When I finally finished my PhD in 1988, I had a lot of pent up energy, so I decided to take up rowing. I signed up for a class at Town Lake with the goal of taking out a single scull. But before they’d trust me with the equipment on my own, I had to learn to row as part of a team. I have to admit I was a terrible team member!
I passed the class, but when I started going out on my own, that’s when I realized why you learn on a team! It is bliss to float down the river, but it is really, really hard going back up the river to the boathouse on your own– without a coach and without the power of the other rowers!
“… what I longed for was a “rowing coach” to show me how to live as a Christian woman in all areas of my life.
Being a single sculler fit my personality before I became a Christian. My husband Steve and I were very independent in our careers. He was a lawyer and I was teaching and designing “grand social work programs” at UT. We juggled the responsibility of our two young daughters, and from what anyone could see from the outside, we looked just fine.
But like rowing against the current, trying to be Superwoman at home and work was very tiring. Secretly, I didn’t like who I’d become. Being raised in the Women’s Movement at UC Berkeley, it was very hard to admit any feelings of discontent to my husband. Didn’t I have it all? I felt pretty much like a “married single.”
When I did think about God, my attitude was: “Why aren’t You getting in MY boat and helping ME row?” As my silent discontent grew, meanwhile, my husband had started growing in his faith. In 1999, he shared a tape with me from a Christian speaker that seemed to be directed right at me!
The speaker said: “Did you ever think you weren’t meant to row your own boat, but that God is the Captain of the boat and he wants you to get in HIS boat and be one of HIS rowers?” That started me thinking of why doing life “my way” in a single scull felt so futile. In 2000 I put my faith in Jesus to be the Captain of my boat and that has made all the difference in my life.
As a newbie in having Jesus at the helm of my life, I stopped working for a time. I didn’t know how to integrate my faith into my work life. With Steve’s support, I immersed myself in Bible studies and volunteering in faith-based ministries, but what I longed for a “rowing coach” to show me how to live as a Christian woman in all areas of my life.
In 2004, I heard Cru staff member, Kay Scheffelin, talk about her ministry and I asked Kay if she would disciple me. Over the next 18 months, we met weekly and the Bible was our source for answers as we studied, prayed, and talked together. Kay set me at ease and made it safe to be honest and vulnerable.
Over time, we studied God’s views about husbands and wives in Christian marriage and Kay prompted me to talk over any new insights with Steve. She encouraged me to consider if God wanted me to do anything differently based on what I was learning. The Bible study with Kay led to better communication in my marriage and I began to trust that Steve and I were in the same boat, going in the same direction. In 2005, I decided to make my personal changes more public. I went to the courthouse and changed my name to Steve’s last name, and I presented the new documentation to Steve on our 25th anniversary.
God gave me a new identity when I accepted Jesus as the Captain of my boat, and God gave me a new unity in my marriage when I got in the same boat with Steve.
Kay also began to help me formulate how to be Holy Spirit-led in my work life. Before, working in secular settings, I thought it was “all on me” to solve the world’s problems. I thought if I had a PhD in my field, I’d be a mover-and-shaker, and I’d be amongst leaders who knew how make the world better. What a letdown to realize they didn’t know either!
But I learned how to see the world through God’s eyes: that He has a plan for this world and He has the means to implement the plan. He doesn’t need me, but He wants me to be an instrument in His plan.
Through lining up with God’s plan, I changed my work focus from thinking I need to do “great things,” to thinking I just need to doing small things with great love, as Mother Teresa said. I completed my clinical social work license qualifications through the State and received further training to become a Christian counselor with individuals, couples, and families.
Kay helped me become more aware of how people’s worldviews affect their thinking, and I am prepared now to offer my Christian worldview as my framework. There are many secular counseling techniques that are useful, but if they are not powered by the Spirit working in me and the person I am helping, my human “techniques” are only superficial. When I pray with and for my clients, our sessions are super-charged with his Spirit, leading and guiding us.
It is exciting to be a rower on God’s team, where I just do my part, and leave results to God. And I’m continually learning how to be a better team rower. Trusting Jesus to be my Captain continues to be an amazing trip down the river as one rower on a team, giving me the freedom, direction, and purpose I always wanted!
18 years ago, when I decided to get in God’s boat and go where He was going, He led me to Kay to be my Rowing Coach and she helped transform my life. Thank you, Kay. Thank you, Cru. And thank You, to the God of the Universe who cared enough for me to put me in His boat.