We all have a story to tell! Personal Connection is just one of the ways we share stories here at Circles of Faith. Ordinary women are doing extraordinary things for God. We hope Chelle’s story encourages and inspires others to take that next step to what God is calling them to do. 

In our spotlight this month is COF contributor Chelle Wilson

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Faith

Tell us your FAITH story.

My FAITH story? There wasn’t a time when faith wasn’t a constant in my life. My dad was ordained into the ministry when I was four; I literally grew up in church. For much of my life, faith was habit. Calling faith a habit is not to diminish its value in any way. Habits are a good thing.

Hebrews 12:11 reminds us that,

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.(NIV).

I remember my adult decision to connect to a body of faith. I was in college, desperately needing connection. I needed fellowship. I’ve never not needed it since. As a child, I believed that faith would cover all the gaps. As a grown woman, wife, mother, writer, I live by Brené Browns words…

“Faith isn’t an epidural. It’s a midwife who stands next to me saying, ‘Push. It’s supposed to hurt.’

It’s taken me nearly 50 years, but I get it. Discouragement comes and sometimes stays. Some days I am strong, wise, and wonderful, and other days despite faith, I am flawed, frail, and beautifully human. Genuine faith reminds us that despite discouragement, failure, fear, we are not, never have been alone. If we could do this thing called life without God, we would not seek His face. Our power derives from our connection to Him—FAITH. Faith acknowledges that we do nothing alone. My last word on faith comes from Rabindranath Tagore (I love that My Father in Heaven speaks to me in so many voices and sends messages across time, culture, and space to help me understand His Ways)…

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”

Life

What does LIFE look like for you?

For me? LIFE is a delightful journey. I’ve often described my life as a trip taken on a bus, me gazing out the rear window. I am not a planner. My two closest friends and My Beloved (husband) are, that is most certainly why they are in my life. Life is my greatest adventure ever taken, and gazing dreamily out that back window, I marvel at how far I’ve come. I often declare my gratitude that I am not driving the bus that is my life. I would not have taken the detours, discovered the majesties, or tested the boundaries had I been without God. When God allows me to look back, as the old spiritual How I Got Over says, “my soul looks back and wonders, how I got over.” I am truly stunned. Were I to imagine God’s fingerprints on the picture that is my life, you wouldn’t see a single image of me at all.

As to the practical matter of what my life looks like, I am third of four living generations of women in my family. We are strong, proud, deeply faith-filled women who choose even stronger men to love and make lives with. I married the one true love of my life, prom date, co-conspirator, and fellow sojourner 20 years ago this month. We make beautiful sometimes mellifluous occasionally dissonant music and pretty brown babies together. Together, we’ve watch a mini-him and a mini-me grow into remarkable people. Raising them together taught us about ourselves, about one another, and gave us profound respect for the parents who got us here.

When (if) I ever get it all together, I will have become the empty and transparent vessel He delights to use. In the meantime, I laugh a lot. Quoting Maya Angelou…

"I am serious, so I laugh a lot. You need to laugh. You don’t laugh enough. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh." –

COMMUNITY

How does community inspire your life?

Writing about COMMUNITY would have looked very different to me only six short months ago. I am a very social person. I’ve been an active parent advocate and champion of public education since our children started school. I sit on several boards that focus exclusively on providing opportunities for children in my local community. But being social is not necessarily fostering community. I belong to a community of faith, but have ALSO found surprisingly profound connection and powerful instances of prayer, worship, and genuine friendship in the community that found me (I found) online. I never imagined it would be this way. I have real friends; we hang out, but there was something about opening my heart online that filled my spirit and made me brave. I am braver because of my new community. 

Online community? Nuts, right? But let me ask you this…what would you risk to be authentic? Could you really be as open as you could be in your RL (real life)? More so? Here are lessons I’ve learned from online community:

  1. If you embrace it, they will embrace you. Once I opened myself to the possibility, I made genuine connections. I started caring. They started caring back. It was the natural evolution of relationship. We have enfolded one another in laughter, in prayer, in genuinely seeking answers to honest questions. I kept questioning it, until I realized that it was what it was, and it worked.
  2. You will discover that you are less than you thought, and more than you imagined. We are not always as (fast, slow, etc.) as we thought, and more (compassionate, seeking, etc.) than we realize. If you are open, if you dare to reveal the soul of yourself in community, what you learn will likely surprise you. You may begin to see yourself as others see you, and you might very well learn lessons you could not have mastered any other way.
  3. God will meet you in new ways. (enough said).

INTERSECT

Where and how does the above all come together for you?

One day mycomfortablelife turned upside down. Panicked, with nothing better to do, I started to write. Consistently, obsessively, I wrote. I wrote like my life depended on it. (It did…) As it turned out, my life wasn’t upside down after all; blessings were piled up on the left as I looked desperately to the right. Once I found my feet, Treat Me To A Feast: Notes from My Abundant Life, my blog and my writing life, was born.

I learned to write myself out of the scary places. Away from my doubts. I learned the joy of feeling the wind whip through my hair while I joyfully chase after God. Sometimes the biggest risk you can take is to be yourself. Not ambivalently, not arrogantly, but authentically. Genuinely, “Yes, this is whom God made, and He couldn’t be wrong, so I’ll just trust Him.”

So, for me the intersection of FAITH, LIFE, and COMMUNITY is this life, which has nothing at all to do with luck. Neither is any of this coincidence. I firmly believe, I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God speaks with many voices, and if you are present and paying attention, He speaks to you, even if you find yourself marveling from whence His message comes.

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