I found God through a ‘Self Development’ Book – Emily’s Story
In 2013, I started working for a fitness apparel company. I was immediately attracted to, border line obsessed with, the organization’s culture of goal setting. Upon being hired, each employee was given a packet of questions and a goal coaching session. The packet contained questions like ‘what would you do if you could not fail?’ or ‘if money were no object, what would you do for work?’ and my favorite, ‘write a 10-year vision for your life’. The exercise challenged me to describe the vision with as much detail as possible. I loved this experience and it unlocked something on the inside of me.
My first role with the company was as a store manager. This meant I got to lead my entire team, anywhere between 20 and 40 people, through the same goal setting workshop. It was fantastic. Even when my team was working on the sales floor I couldn’t stop talking with them about their goals and dreams. People’s different interests, their fears, desires and roadblocks fascinated me.
My energy for the topic was endless.
Over the years my interest deepened and I began to research the topic in my spare time. My nightstand held a growing collection of books like, ‘The Secret’, ‘Magic’, ‘Setting 1,5,7 Year Goals’, and ‘Unleashing the Giant Within’. From there I began reading books on manifestation by Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. I was hungry for meaning and purpose and a connection to something greater than myself to set and achieve these goals. My passion intensified as I surrounded myself with like-minded goal setters. I ran a half marathon, I traveled to new countries, I got promotions at work and the list goes on.
It was during a casual conversation with a co-worker, that I shared how I was craving more of a spiritual ‘routine’ in my life. I wanted something beyond the books I read each morning and night and at work. I needed something that felt regular, like Sunday hikes to spend time with the universe, that kind of thing. She chatted with me about her own routine and I was intrigued. She said, ‘my partner and I watch Oprah Super Soul Sunday every morning at 9am, we love it, it’s totally our routine. We look forward to coffee and the different topics. Maybe you can do that?’
I loved the idea. I loved Oprah, self-development, mornings and coffee. Yes!
A few weeks into my new routine, Oprah interviewed a Pastor named Wintley Phipps. He was talking about his newest book, ‘Your Best Destiny: Becoming the Person You Were Created to Be’. I didn’t know a thing about Christianity, so his references to God and Jesus went straight over my head. The rest of what he was saying I related to however. I loved the title, I loved the word ‘destiny’, and so I bought the book. I couldn’t wait to read it but when it arrived the first page revealed that this was definitely a Christian book. ‘Oh well’, I thought, ‘I like the topic and the chapter headings, I’ll just keep reading’.
By the time I had finished the book I knew something had changed. I had to know more. I asked my only co-worker, and dear friend, who I knew went to Church, if I could join her. That Sunday she and I went to church together. I was impressed by the free coffee, casually dressed people, cool band, and relatable message topic. As the music began, tears started flooding. Embarrassed, I looked at her and said, ‘Gosh I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I’m crying…’ She looked back at me and said, ‘Girl, that’s the Holy Spirit’.
A few months later, on 26 December 2015, I went on a hike to my favourite spot in nature and using a printed prayer I found on the Internet, I gave my life to Christ.
My new Sunday routine became attending the 9:30am service, every week. Sometimes I went with my friend, and when she wasn’t there, I’d sit by myself. The discomfort of going alone became something I actually looked forward to. It was just God and me. About a year in, God started pushing me out of my comfort zone again. He encouraged me to get connected to other women my age through a church connect group. Out of fear, I delayed doing it for three months. I still felt like God and I was enough. I didn’t need other people. Eventually, I realized He was changing me and preparing me, not just in my spiritual life but also in my life out in the world. He wanted to expand my circle of friends, and teach me that friends in God are a necessity in my life.
This new group was training me how to talk about God with people. It was teaching me the value of having some friends who have the same faith.
Since becoming a Christian I feel like I am living life with even greater purpose and intention. The dreams that were in my heart before I knew God still remain; He is the one who placed them there in the first place. However, He’s taken them and changed the course of how I thought they would come to life in ways beyond what I ever thought was possible. I can’t always see it when I’m in the midst of the process but my mom and I joke that when God brings a dream to life, ‘He always does it better!’
God’s focus is on my character not just my goals.
He’s slowed some goals down and taken me straight into the wilderness, fine-tuning and polishing my character. Sometimes He has accelerated the process, and taken me straight into pushing past fear. Yet every time I follow His lead, it’s like a whole new set of doors open. I’ve learned that doing something God asks, always requires courage and results in character growth. Always. One of my favourite quotes sums up perfectly how my life has changed…
’If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.’
I am now a certified life coach and my coaching style is grounded in teaching people how to partner with God to live into their greatest potential. He is, after all, the ultimate goal setter, and He created us to live an extraordinary life. I work with clients on life vision, faith inspired goals, and strategies for chasing after the life God created for them. In addition to coaching, I am thrilled to have just released my first book. Long before my coaching business, I knew I had a story to tell that would help people one day. It is a true story about my mom’s journey through addiction, homelessness, faith and love. My sister and I started writing this story when our mothers situation was at it’s absolute worst. It began as a healing project for the two of us to journal about our experiences and memories of her. Years later, my mom not only survived her situation, but is now free from addiction, healthy, and thriving. We have our mom back, and God has restored double what we originally lost.
‘Now to God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we could ever ask or imagine through His power at work within us.’