One man’s journey to joy, as told by Lori Hiscock
That’s been the topic of the GCC series that is just wrapping up. For me though, it’s much more personal than a sermon series. Let me share my breakthrough story.
My story started about seven months ago. I was in a painful place. My emotions weren’t just up and down. I felt completely down and out.
It was a Saturday and I was at GCC, sitting in my seat surrounded by my two daughters and a friend of theirs that we had brought along. The series was Don’t Call Me a Christian, which I found interesting. I never considered myself to be a Christian, but I’ve always tried to do the right thing and lived my life by the Golden Rule, as I was taught as a kid.
Christian was a label. I didn’t want to be labeled, so I stayed away. As I sat there in the crowd on that busy Saturday evening, I was lost and felt abandoned. I was emotionally broken. The direction I thought I was going in was suddenly gone, and I had no answers to anything.
I had nothing but doubt in my mind about who I was, what I was doing in life, and what my next move was going to be. I had always felt like I was in control of my thoughts and the course I was taking, but that feeling was gone. I wish I could tell you what it was during that service that struck me, but I can’t for the life of me remember the words. I just remember feeling raw emotion, and it all came out. I tried to compose myself because I was sitting with my girls but I couldn’t. I literally wept.
There was no manly way to cover it up. It was out of control just like I felt inside. I sent my girls to the Eatery for a treat to give myself a few minutes. The plan was to just compose myself and head out to meet them. As I sat there with my head in my hands, doing my best to compose myself, a greeter grabbed my shoulder and took me up to meet Pastor Beeson. I tried to pull it together but I couldn’t. I just kept crying.
I was honestly at the lowest point of my adult life, or so it felt. Pastor Beeson told me that it takes a strong man to show emotion like that, but I felt anything but strong. I just remember saying, “I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. I am sad and I can’t stop it.”
I told him about the lingering pain and confusion of a broken relationship and how that had triggered the downward spiral. That feeling of being hated by someone had really gotten to me.
His response was personal and eye opening. He said, “I have said some things today that will probably make some people mad at me. There might be people that don’t even come back to Church because what I’ve said today is controversial. People get mad at me and it makes me sad. It happens all the time. Sometimes I sit at my desk and I’m just sad. BUT, in those times of being sad, you have to think to yourself, ‘Have I lost joy?”
“What is joy to you?'” he asked. My thoughts immediately went to my girls. They are pure, innocent joy to me. But they are just kids. I’m a full time single dad and my daughters are my life, but they should not be burdened with being my sense of joy. What Pastor Beeson was referring to was true joy. I didn’t get it at first. He prayed with me and asked God to help me and my girls find this joy and peace. After he was done praying with me, he took my church program and wrote, “The Joy of the lord is my strength” (Saul); “Damascus Road”; and “Who are you, Lord?”
I wrote on that program, “Am I unhappy, or have I lost joy?”
I have pondered that question daily. I keep the program from that day on my bedside table as a reminder. I had no joy that day when I walked into church. I left with a huge question that I needed to answer. I gave myself to God after thinking about that question: “What is Joy?” That has given me joy, purpose, and direction.
A year ago, I would have laughed if you suggested that I would be an active participant at church. Now, I don’t know where I would be without God. I find comfort, direction, peace and joy in Him. He has brought writing, creativity and professional direction to me. He has given me a renewed purpose and cause. I have performed with the awesome band at GCC, my girls have served with the toddlers downstairs, and we have been welcomed with open arms by everyone.
Had that greeter not taken me up to pray with Pastor Beeson, I never would have done it. I needed that push. I needed someone to relate to. Everyone from the greeter to Pastor Beeson to the people at the Eatery with my girls were placed there for me, all helping me take the steps I needed to reach my moment of breakthrough.