What If? A Testimony by Jamie Hicks

Jamie Hicks shared her testimony at our July 17 service. Here is what she shared:

In order to share my what if story, I have to tell you a little about my past. It isn’t easy to tell and it won’t be easy to hear. But it is a path God chose when he knit me in my mother’s womb. In her 10th grade, unwed womb.

Psalm 139:13 - For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Have you ever wondered why you are here?

I have many times.  As a child growing up in a home with alcohol and drug abuse, as well as mental illness, I often wondered why God gave me the parents he did. I wondered why we didn’t have more. I wondered why it seemed like nobody cared.  My Mom and Dad divorced when I was four and my earliest memory was of domestic violence.  My story should have involved DHS but the 80s were much different than today.  My 2 sisters and I were raised by my bipolar alcoholic mom and heroine addict step father.  

Our house was volatile and uncertain.  We were often hungry and left alone while our parents went on long trucking trips.  I cared for my sisters and was frequently told that I was a mistake. We were expected to do chores perfectly and behave perfectly.  Needless to say, I was grounded all the time.  No child is perfect, least of all me. Because of our home life, I was picked on mercilessly at school.  Bullying was an every day occurrence for me.  I was poor, had divorced parents, and was super smart.  That should have been a blessing but as a child was just one more thing that set me apart from my classmates.  I just wanted to be normal.  What if this wasn’t my real family? What if God made a mistake and this wasn’t my life?  Maybe some nice people were missing me and would come for me.

Psalm 4:1 - Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

I prayed many times that God show me who my real parents were or that he would rescue me somehow from my situation.  You might ask how I knew to talk to  God? How did we meet?  Every other weekend my sisters and I  went to our Dads house and experienced love and acceptance from our grandparents, aunts and uncles and father. I was baptized in the Methodist church as an infant and our Dad drove us to Sunday school every other week, without fail. He often woke us up to the Styx Hallelujah Chorus.  

I met Jesus in a little church Sunday school class and began a lifelong conversation with him in about 2nd grade. Interestingly, on opposite weekends, our mom made us walk the ½ block to the Presbyterian church and go to church and Sunday school there too.  Those churches were filled with Christian people who were kind, encouraging and shared the Word with me and my sisters.  My school was also filled with encouraging, kind adults who showed me love and acceptance. Perhaps God heard my prayers after all, even if I didn’t think so at the time. My parents were the ones God chose for me.  But he was my first Father.

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew, He also predestined.

What if my hurt and pain were meant to be used for good? Had he blessed me with intelligence so that I could share what I learned with others? I have been blessed with a gift for learning.  I have always loved to read and have an amazing memory.  This is useful when playing trivia games and also in science and math.  I was my class Valedictorian in spite of many obstacles.  I was given tuition scholarship to community college and most of the way through my master’s degree. 

But my grandma Iva has always been quick to tell us, to those who have been given much, much is expected.  What could I do with this gift? My teachers reminded me that my grades were a way to do more.  To accomplish great things and make a difference in the world.  My high school science teacher and music teachers in particular, inspired me to use my gifts to help others.  Mr Brasser didn’t win the state science teacher award for nothing.  He told me to apply at the nursing home at the age of 15.  I loved my first job as a CNA.  The residents were so thankful and so loving. They listened and encouraged me.  The owners of the nursing home encouraged me and the nurses there urged me to take my gift of caring for others to a higher level.  I am still friends with some of them today. I loved helping other people.

Have you ever questioned God’s plan for you? What was my destiny? Unlike many young people today,  I felt my calling early on.  I knew that I was meant to care for others.  I loved nursing school and had my first job as an LPN charge nurse in a nursing home at age 19.  I was on a path towards my dream. I was an adult no longer living at home and knew that God wanted good things for me. I graduated with my master’s degree at age 23 and got my first job as a family nurse practitioner. Was this journey easy? Definitely not.  Did I think I was in control of it? Mostly yes.

My Dad dying suddenly in a work accident when I was 20 showed me that control is an illusion. My infertility and miscarriages after marrying the man of my dreams told me again that I was not in control.  My job being eliminated while on maternity leave showed me again that maybe I was not in charge of my journey. Was I listening? What was God trying to teach me? My first 25 years of life had been filled with loss and sadness.  What opportunities were waiting?

Nothing widens our options like the promises of God.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.

This says it all to me.  God promises not to harm me.  He wanted me to have a future and hope.  His Son is my hope.  This is my life verse. I have been blessed with 3 wonderful children and a supportive, kind husband. I have worked in family medicine for 13 years. I have shared my story with many people in times of need and gotten to help thousands of others during sickness and health. I have served in churches in volunteer and leadership roles.

But what if God wants more?

That is a terrifying question.  At 38, I felt like my life was going really well.  My kids are healthy, my marriage is strong.  My faith is unwavering. Until-----I lost my job on a random Friday in March.  Would I praise him in the storm this time?  Had I really learned from past mistakes and experiences? How fitting that the verse following my life verse is this…

Jeremiah 29:12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.

Following my job loss, I felt helpless.  I was scared. I needed Jesus. I prayed for direction, guidance and again, hope. I prayed daily for a plan.  I am old enough to recognize that I was not in control.  I am wise enough in my faith to be silent in my journey and listen.  But waiting was so hard.  God knew I struggle with patience.  I am a planner.  I am the organized one. 

But He knows the plans for me. 

He knew that my patients would call me and text me and message me, and ask where I would be practicing next.  He knew that Pastor John would bring me this book for our summer small group to read ahead of time and that it would speak to me. He knew that my dream is to provide care for people in a way that makes them feel valued and loved, like a family member.  He knows that His dream for me is even bigger than I ever dreamt possible.  

In large part, this book and a lot of prayer have lead me to the decision to open my own family practice this September in Milford.  Am I scared, sure.  But what has God been teaching me in this storm?  Be bold, reflect light into the world.  That is what I want to do with my life. This is what he has called me to do.  My profession allows me to shine light into lives each and every day.  Helping others in family practice is not just about sore throats or high blood pressure. It allows me to witness to others the power that is found in Christ. 

Our journey is not a destination. 

Mark Batterson says our destiny has far less to do with what we do than it does with who we become. My destiny isn’t just to be a mother, wife, or nurse practitioner.  My destiny is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Destiny is not another accomplishment, it’s a reflection.  May God help me to reflect his best each and every day to those around me. His love, his power, his patience, his joy.

My prayer for you is the same. Perhaps our circumstances aren’t supposed to change, perhaps they are the very thing God will use to change us.  What circumstance is keeping you from your What If?  Don’t let it stop you from reaching your God sized dream! Because really, if God is for us, who can be against us?