I still remember waking up at a friend's house around 4AM. It was chilly, the end of one season and the beginning of another. The date was Friday, January 29, 2016. I was relocating from Florida to Virginia. I was nervous, excited, and more numb than anything else. Who did I know in Virginia besides my husband-to-be, Jonathan? What would life be like in this new season, state, city, church... in my new life?
I got dressed. Packed up my things and hopped in the car. This friend of mine is wise, intelligent, well-lived, well-traveled, a fabulous mom and wife, and successful in her career field. During our car ride, she shared a personal challenge that she was facing. She encouraged me to know that no matter where we find ourselves in life, there will be challenges we must overcome. I cannot say the conversation was what I thought it would be yet it was everything I needed. I think I forgot to mention that this friend is more than a friend, but she is a mentor and a role model. Not too often do mentors always share their current challenges, but this time she did and it provided me this unusual sense of comfort and reassurance that I was more than ready to overcome and conquer the challenges that would come in my new life.
Fast forward one month...
The initial newness had worn off. I was still using my GPS to navigate Richmond yet was more comfortable getting out and about. I found myself unhappy and lost. I began to question God and what I thought for sure I heard Him say. It was hard to express because I was finally living in the same town as Jon but the leap was so long (literally in miles) to Virginia that I had not ever really thought about there being a period of no lights, no cameras, just action.
See, back in Florida, I was doing weekly, live tv interviews, writing for national publications, had just started a national political group, and was really getting in a nice groove. Two and half years before my move to Virginia I had moved from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, and that was rough. But I was finding my place. I had found a nice groove with my job and enjoying life. As you can imagine, my life got even better when I reconnected with Jon and we started dating. All in all, life was good, not perfect, but good.
So here I am in Virginia, with a new job, a new church home, a new state and city to learn. I found myself unhappy and missing home and my comfort zone.
I questioned God..
"Where did I miss you God?"
"God, why did you tell me to accept this job?"
"God, why was I mislead? Why did you allow me to be in such a hostile place?"
It was tough. I mean TOUGH.
Over the months to follow, I questioned, "Who is Chelsi Henry Bennett?"
And, I was led back to quiet times with Jesus.
I had to dive deep into my heart and allow God in to speak truths to me. I had to be reminded that my purpose was greater than writing for national publications. I had to be reminded that my identity was not in what I did OR who people thought I was. I was reminded identity is found by spending time with God through prayer and reading the Bible. God made it clear to me that I while I seemed hidden, He was protecting and preparing me. And, I had to trust Him through the pain, mistreatment, being lied on, talked about, and just misunderstood. I had to trust that in my new life, this new season, He had a plan and purpose for me. I had to trust He had a purpose for me there being in Virginia with no cameras or lights.
God just wanted me. He didn't want Chelsi P. Henry who was on for cameras. He didn't want Chelsi P. Henry that was constantly striving for more success. He wanted the Chelsi He knew before I was formed in my mother's womb. He wanted the Chelsi who as a teenager would fast for days and weeks to hear His voice. He wanted the Chelsi that wasn't primarily guided by advisors telling her the next best political move.
God wanted the Chelsi who just wanted to seek Him. WHEEEEEWWW!
Where do you find yourself when no one is looking, when life is super tough, when how you imagined life becomes a distant fairytale? When you are doing everything you know to be right and still aren't getting a break?
WHO ARE YOU? How do you see yourself? How does God see you?
In September, we did a 30-day campaign called, "In Christ I Am..." It was birthed from my identity search over the last few months. If you missed out, please visit our Instagram page. See, I know the things God has called me to, I just haven't seen them manifested in my life as I thought they would. I have wondered where and if I missed God?
Now, on Sunday, October 23rd, almost eight months later, my certainty is in the faithfulness of God, not myself or my current position or future position. My certainty is in the fact that my Lord and Savior had to swear by His own name because there was no greater. My certainty is in the fact that I serve the God who is Alpha and Omega. My certainty is in the fact that I KNOW all that God has done in my life and how far He has brought me and surely He will continue His work in my life (Phil 1:6).
So, while there are no lights or cameras shining in my face, there is action. While I haven't written for a while or sent a newsletter to my list, there is action. God has been doing intensive surgery on my heart, my emotions, and my dreams and goals. God has been setting up things in private for me to enjoy. God has been opening doors that truly no man can close. And, more importantly, God has entrusted me to start a young adult ministry with my husband (www.TheReturnRVA.com), pour into young women, and be able to watch the Word work miracles in their lives.
Dear friend, today I encourage you to embrace and ENJOY where God has you. There are seasons in life and where you are is not where you will always be. Yet, if you know who you are in Christ, you will be able to celebrate the blessings and stand firm in storms.
Chelsi Henry Bennett is the Founder of AlwaysPraying.com. She is a transplant to Virginia and President and CEO of The CHB Group (www.chbgrp.com). She is married to her favorite pastor, Jonathan and serves with him in ministry at The Return RVA. Follow Chelsi on social media: @chelsihbennett
Here young adults share their struggles and victories to encourage you on your Christian journey. You are never alone! God is with and for you and we always praying for you!