When I was a young girl, my parents had my older siblings in piano lessons. I, on the other hand, was enrolled in baton lessons. (Like I’d be able to use THAT ability in the future.)
I desperately wanted to take piano as well. My long fingers would’ve been very adept at tickling the ivories. I have no idea why I wasn’t allowed to, but, come to think of it, there were already three who had to have their practice time on the old upright every day. No doubt, my parents were happy to not have to listen to it for another half hour!
I was actually pretty good at baton. My fingers could easily twirl it through them. I became quite proficient at manipulating it to do what it was supposed to. This included tossing it high in the air, spinning around, and gracefully catching it while walking. Of course, the living room, where I typically practiced the twirling parts, became devoid of anything breakable during the early lessons.
I quickly advanced from a “starter’s baton” to one that was more professional and well-balanced. As with most childhood activities, one day the baton was put away. But, for some reason, I kept it.
Funny how we don’t think that God can possibly use any of our childhood experiences.
A few months ago, I could strongly sense God calling me out of my position as Executive Director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center. Being the leader of any ministry is not an easy one, and the “lifespan” of a director typically doesn’t last more than a few years. I remember someone asking me when I first started, “And how long are you going to be here?”
My response was, “I will try to be here as long as God asks me to.” Eleven years later, I’ve shared my story with thousands of high school students, and led hundreds of people through “programs”, holding their hand as they walked through emotional pain. And of course, it being a Crisis Pregnancy Center, many babies have been born. But, I knew in my heart that He wanted to open another door, and that He could not do that until this one closed.
Within a short time, a new Executive Director was chosen. I knew that I needed to pass the “mantel of leadership” to her and I pondered and prayed about what that would look like. Suddenly, my old baton, which was packed away somewhere in my basement, came to mind.
Tears sprung in my eyes. Many of my painful experiences happened when I was a child. The only reason I was able to share my story with students and help others was because I had chosen to walk through my own pain.
God has used it all. Everything.
And He used my experience with the baton to show me how to take my pain and “twirl, manipulate, toss it high in the air, and gracefully catch it.” My childhood experiences were no longer manipulating and controlling me. I had come to a place of acceptance. I had learned to respond to the pain, instead of react. I was no longer breaking things…
I can’t pass on my childhood experiences to the new Director. But I CAN pass on the baton of leadership. And I pray that God will use her to bring the Center to the next level and be “well-balanced.”
We chose to have a ceremony at this year’s fundraising banquet to “pass the baton.” My plan was to use it as a symbol at the ceremony, and then keep it.
Once again, God gently spoke to my heart. “When someone passes on a baton of leadership, do they then keep the baton?” He was asking me to totally give it to her. I was not to keep it or hold onto it.
I was planning on staying on as a volunteer, but I’m choosing to spread my wings and go out on my own. I pray that God continues to use me to help people recognize and move through their emotional pain. And I pray that I’m able to accept the new baton that He is giving me. Hopefully, I move through the early lessons quickly.