Growing up I was an ultra-perfectionist, and I held myself and everyone else to impossible standards. School and sports occupied most of my time, and I approached both with an unapologetic harshness and a seething spirit of selfishness.

I spent my high school and college years willfully separated from God. I rebelled, openly and without reservation, doing what I wanted to do with no real regard for anyone. I ignored God. Worse, I told myself, and anyone who gave me an ear, that He didn’t exist. I was at war with the choices I knew were good for me, and I thought I knew more and better than everyone else. And when God began to nudge me gently, waiting patiently for me to turn toward Him, I continued to ignore His touches. So finally, He did something that He knew would get my attention.

In April 2007 at 26, I was diagnosed with cancer. Several treatments followed, but it was during one treatment in particular when God revived my connection with Him, a connection that I thought didn’t exist. That summer, I received the highest dose of radiation available. Quarantined for 72 hours for literally being radioactive, I was alone and I was sick. The first few hours were fine. Isolated in my parents’ bedroom, I thought I had a handle on things. But then, I started to feel weird, and that weird feeling would eventually snowball into a full-fledged hysteria.

The world was spinning. A dizzying panic rushed over me like an intense and violent flame. I became so completely terrified, and there was nothing I could do to calm down. Losing control of myself was not something I was prepared to handle. A disciplined athlete, I had always felt mentally and physically prepared to meet any challenge. But I could not, for the life of me, pull myself together.

I laid down on the floor. It was there, on the cold bathroom tile, that I broke.

“I know You’re there,” I whispered. “I need You. Please help me. Please.”

After that day, I thought a lot about what I thought.

If I don’t believe in God, I reasoned, then who was I talking to in there?

God spent the next few years softening my heart and His grace went to work on me. In August 2009 I met my husband, Brent. He was instrumental in the reparation and nurturing of my relationship with God. He encouraged me to study the Word. We attended church together, and our post-service discussions allowed me to discover God’s love in ways I had never experienced. As a child, I never felt a real connection with God, but now I could feel His presence more than ever.

It was that newfound connection to God that sparked an idea on the way home from church one morning in 2011. Brent and I decided that for our niece Hannah’s birthday, we would make her a book about Hannah from the Bible. We were surprised when we gave her the present that she had no real knowledge of her, or any of the women in the Bible. As I talked to her about it, part of me wished that I would have had more of a connection to God’s Word and His teachings when I was younger. Specifically, I wished that I had learned about women whose lives were a special and significant part of God’s plan.

Bible Belles became a sort of side project over the next three years, and Brent and I worked on it together. We didn’t decide to launch it as a company until February 2014, just one month before I was due with our first child, a girl. Having been through and survived multiple bouts with cancer, I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be a mother. When I found out I was sick, I decided to reprioritize my life and decisions for how to live out my days (however many of them were left). I never considered that marriage and family were going to be part of my story, but God had different plans. The time we spent preparing for the arrival of our baby was the time when we felt God calling us to take this endeavor from project to profession.

We listened to what God was telling us to do, not knowing exactly where we were headed.

For so long, I was enslaved by the following mantra: “I don’t need any help; I can do it by myself.”

But Proverbs 15 verse 22 says this:
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

It wasn’t until I realized that God was there that I began to understand that I am not designed to do anything on my own. We are all uniquely created, yes, but inherently made to depend and seek out support and guidance, from Him and from others. That was a hard lesson for me to learn; I had always viewed asking for help as a sign of weakness. Launching Bible Belles has forced me to apply this lesson often by seeking counsel from God about the direction He wants us to take, as well as others whose expertise is crucial for us to consider before we take our next steps.

Throughout this process, I have learned (and continue to be reminded) that even though I will make mistakes, God does not. I am not perfect, far from it, but He is. When a decision is complicated and intimidating, I try to cling tightly to the truth: He has laid out a path for me, and it doesn’t matter that I can’t see where we’re going or how we’re going to get there. It is His path, not mine, and the journey of my life belongs to Him.

It is His path, not mine, and the journey of my life belongs to Him.

Many times our hardships in life directs us towards the path of our purpose. Have you noticed how any of your past experiences have given you a glimpse into your purpose?

 

Photo: Whitney Justesen

Erin Weidemann
Erin Weidemann

Erin is an enthusiastic and goofy mom to two children, one of them with paws. She is a wife, author, teacher, former college athlete and a five time cancer survivor. In her spare time she enjoys going to the beach with her husband and daughter, coaching softball, and pretending she can bake. Alongside her husband, she is the co-founder of Bible Belles, an organization committed to teaching girls about the female heroes of the Bible.

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