Never in a million years did I think I’d get to add the words “yelled at by an airport gate agent” to my life experience list, but that’s where I found myself last month while heading to our Oklahoma City She Found Joy event.
Have you ever felt personally violated because of someone’s harsh words to you? You tried to be kind and you didn’t raise your voice, but they kept yelling at you? Yep, that’s how I was feeling when I sat down in my seat. I was hurt. I was fuming. And so, while I usually see airplanes as mission fields, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to put my headphones in and turn on some worship music to block all of the noise away.
And then she started talking to me. The woman in the seat to my right. Turns out she was headed home after visiting her last living daughter in Oregon. Her two other daughters had lost their lives within the last calendar year. To say it had been a hard year would be an incredible understatement.
We weren’t even five minute into the plane rides and already this sweet woman was already in tears.
Lord, you’re going to have to help me out here. Help me know what to say and how to encourage this woman. I prayed.
Seconds later she looked me point blank in the face and asked me, “Lauren, how do you find joy when life is so hard?”
I closed my eyes and my spirit jumped inside of me. The God of the universe had totally set me up! There I was, the president of a nonprofit called She Found Joy, and of all seats, He sat me next to this woman. This woman who so desperately needed to find joy (don’t we all). And so, though I was physically and mentally exhausted, I spent the rest of the plane ride encouraging and praying with this dear new sister and friend of mine. Before we exited the plane, I invited her to our Oklahoma City event that would be taking place the following evening.
Now, I invite hundreds of the random strangers God puts in my path to our events. However, rarely do these people actually show up. But something felt different about this dear woman. When I woke up the next morning, she immediately came to mind. I took that as a prompting from the Holy Spirit to pray, and I asked that nothing would keep her from coming to She Found Joy. Sure enough, later that night, she walked inside the doors of the CHK|Central Boathouse where we were hosting the event. But she didn’t just come alone — she brought a friend!
Friends, I’m telling you … I will never, I repeat never, forget this woman, her friend or the look in her eyes that night. You see, when you’re in this type of ministry, you don’t always get to see the fruit from the work you’re doing for the Kingdom. But in the matter of 24 hours, I had the blessed privilege of watching a woman turn from feeling utterly dejected and hopeless to being filled with the joy of the Lord. The sparkle in her eyes was so apparent when she left, I couldn’t contain my gratitude to God for making our paths cross.
The next day, I woke to the following message in my Inbox: “Please tell the ladies on your She Found Joy team they and you richly blessed me … God speaks through you. You’ll never know this side of Heaven of how you blessed me.” Cue all of the tears of joy.
This. This is what it’s all about. If there is one thing I know, it’s that we find joy when we give joy. And when we give joy, we change lives too.
This Christmas season, you can help us continue spreading joy to women like the one whose story I’ve told above. As an expression of our thanks for participating during this Giving Tuesday week, we are giving away some pretty amazing things when you commit to make either a one-time or recurring donation to us. Visit our Donate page for details and to give joy today.*
With love and joy,
She Found Joy President
* By donating to She Found Joy, which is a 501(c)(3), you will help thousands of women around the world lead lives full of joy, hope and freedom! Your donation will go towards the greatest need the ministry has, helping keep our programs running or contributing to specific needs as they arise.
Lauren is a national speaker, author and Bible teacher. The founder and president of She Found Joy, she is a passionate about helping others encounter Jesus in a way that refreshes their faith and fills them to overflowing with His love and joy. Lauren lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, Alex and their dog Reese.