get something, but life was taking that to a whole new level. Everything seemed to be in jeopardy. I wanted to pursue my purpose, but I didn’t want to give up the life I’d built, the home that I loved or the six digit income. But it was falling apart anyway.
There was so much to consider… the bills which were mounting, the mortgage was in arrears, the tax bills were due, my earning potential was plummeting and there was unfinished business in my life. But there was also this to consider… I’d reinvented my life from scratch on three other occasions – and even started a business in a broom closet-, picked myself up from having lost everything, was a single Mom at 17 and raised a wonderful son. I had championed many other things in my life. This time, though, fear gripped me. So instead of moving forward to do what had been a heart’s desire for so long, for the very thing that life had equipped and trained me to do – inspire, nurture and empower women – I was hanging on to the life that I had outgrown.
While life was swirling around about me, I took solace with my pen and pad. I wrote morning and evening. I’d started writing my first book, When Women Awaken, only to find out that in some areas of my life I was still asleep. It was as though the book was being written “to me and through me” moreso than the message I started out writing. There was some more growing to do. I started walking for my sanity and for clarity because it literally felt like the earth was moving under my feet. Life was chiseling on me and though I appeared strong and resolute on the outside, inwardly I felt I was crumbling. I remember a day when I was walking, I cried out to God, “Please help me; I feel so lost.” And the voice came back, “Wonderful, now you can be found.”
In July 2008, I said a prayer asking God to confirm, by sending me a sign, that I was to move forward. In August, I received an email from around the world from a young woman who had found me by way of the story I’d written about helping the stranded lady. She had read my whole website and she felt as though God was speaking directly to her. She shared her secret with me (after reading the story I wrote called The Secret) and how she felt so utterly low as a result of it and saw no way to mend her life back together. Her email name was leapoffaith08. I began mentoring and encouraging her by email and realized that God had answered my prayer through Luvim. She said He sent me to answer her prayer as well. I later realized that a book was being written between us as our wonderful story together unfolded. I found a younger version of myself in Luvim and got the opportunity to help her take many leaps of faith. She was an encouragement and inspiration to me and I realized what an incredible blessing had come my way while my life was “re-righting itself.” It was a good sign.
I’ve experienced identify theft in a good way. I lost my old “identity” and found my true and authentic self. Though the money is gone, I’ve appreciated in value as a woman and found I am much stronger than I ever knew. I’ve learned things I never could have had it not been for this experience – my dark night of the soul. The money will come back because I’m being true to myself. It feels incredible to use my gifts of writing and encouragement. I envisioned the impact I could make if fully devoted myself to it and created the vision I have in my heart. I realized that helping the lady in 2004 had built a bridge to Luvim and was building the bridge to my purpose. Many women hold an “invisible sign” in life, asking for help. That act of kindness has produced so many wonderful ripples. I could no longer ignore my heart knocking. I had to take the leap of faith and trust that all will be well, even though I don’t have it all figured out. It feels like the right thing to do.
Taking a leap of faith is not just about doing the unknown and the unthinkable, the daring or the miraculous. Sometimes it’s less dramatic yet still as significant. It could be leaping from despair to hope, from worry to faith, from unworthiness to worthiness, from un-forgiveness to forgiveness, from struggle to thriving. Or it could mean the choice to leave behind a life that is outgrown and reach for one that is waiting on you with open arms.
A leap of faith is simply finding the courage to follow your heart, to believe that the voice you hear is God directing your pathway and that He has your very best interests at heart. It’s believing that all will be well before you have the proof. We all have faith. In my case, I exercised it by leaping. I’m unafraid. Where your heart is, there your treasure will be. I look forward to the journey ahead and all it will bring and feel proud that I’ve taken a stand to follow my true path to empower and inspire women.
To read the whole story, look for my book, LEAP OF FAITH! coming in April 2011. Look for WHEN WOMEN AWAKEN in summer 2011. Sometimes, the only available mode of transportation in life is a leap of faith! Life is what you make it; live it like you mean it!