Faith, Miracles, Yoga, and Success

(Prologue:  A lot of times, people apologize for the length of a post.  I am not going to apologize for this one.  I hope you’ll read it, every word, and come on the journey with me.  This was a sacred experience in my life.  I would love it if you’d share it.)  

As Yoga for Congo Women approached, I almost dreaded talking to people.  Inevitably, the question would come up: “So, how many people have you got signed up?”

I hated to answer.  I hated having to make excuses or find reasons why more people hadn’t signed up yet.

Each night I would sleep less.  I don’t think anyone can comprehend the pain and stress of pouring your entire soul into something and having very few people care, unless they have done it themselves.

I am a fervent believer in Divine guidance and help.  I truly, deeply believe in miracles.  I believe with all my soul that faith can literally move mountains.  This experience was one of the most faith-developing experiences of my life.  I went from pain and doubt to absolute, concrete certainty that if it was His will that droves of people turn out, it would, indeed, happen.

I sent out, gave out, and posted hundreds of fliers.  I sent releases to every news station.  Twice.  I posted on every events page, forum, social network, and blog.  But as the event drew nearer, and I put so much effort, money, and time into trying to spread the word and publicize it and persuade (then beg) people to come, I would go to bed full of faith that it could still be successful, but sad.  Sad that perhaps it wasn’t His will that this event be a huge success.  Sad because I was feeling that so few people cared. 

I believe in a God of miracles.  But I also believe in a Father Who is so very loving, that He would never force His children to do anything, even if other children were hurting.

I felt I was failing.  I was failing the women in the DRC who I loved and ached for.  I was failing my sponsors who had supported me in good faith.  I was failing myself.  Most terribly, I was failing my family, who had sacrificed so much and for so long.

I cried at night and told Matt my fear, my terrible fear of failure.  My fear that I would arrive on the day of the event with only three supporters.  After a year of preparation, the thought made my heart almost literally break.

Matt, ever so kindly, told me that perhaps I needed a different definition of success.

In my heart of hearts, I knew he was right, but come on!  How could success possibly mean that I didn’t raise enough money to sponsor even one woman?  Success meant numbers, right?  If I was going to make my family go through so much, I felt that HUGE results were the only thing that could possibly make it worth it.

And so I worked even harder, till I was literally exhausted in every way.  I knew that I had done everything I possibly could.  I had enough faith to know that, however it worked out, it would be alright.  That was all I could hold on to.  (That, and Matt.) :)

At last, it was the night before the event.  It was a strangely happy and peaceful night, filled with the quiet bustle of preparation.  Loved ones were here, and that love bolstered me up.  My sweet baby took her first bites that night, and that sweet triumph and joy calmed what nerves there were left that night.  My heart was oddly calm, and by bedtime, we were ready.

As I listened to the sleeping house that night, lying in Matt’s arms, my mind again began to race.  What if no one came?  What if my sponsors hated me?  What if I really stink at teaching yoga and just didn’t know it?  What if the sky fell in?  What IF?

I closed my eyes and prayed for help to have faith.  A previous post from a month ago came to my mind.  I remembered that sweet day.  It was a day when I finally felt and knew for sure who I was really meant to be.  I had been in a room full of women who were hurting.  I had something to offer, and I gave it lovingly, freely, compassionately.  That’s who I was.  I knew it.  So it didn’t matter if no one cared or came.  I could not fail, because I had given all of my heart to healing, and so had my family.

But what would success look like?  Would it look like I had hoped?

Finally, the dawn broke and it was time.

Finally.

I got ready quietly.  My husband, mom, and I drove in the rain.  It was peaceful.  Yes, I was nervous.  But it was finally time.

From the moment we arrived, it just clicked.  I felt like angels were there.

Angels often appear as people, you know.  My mom so quietly and efficiently ran the check-in table, lifted my worries, and listened.  My husband was cheerful and oh, so loving as he quickly rearranged the room to perfection.  My friend was there to lift our hearts with his cheerful manner and his terrific sound system.

As I set up pictures of women that I loved, my heart settled in.  I was at peace.  It was for them.  It was worth it.

It was perfect.

People started to come in, and I finally met women I have loved and admired for a long time.  Having them there meant the world to me.  They’ll never know the peace they brought.

It was amazing.  Each person that trickled in, each new face showed it: they felt it, they got it, they were showing up for these women.

There was not one person there, not one, who wasn’t there to do some good, whether for me or for the Congo.  You could just feel it.  Not one person came with a selfish heart.  That was amazing. 

Finally, it was time, and I couldn’t contain my emotions.  It had just been such a long process.  So much hope, anguish and heart-felt emotions.  It all started to come out.  But no one seemed annoyed.

As the yoga began, it was amazing.  For one minute, I was nervous again, nervous of what people would think, nervous at having less people than I had originally hoped.  But then the light streamed in from overhead, and as it hit me, it melted away.  It didn’t matter any more.

The feeling in that room was incredible.  I’ve never felt anything quite like it.  I’ve known the healing power of yoga for a long time.  I’ve known the healing power of love for even longer.  Combining the two on behalf of others was…indescribable.  Perfect beauty.

Every time I looked out at those who came, my eyes filled with tears for the love in the room.  It was miraculous.  Several had come many, many miles.  Oh, how I love them.  :)

Finally, at one point in the presentation, as we were resting with eye pillows over our eyes, it all came to me.

Finally.

I realized with perfect peace in that moment that it was perfect.  Right there, just like it was.  No, there weren’t a hundred people there.  But it finally wasn’t the quantity that mattered any more.  It was the quality.  The people who were there were capable of so much love.  So much goodness.  So much selflessness.  To have people there who loved less would have lessened the feeling.  It wouldn’t have been the same. 

It was a miracle.  It was one of the greatest miracles of my life. 

It wasn’t the miracle I had expected or hoped for.

It was better.

I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling in that room, for as long as I live.

I think that many, many people who were there had a very sacred, personal experience.  Quite a few have shared those individual experiences with me.  Each have been different, and each have been very special.  I have felt honored to know your thoughts during that time.

 

After listening to many of the participants who were there, I finally felt success.  Because the miracle was this: after this event, I think almost everyone who was there believed that hope and healing was possible, not only for the Congo, but for themselves, as well

Lives were changed.  Not only Congolese lives.  Our lives.

My life.

I’ll never be the same.  And I’m so very glad.

(PS – THANK you to each and every one of you who loved me, listened to me, and helped me.  Those who donated and showed up…no words.  Thank you.  And by the way, we did have a great turnout.) :)

(PPS – There are a few AMAZING pictures in this post…they were taken by this gal…WOW.  She’s incredible.)

13 Responses

  1. c h a n t i l e

    It was such an incredible experience! I'm so glad I was able to be there!!I'm so proud of you and everything you do!(Also, I bawled through the entire post. Thank you for sharing!)

    September 25, 2010 at 2:53 am

  2. Rebecca

    I've been waiting to hear how things went! I'm so glad that you were able to feel good about your efforts. You did an amazing thing and I admire you!

    September 25, 2010 at 3:04 am

  3. www.theevolvinghomemaker.com

    Ahh…so many things I could say…from my own experience with ALL of those emotions. It is a confusing journey, and no one will feel it exactly the way you do. I thought it was fabulous and felt SO lucky to be there led in beautiful yoga by a woman I am so inspired by!;)Jen

    September 25, 2010 at 4:44 am

  4. Jessie Mae

    I'm so glad things went well! I wish I could have come! I thought of you all day. Btw I believe my little one with be quite a yoga girl. Every time I try and do some she joins in and is always sitting Indian style :)I love you so much, and I am so proud of you. You are such an amazing example of the power God gives each of us! Guess I need to find mine and put it to good use! :)

    September 25, 2010 at 5:21 am

  5. Libby Ipson

    I'm so glad things went well! What an amazing post!

    September 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  6. Kaui

    Thank you. I thought of you the entire day. I'm inspired.

    September 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm

  7. Liesel

    It was a very special time. The people mattered, not the numbers. We all walked away feeling uplifted and hoping we had helped. It is a wonderful experience to dedicate a yoga session to someone else. I thought that it was one of the most professionally run fundraisers! They are always hard and believe me I've had some that didn't go half so well…It is hard to allow yourself the vulnerability to put a big piece of yourself out there. But, it is the doing it that is important, not the results. (Although good results are fun too.)Thanks Ann it was very special.

    September 26, 2010 at 2:44 am

  8. Liz

    That was such an inspirational post and I did tear up a little as well :). It makes me want to do something! So bad! :) I'm still planning a DVD Yoga party when I get your DVD and gathering donations :)I love you so much, Ann, and you have given me so much in your posts, probably more than you know.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:18 am

  9. Nicole

    thank you ann.. i am so happy to hear of this incredible experience that i couldn't physically attend myself.

    September 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

  10. matthewgrichmond.com

    I second all the comments, it was truly an amazing experience!Congratulations baby :)

    September 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

  11. Debra Domenici

    I am glad things went well. I wish I could have been there.

    October 1, 2010 at 5:23 am

  12. Pingback: » Overcoming Little Women and a Mom

  13. Pingback: » Fall Little Women and a Mom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *