Twelve years ago I was emerging from the shadowland of depression. It had been my first journey into this darkness (though it would not be my last), and I had traveled through it with the company of my first therapist and the aid of antidepressants. One morning I found myself standing in the middle of my sun-soaked kitchen. My two sons were at preschool, and the house was blissfully quiet. In that moment I whispered the question, “Is this as good as it gets?”
By this time, I had completed my counseling and weened off the medication, and I was doing well. Yet, on that bright morning, I was keenly aware that still something was missing. In a flash I thought of a book I had read several years earlier.
It might not seem that a mere thought can be a miracle; however, that thought led to a string of events that can only be called miraculous.
The book was entitled The Sacred Romance, by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, and when I read it in 2000, I was captured by the beauty of its language. The authors poetically presented the Gospel in a way that wooed me to the Larger Story as I had never experienced. However, after completing it, I shelved it with my other beloved books and moved on. Now, here I stood in my kitchen, suddenly thinking of it.
I knew that John Eldredge was now offering men’s retreats based on his book Wild at Heart, and a curious voice inside me wondered, “Does he offer anything for women?” I wasn’t sure, so I climbed the stairs to my study and turned on the computer. When the cursor on the screen blinked expectantly, I typed “John Eldredge,” not knowing another place to begin my search. Among the results was a link to Ransomed Heart Ministries. I clicked and found their events page: “Ransomed Femininity”…a women’s retreat. I looked at the dates and realized that it was the last day to enter the lottery for the upcoming retreat. Without pausing to think, I entered my information and pressed “submit.”
When my husband, Tim, came home from work that evening, I met him at the door with a guilty look on my face. I told him about the retreat and the lottery. Surprisingly, he responded, “If you get an invitation, you have to go.” He knew that this was an unfolding miracle long before I did, yet he had no idea of its scope. Two weeks later I received a letter inviting me to the upcoming retreat in Colorado. Perhaps I should repeat those last two words: IN COLORADO.
At that time in my life, I did very little without the Tim or the boys. They provided a protective buffer to the world; so, getting on an airplane to fly to Colorado and attend a women’s retreat felt like signing up to go to the moon. I tried to find excuses not to go. With two children and one income, finances were tight, so I emailed Ransomed Heart, asking if they had scholarships. When they replied no, then I would tell Tim it just wasn’t financially responsible to go. However, they offered to make me a contact person for the shuttle riders, which would cover my transportation and provide a retreat discount.
My effort to evade had only gotten me in deeper: now I was not only going to the retreat, but I was the point person for a group of 200 strangers. Talk about coming out of the shadows and into the spotlight! On the day of my departure, Tim took me to the Knoxville airport. Everything in me wanted to beg and plead to return home and for us to forget this retreat nonsense. Instead, I kissed him goodbye and walked through security. This was the first solo trip of my life.
I went to my gate and sat waiting for the plane to board. As I looked at my watch, I thought, “Tim is still probably in the parking garage. Maybe if I call, I can catch him.” I knew, though, that this wasn’t really an option. So I sat there, waiting. Soon two women sitting behind me began to chat about books they had read recently. Since it was book talk, I was drawn into some innocent eavesdropping. The book snob in me rolled her eyes as they doted on the latest Nicholas Sparks’ novel and John Grisham thriller.
In fact, I was about to tune them out when one woman said to the other: “I read the most interesting book at the beach last summer. Have you read The Sacred Romance?” I didn’t hear another word these two spoke; instead, I finally surrendered to the invitation before me. With fear and trembling, I would board the plane and go to the retreat.
Miracles continued to unfold throughout that weekend—from the provision of my roommate to the mentors who shepherded us through the retreat; from my desire to hear God speak to his lavish breaking of strongholds; from my fear of being seen to the courage to speak the truth of who I am. In fact, in the dozen years that have passed since that sunny kitchen morning, the miracles have continued to unfold—in my life, Tim’s life, our marriage, our parenting, and our friendships.
Little did I know when I issued my whisper of a question—“Is this as good as it gets?”—that God would respond. He not only heard me; he provided a rousing reply: “No, I have more for you than mere wellness—I have abundance.” His call to follow him was like the call of Jesus to the lame man, “Get up and walk,” and it resulted in the miracle of a reawakened heart, a renewed faith, and a restored hope.
Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
Susan Tucker spends her days mothering her two teenage sons, teaching middle school English, and savoring rare moments of quiet and solitude. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her sons and her husband of 23 years. Susan finds life in a beautiful story, an authentic conversation, worship music, and ultimately, in Jesus, the giver of all good gifts.