Welcome to Saturday Share!
The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus. It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line. Our stories are not finished and that’s the main point!
I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives. Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:
Lisa Anne Tindal
Asking for Help
By Lisa Anne Tindal
Last Saturday, I had my coffee with the morning still clinging to night. I was reluctantly grouchy and simply resigned to my responsibility. It was a day of outreach and although I’d told the others it’s not me who’s in charge, it seems I was. I long to be at home more, I am resistant at times to my executiveness of being a director. My clothes laid out the night before, two outfits, two important things happening on this day, prayed in the shower and decided to be different, asked God for help, to help me allow Him to shine through.
Something surprised me right away. I arrived at the church we’d be talking with the homeless who were there for breakfast. I was met by smiles from those who didn’t seem to be worried that the one in charge was running late. I was asked to explain why we were here, the coordinator in preparing to introduce me added, “Now, remind me what your ministry is called?” I told him our agency’s name, didn’t tell him we weren’t a ministry because well, I believe God said, “You are.”
My day had an itinerary and in the middle of “Grace Kitchen” and “Soup Kitchen”, I needed to hurry over to our women’s shelter, something wonderful would be happening there. We’d be recording a video to present at our upcoming event to increase awareness, to tell the “stories of Nurture Home”. I changed from T-shirt to pretty blouse and added my earrings and makeup. One by one, women sat in front of a man who volunteered to make our film and each of them, with tears and some nerves and absolute courage told of how they became homeless and how they came to live in our shelter, and what this means to them.
It was my turn, finally and we left the shelter to walk next door. Big lights, screen, and tripods, we crossed the backyard that separates the shelter from my office. He set up production, moved all the furniture around and made a place for me to sit, sort of cattycorner and behind me, my shelves that held photos of my children. “Should I just give my usual talk about the program?” I asked. “We’ll start with that.” His reply. I positioned myself unslumped and made a mental note about my tendency to tilt to one side my head as I speak. My hands shifted to my lap and I tried to steady them, linking my fingers, reaching for the charm on my bracelet that holds the seed of mustard. His first question prompted the overview, the mission, my heart for the work of restoring our hope and why trust is paramount but such a challenge to the women we serve. Some awkward spaces happened and thinking we were done, I sighed…” okay” and my sigh met a pause on his part, the producer asked, “Tell me how your faith is involved in your work, tell me about your life.”
I expect to see the tilt here. This is the part of the film that will say “Lisa”. This will be the footage that might surprise, may give pause, possibly engage another. I explained my prayers for my work, added that Nurture Home is not a faith-based program; but, because I bring my faith along, it’s there through me, I hope. Added that I pray for God’s equipping, discernment and the right words at the right time. I paused again, the pause waiting to be filled, the producer leaning slightly towards my frame on the camera’s frame as if both were so very patient. I began. “I grew up believing I should be afraid of God, that He was an angry authority figure who saw my struggles but didn’t care.
Because my father was an alcoholic and my mother worked so very hard, it was hard to know what the evenings would be in our home. Would there be a fight over money? Would my daddy not want to come home and face it all, numb himself to the troubles with whiskey and barrel into the house to meet my mama’s anger. I never knew what home would be like and so I understand the children who are unsure of where they will sleep. I’ve never been homeless; yet, I understand the uncertainty of what home will be. God has grown me to know He cared back then and that He cares now. I tell the women in the shelter that “Your story is my story.” and it is because I was in an abusive relationship for over eight years. I understand that they have a tough time believing my hardship, after all, I’m not the same now. But, their story is my story, not because of what we have in common; but because of what they remind me of in their struggle and in their surrender.” I continued speaking and my words seemed to be a stream from a river flow I never knew was there, adding “For years I had such anger and abandonment because my family never came to me, just miles away from their home and yet they never tried to help. What I’ve come to know is that they didn’t come because I never asked for help. This is how my faith in God has grown. I have learned to ask for help when distressed.
In my distress, I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice and my cry to Him reached His ears. Psalm 18:6 ESV
The video captures the essence of this. One woman, an eighteen-year victim of domestic violence and spiraling-down use of drugs is better now. Her advice? “I learned how to, that I could ask for help. It is okay to ask for help.” Days after the Saturday filled with goodness and light, I am still thinking about this realization I called an epiphany. Still thinking about how I asked God to help me that Saturday, to help me shine for him. I journaled, “I must find the courage to ask for what I need and to trust God, otherwise my doubts pull me into decisions that say my life doesn’t matter, that my choices have no value and my behaviors have no significance, that my needs go unnoticed, that I am not noticed by God.”
Like David expressed over 100 times in the book of Psalms, “help” is found, is called out for, is delivered. I must ask for help. I can ask for help. I can find myself in places that cause me question, I can fall back into doubt and dismay, I may stumble, I might fall or fall short. I can ask for help, I can believe. I can trust that my asking is heard.
The day ended dusky like the morning had begun still dark. I encountered a man with no teeth who asked me if I realized my eyes were crystal blue like light. Another asked to make me a ring from a dollar bill and then insisted I keep it. Another, a volunteer, said he felt the Holy Spirit had been with us all day. I told him then, of my morning prayer. We prepared to say our goodbyes and I asked him what he’d done before retirement. He shared that he had been a publisher. Silence, for a second and then I decided to ask, “What would you say if I told you I long to write a book?” He replied. “Everyone should write a book. Most will not though because they are either too busy or too afraid.” The question remains as I prepare to submit this piece. Will I be afraid to write, will I value opportunity as a chance for help? Will I continue my journey, most importantly will my prayers lead to opportunities to have his light shine through me, my words and my ways? I’m certain they will if I am unafraid to ask for my Father’s help. My cries will reach His ears.
Lisa Anne Tindal is the Director of a small non-profit. She’s involved in Children’s ministry and women’s ministry in her church. She’s mama to two adult children and wife to a man who understands her need for quiet. Her soul is nourished by painting and she hopes to publish a book one day about the women who believed in her, even when she felt they shouldn’t.