Earlier this week, I posted Part 1 of this 2-part article. Here’s the link to the first if you need to catch up…http://melissaohden.com/unplanned-part-1/
2. Understand that there is power in saying “yes” and power in saying “no” to things.
I’ll admit it. I have a hard time saying no to people, especially when it comes to serving God through serving them. I have overspent finances, I have overworked my mind and body, I have overbooked my schedule in order to serve God and His people. I have been stressed out, spiritually and emotionally spent, and physically ill because of all of the “yes”es I’ve spoken. I want to please God, I want to be obedient and go wherever He leads me. But saying “yes” does not always equate with being obedient, nor does saying “no” with being disobedient.
And what I’ve learned along the way of saying “yes” one too many times is that sometimes by saying yes, we may be closing a door to God and to blessings instead of opening the door to Him and them, and likewise, by saying no to some things, we are actually throwing open the door instead of shutting it.
How do you know when you should say “yes” and when you should say “no”? Prayer is paramount. I knew from my prayerful conversations with God and the feelings that I experienced during and even following them that He was speaking to me. Building a relationship with God through prayer is also very important. Because I have the relationship with Him that I do, I knew that God often shows Himself and His plans to me through experiences and situations, through bringing people into my life. I also knew that God’s intentions for me are always good. I also know God well enough to know that when it comes to His plans for me, there is often so much more going on than what I can see or comprehend, and that by simply saying “yes” when I should will unlock the door to new and amazing possibilities.
God reminded me of this in April of 2012, when I traveled to Sedalia, Missouri to speak at an event for The Vitae Foundation. When the request to speak at their event crossed my desk a couple of months prior, I was excited about the opportunity to speak for them. But I was also torn. Olivia’s 4th birthday was April 26th, two days after their event. I was already scheduled to be in New Jersey on the 27th, and I was planning to take her to Disney World in Florida that week for her birthday. If I took on the Vitae event, it would mean that Disney was definitely out and I would be gone from home even longer that week than planned. What to do, what to do?
Yes, Olivia’s birthday is important. Yes, taking her on her first trip to Disney World is a big thing at her age. But I hadn’t booked the trip yet, which I knew was a sign that saying “no” to Disney and “yes” to Vitae was the right thing to do. As I opened my email on the day of the Vitae event, with a subject line that read “Small Surprise,” I knew that my “yes” had invited God into my life and the Vitae event in a very big way. `Here’s what the email from the Vitae Foundation shared:
“We just found out yesterday that a lady is attending our event was volunteering as a nurse at the hospital the night you were born. She says she held you…” While Michelle had not actually held me at St. Luke’s Hospital on the night that I was born, she had, indeed, held me when I was in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at The University of Iowa Hospitals when I was almost three months old. A curious search on the Internet regarding abortion survivors about four weeks before the Vitae event had led Michelle to me. Thirty-four years after rocking me in the NICU, as I was preparing to go home to my adoptive family, Michelle had not forgotten about me, the little girl without a name whom had survived a failed abortion attempt. As Michelle so aptly put it, “God burned your image into my brain, never to be forgotten.”
Michelle and I had started to correspond via Facebook on March 23rd that year, after she had found me through her web search. “Melissa, did you recover at the University of Iowa Hospital? If so, then I believe that I rocked you as a volunteer. I distinctly remember a tiny infant with that same story in 1977 or 1978,” she posted on my Fan page. “I did, Michelle!!!! Oh my gosh. I got to tour the NICU a few years back and see two of the nurses who cared for me there. It was 1977. Here I am at the airport, crying this morning, reading this. Thank you for helping to love me into life!” I quickly responded back to her.
By the time Michelle had read my response the next day, she had already visited my ministry website and viewed the picture of me as an infant, lying in the incubator, and she knew it was me that she had held.
Thirty-four years later, I was the one baby that she remembered distinctly. And although we offered up plans to connect by phone, between battling illness, traveling and speaking, and my responsibilities at home, as I headed off to Missouri the end of April, I hadn’t yet found the time to contact Michelle. I was waiting for my schedule to slow down so that I could give contacting her the time and attention that I wanted and she deserved, but God had other plans, thankfully. For unbeknownst to me, Michelle lived within an hour and a half of Sedalia, and when we briefly corresponded and she visited my website, she had learned of the upcoming event and she contacted Vitae to make plans to attend.
Words can’t even begin to describe what it was like to meet Michelle, to give her my thanks in front of a couple hundred people that night for her loving hands holding me years ago and for remembering me in a world that would often rather forget lives like mine. Simply put, that night in Missouri was a blessing; a blessing for me, a blessing for her, and a blessing for the Vitae Foundation and the people from the Sedalia area.
Michelle and I are in contact still today, and I can’t imagine my life without her or this puzzle piece of my experience. Meeting Michelle was a definite reminder to me of how much God loves all of us, how He surrounds us with people and experiences that reflect this and that show the world just who He is and who we are as His children.
And meeting Michelle made it so clear to me that saying “yes” was what I was called to do in this instance, no matter what plans I had made beforehand, for my “yes” coupled with His grace led to a transformational experience for Michelle, for me, for everyone in who was in attendance at the event, and everyone who has had a chance to read or hear about this experience.
I truly believe that God’s amazingly clear and consistent orchestrating of the events that I’ve shared with you are not only an example of how much He loves me, but how much He loves each and every one of us.
God continues to show the world through my life and yours that He loves us all so much that He is working in our lives every day, and His plans for our lives, particularly those that we don’t have planned for ourselves, are blessed gifts from Him.
Being responsible and planning appropriately in your life is a very important thing, but do you allow any “wiggle room” so to speak, in your life, for the Holy Spirit?
Are your words and actions inviting Him to come and guide you in ALL areas of your life?