I have big hair.
I’m young. I’m a woman.
I’ve never had a lot of money. My dad was an uneducated, ex-heroin addict. He later became a preacher… a street preacher; I grew up at an outdoor church in a homeless park. I’m multi-racial—as a youngster I didn’t know whom I was supposed to fit in with or what I was supposed to look like. I was never popular. I was never the best at anything.
I know what you’re thinking: Wow, this girl is crazy amounts of cool.
Obviously not. I’ve never been cool. And not only are all of these things a part of me, some days they still follow me around. I’ve been on stages in this country that I’ve been told I was “the first woman on,” or “the first non-white on.” Seriously. Those are real quotes. I’ve been told that I’m too young to do what I do. I’ve been told to cut my hair to look older. I’ve been told to straighten my hair to look whiter. I’m still looked down on by numerous PKs (pastor’s kids) I knew growing up and some I now meet on the road, because my dad “wasn’t a real pastor; he was a street preacher.” So no, I’ve never really found a box I’ve felt comfortable or welcomed in. And up until these past couple of years, I thought all of these things were negative things—vices that stood in the way of me being effective.
But then I preached in a women's prison in Alaska, and that all changed.
I performed 2 pieces and then shared the Gospel—I mostly preached about sin, true love, and true redemption (really, what else is there?). The response was powerful—I was completely humbled. As the lines of women, both guards & inmates approached me, whether with smiles or with tears, I learned many things. One, they never had a woman speaker in this prison—all had been older men, and it was extremely hard for these women and girls to receive from them. Two, most speakers that they heard from did not come from backgrounds similar to theirs (broken homes, life on the streets, addiction, abuse, etc.—all parts of my own life), and thus they felt like the speakers were better than them or talking down to them. Three, all of these women thought I looked like them. There were Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians, First Nations (what some know at Native Americans), Hawaiians, and more predominantly, Natives (what some know as “Eskimos” – though a derogatory term in Alaska.) The Natives there would pull on my hair, asking if it was real, and then commenting, “You have big hair! You look like us! Are you Native?” I looked like them. I came from where they came from. I didn’t talk down to them. I was young, I was a woman, I had big hair. As I cried out to God in the mountains of Anchorage, Alaska, all my heart could feel was, “You were designed for this.”
In his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Pastor Rick Warren writes,
“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”
I have found this to be undoubtedly true. For me, it was my greatest vices, seeming roadblocks, and most intimate sins that allowed the connection between these women and me.
Everything in my life had designed me to not be the best, not to be privileged or admirable, but to be at a level that the average person, the sinner, the addict, and the woman in a prison in the woods could hear the Gospel from. It is these same vices that have allowed me to be relatable to various specific groups all over the country. Like Pastor Rick said, others have found healing in my deepest wounds.
What has your life designed you for? Perhaps there are stories in your past that you regret—because of those stories, what groups of people can you reach? Perhaps there are physical traits about yourself that you don’t always love—what advantage does this give you in certain settings? Perhaps you don’t fit in a box. What can you now do with your uniqueness to be a catalyst of a brand new movement? Because of who you are, what you’ve gone through, and what you’ve done, who do you relate to? What deepest wounds of yours can help heal others?
The things that make you unique and specific, whether your struggles or victories, are what God will use—uniquely and specifically, in other people’s struggles, for their victory.
In the Bible we see many examples of God using people’s history and past to reach a specific group of people, one of them being Paul the Apostle. He was a Jew, a “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phi. 3:5), but was also a Roman citizen and was taught in very prestigious schools, learning Classic Greek as well as Koine Greek (the dialect of the common people). Because of his broad education and his family history, Paul understood both of these cultures. After his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 22, & 26), Paul would later become a missionary to reach both groups, both the Jew and the Gentile (1 Corinth. 9). On top of that, he used to be a murderer, and could relate to people’s dark pasts. Living amongst & understanding both of these very different cultures, as well as the many sins of his own flesh all contributed to why he was so effective to the first-century world. He looked like them. He talked like them. He had been where they had been.
He was designed for this.
Perhaps my dad, an ex-heroin addict, was the perfect person to reach the addicts and homeless on the streets. Perhaps Paul, a multi-cultured murderer, was the perfect missionary to reach many societies and tell them about the depths of sin & grace. Chances are, you can’t do exactly what I can do, and I can’t do exactly what you can do. We’re on the on the same team, but we’ve been designed with different skills & roles for different strategies against the same Enemy.
Really, I’m just a young woman, with a dad from the streets, with big hair. But now more than ever, I am excited about how I look, where I’ve been, and who I am.
We don’t have to be everything. We just have to be more of who we already are.
He’ll use anyone and anything… if we let him.
Philippians 1:12: "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel." - Paul