Tuesday, March 4, 2014
#DangerDays: Brenna Phillips' Story
Today's #DangerDays guest post comes from another Twitter friend, Brenna Phillips. Brenna has a long history of service to churches in children's ministry. She graduated from Florida Southern College in nearby Lakeland, FL and from New Orleans Seminary. Shje has also authored three illustrated children’s books: Savannah Goes to Children’s Worship and The Multi-Colored Promise and a third book not completely published on the Fruit of the Spirit.You can visit her website at www.brennaphillips.com and follow her on Twitter @brennap. Thank you, Brenna, for your faith, your courage and for sharing your heart with us today.
I grew up in a Christian home with Christian parents who took me to church nine months before I was born. They taught me all I needed to know about the Christian faith, living the Godly life, and making right choices. I made my faith decision at the age of ten and turned my young life over to Christ. I have had no doubts about that life-changing decision and have not strayed away from Christ. However, as I grew and matured as a Christian and as a professional, I struggled with self-esteem issues and making strong decisions about my professional life and career. I had difficulty living my life for me and always seemed to rely on others and do things they wanted me to do.
I graduated college with a BS in elementary education, yet did not feel a strong pull to teach in the school system. I loved children’s ministry and Christian education, so I enrolled in seminary and began my journey towards finding out what God meant by a children’s ministry calling for me. There was a group of incoming seminary students who attended orientation together and had many classes together that first term. I became friends with one guy and we grew to be close friends for a year and a half. Many of our other friends thought we were already dating, so we decided we would actually try the dating scene. It worked. However, I graduated with my MA in Christian education and he had one semester left to go before he graduated with his M.Div. He was called to be a pastor and because of our denominational stereotype, we decided to get married to help his chances of being called to pastor a church. I was going to put my professional dreams on hold and become the pastor’s wife and support my husband’s career first. Shortly after we were married, my husband was called to a small church. I served as the volunteer children’s minister. Although I loved this calling and adventure, I felt something was missing in my career and education. But I was doing what I thought pastor’s wives were supposed to do.
We always struggled financially in small churches and could barely make ends meet with our own finances. That first church was tough and God released us from that situation after only a year. With my husband’s computer science degree, he began working in the computer industry and I began teaching. The financial pressures were always tough and difficult to manage; however, God always provided for our basic needs. We had loving families who supported us and helped us as well. After many years of computer positions, my husband landed another senior pastor position. This time we would relocate to Delaware. This was a long way from our southern families; however, I was excited about the adventure because I was born only about 60 miles from the new church field. Having listened to my parents’ experiences of ministry in that area made me want to try something new in a different region. Ministry was hard and this northern region proved to be even harder, but we were adventurous people and up for the challenge.
We took over a 10-year old church plant that had been struggling with leadership challenges. The first few years went well and we saw some growth and discipleship successes; however, the financial pressures were still there for the church and for our personal lives. I was serving as the volunteer children’s minister and teaching preschool to add to the living expenses. I was growing professionally in my teaching career and learning to be a stronger leader in the church and in school. While I was growing professionally and expanding my career options, my husband’s pastoral career was stagnant and failing, and the church closed.
Then it happened. One night after dinner, my husband dropped an emotional bomb on my heart. He told me he had been unhappy in our marriage for many years and actually did not think we had a marriage; we were only roommates. This was quite the emotional blow to me as he had always told me I was number one in his life and he prayed for many years of future togetherness. This was the first news to me. I was not sure how to take this bomb dropped on me.
I entered professional counseling to deal with my personal issues of confidence and my difficulty of relying on other people, especially my husband. God showed me that I could be a strong person and have confidence in Jesus Christ. I tried to persuade my husband to attend counseling with me and reconcile our marriage; however, he had already checked out and was not willing to work on our relationship with me. Because of some personal choices he had made, he had already shut me out of his life. I did not let that stop me though in my personal growth and learning experiences.
We separated and moved apart from one another in different states. Through all of the marriage and separation struggles, God continued to heal me as I looked to him for more constant confidence and reliance. Within ten days of relocating, I had a small job that served as a transition to get me back to a new state, a new focus, and a new life. God brought me to a great church with loving ministries of healing. As my transition job was ending, God brought me to my dream job, which is still in ministry and education. God never left me through my broken world experience and continues to heal me everyday. He places people in my life everyday to help heal deep wounds and move me closer to Him and further my educational dreams in my career and ministry.