This post is from a new member to South Main Baptist Church. This was originally posted on Kaci’s blog which can be found here. Enjoy.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2009
Before I begin, know that there is a moral to this story, and that when this blog is all said and done – I’ll bring you back to the biggest lesson I’ve learned, and blessing I’ve received, in my departure from my job at lululemon.
It was probably late June/early July when Corey and I started “church shopping.” He was raised Baptist, I, non-denominational – but in our young adult lives, we had gotten far from the routine of our upbringings, so we set out with open minds and open hearts to find a place to call our church home.
We visited various churches over the course of almost two months, some too stiff, some too much of a rock band production, and some, just cold. It wasn’t until we walked into South Main Baptist Church that everything changed.
From the very second we stepped foot into that church, we knew we were home. From a merely ornamental perspective, we were in awe of the architecture and beauty of the symbolism of the Sanctuary. From there, it was kind smiles and warm hugs that greeted us into this place. It seemed as though we never went anywhere alone in that church. There were always members at every turn to make sure we felt welcomed and supported.
What we sensed and appreciated immediately was that there was no agenda. This was the feel of a small, hometown church, but in a big, beautiful midtown space. This was truly a place of genuine and authentic worship. Of people that acknowledged how difficult life can be, of how imperfect we each are, and how we all truly need that place of love, acceptance and encouragement to make it in this life.
Once we visited SMBC, we never had the slightest desire to visit another church. No matter how late we were out watching UH games (go coogs!) on Saturday nights, we were up bright and early for “big church.” It was a few months in that we decided to brave Sunday school, and it just kept getting better.
Our Sunday school teacher, Toni, is one of the coolest, realest women we’ve ever met. Her balance of life experience and biblical study makes for lessons that truly tug on your heart strings. It seems as though every Sunday, Toni and Steve (our pastor) are speaking directly to me. They know what I need to hear before I’ve even realized it.
Steve Wells, our pastor, is nothing shy of incredible. I wouldn’t even call what he does preaching, it’s more sharing. This is a man that has committed his life to doing God’s will, and we’ve felt such an incredible connection and friendship with him since day one. His passion, honesty and openness are such a rarity, something we both really strive for.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, I felt compelled to share, because we had our new member lunch today. Just about 6 weeks ago, Corey and I decided to join and become members of the South Main family. Today, we were given the opportunity to fellowship with other new members of the church and spend time with our beloved pastor after the service.
As we sat to eat, I told the members at my lunch table about my recent career changes. The votes of encouragement and prayer put my soul at ease in a way that I can’t explain. Steve immediately asks what it is I’d like to do, and begins naming members of the congregation he wants to introduce me to at Wednesday night bible study.
A few moments later, as Steve is addressing the group as a whole, a gentleman passes by in the hallway. Steve stops everything, asks him to join us, tells me that’s who he wants me to meet, then goes on with our topic of group conversation. The gentleman patiently waits during the rest of our lunch, not knowing what Steve wanted.
Upon ending with prayer, Steve introduces me to a long-time member of the church, Wade Cline. He was the former managing director & general counsel of the Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. I had mentioned to Steve in earlier conversation that I was interested in a PR Director position with an energy company. It was such a blessing to stand and speak with Wade and to realize I had so many people around me, such an extensive network, that truly cared about my happiness and well being.
As I sit here, preparing to send my resume to Wade, I have to stop and give thanks for all my blessings. South Main has become such a family to me – and to know that you have so many people that are committed to your true growth and development, and are going to pray with you and support you through all life’s stations, really moves me.
As I was driving to work last Wednesday, before my manager let me know my resignation was official immediately, I was contemplating what I should do that day.
Option 1 was go to work, put in whatever time needed to accomplish the day’s tasks, go work out, do laundry, and prepare meals for the rest of the week. These were all things pressing on my mind and that needed to be tended to much sooner than later.
Or, option 2, was the one pressing on my heart. It was to go to Corey’s little brother’s last football game. There’s no guarantee he’ll make the team next year, or ever play high school sports again, and it was important to him and his family that we be there. His mother had also prepared a meal for us to share and celebrate after the game.
Option 2 would mean I wouldn’t get to work out, the laundry would have to wait another day, I’d have no healthy meals ready for the next day, and my car would still be at work because Corey would have to pick me up promptly at 4:00 pm when I got off to make it to the 4:30 game. We’d have to make a trip back to the store to pick it up, and I’d get home with enough time to shower and get to sleep, and my stressful to-do list would continue to grow.
On my way to work that morning, I prayed. I prayed that God would show himself to me by way of helping me make the decision he’d have me make. That he would give me the strength to make the right choice and be strong in my decision.
In the previous weeks, even months, I felt guilty for leaving when I got off at 4:00 pm on Wednesdays. I felt obligated to stay and work extra hours like my store manager, and often felt looked down upon because I was unavailable for work/meetings/classes on Wednesday nights because of bible study, and Sundays for church. Though no one ever said they didn’t support me and my decisions to put church before work, I could often feel the inconvenience or displeasure it caused some.
Well, that very morning, as I said my amen and walked into the store, I was told I was free to go. If God hadn’t been more clear in my life that day than any day before, I’ve been blind. Blinded by my personal goals and obligations, by my pride and social stature – but that morning, I felt God’s hand revealed in my life.
That fateful Wednesday morning, I was given the blessing of family and the blessing of time. I was then free to go about my day, do my laundry, work out, prepare nutritious foods AND be present at Clayton’s football game. I could enjoy the fellowship of a meal with his family and not have my body at the dinner table and my mind in my daily planner. I wouldn’t stress about the next day’s 6:00am class, followed by an 8:00am manager’s meeting and a merchandising shift lasting until 9:30pm. My life and time were mine again. Mine to give to family, to give to God.
When we got to the game, I told Corey’s parents, who have been of great counsel to me, that I had been told I was no longer needed. They didn’t want to say they told me so, because they had – rather, they wanted to make sure I was OK, happy, and that I knew how much it meant to them that I was there, sharing that evening with them. They prayed for me and with me, as they have been doing for so long, and made sure I knew that I would be taken care of and provided for in bountiful and blessed ways.
During this recent transitional period, many people attributed (or even blamed) my personal changes on Corey and the progression of our relationship. While I do give him tremendous credit for helping me get clear on what is truly important in life, it’s the credit to God that I have to give. It’s the blessing of South Main Baptist Church, and Corey, that has brought me so much peace.
Per my departure from lululemon, I received numerous emails, of which brought so many tears of joy and thanks. Email from fellow ‘lemons, old classmates, even the parents of my childhood best friends. One of which, was from a current lululemon employee. I’d like to share a portion of that email with you, as it encompasses everything I’d wished to have accomplished there:
“…you have no idea how excited I am for you, Kaci. You are such an inspiration. After reading your blog, I was in total shock and awe. Not only from the situation, but from your passionate writing. I know you already know this, but you’re destined for great things. Thank you for being you and not holding back the truth. You are the breathe of fresh air that people need to ignite the fire in their life. Thank you for everything lululemon and personally related. You’ve helped me find my passion for nutrition and church again. You’re a blessing, and if you ever need ANYTHING – don’t hesitate to ask. We’re going to miss you at work! Enjoy your time off. PEACE!”
How incredible does it feel to be a “blessing” to someone? I’ve reflected back on this email so many times now – and it brings me much joy to know that I, Kaci Coble, someone that many people once thought of as being the polar opposite of the “church type” – can inspire someone to get back there. To feel the vote of confidence, encouragement and thanks from someone I worked with makes the entire experience worth it. I’m even happier to say that this person will be joining Corey and I for church next Sunday, and we couldn’t be more proud to share our church home with anyone willing to attend.
So, as I go to enjoy my day of rest, I ask that if you have the slightest interest in finding a church home, or just simply visiting to experience the joy that can be yours in that place, I openly invite you to join us anytime. South Main is a place of grace and peace, a place that I can’t give enough thanks for.
I couldn’t be more confident in my recent decision, and continue to feel the blessings God has bestowed upon me per my leap of faith. I’ve got a long journey ahead of me, in my work life, as well as my spiritual life, but I do know that as diamonds endure vigorous polishing so that they may one day shine – I too will experience tremendous adversity on my path, but it is this very adversity that will shape my character and give me the strength and wisdom to become the woman God has planned for me to become.
Grace and Peace,