I’m Heidi Evje, wife to Eric, the godliest man I know who happens to pastor a church, mommy to Hannah Grace and Hudson James, my greatest joys and gifts and we live in the great state of Texas where God’s calling took us 7 years ago. I’m a typical high extrovert and rarely meet a stranger type of gal. I’m going to find something we have in common and build a connection. I genuinely love people & getting to know them at a deeper level. I realize not everyone is wired this way, however, I do see time and time again we as humans (made in God’s image) have more in common than not.
One thing I do not shy away from is telling my story. The story that God has given me. Has my story been easy or a blissful road? No, but it’s been HIGHER and better than my plans. Isaiah 55:8-9, states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
His ways include a near death encounter at the age of 22 years old two months before marrying Eric that profoundly changed my ways or thoughts of the expectation of having children, being newly married surviving Hurricane Katrina, obeying God’s call to move 22 hours from my family to love and serve a wonderful church and trusting God in every step of the adoption process and parenting. There is purpose in this brief synopsis of my story.
Why do I mention this? Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of people whether it was moving to a new community, meeting people on the airplane (I used to travel for my job), meeting people in my work life whether fellow employees or clients, striking up conversations at the grocery store, getting to know my neighbors, and pretty much whenever there’s an opportunity. My experience is that these conversations will naturally lead to my story and your story. The way I see it is having the opportunity to share God’s grace and faithfulness in my life. I’d like to think that overall I’m an intentional person. I do ask God for opportunities. If I’m honest I don’t always think that every time I meet a new person of how this conversation can turn into a spiritual conversation. There are times that I’m in the middle of telling my story I ask God to give me the words and give me wisdom to share what I should. Also, to be quiet, ask questions and listen to get to know my “new friend.” You see this story…my story is not about me, it’s God’s story.
When meeting new people, I find their walls come down and people will engage by me being vulnerable in sharing my story and struggles. A key to connecting is genuinely listening and asking the other person questions to see where they are in life. I truly believe we make connecting with others harder than it really is. We have to get beyond our to-do lists and the expectation that striking up a conversation is going to be awkward. As I think of the Jesus’ ministry he was intentional and sought people out. He didn’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Jesus loved people well right where they were.
As I think back over the years and conversations I have had. There are many that stick out. I think of my neighbor who moved to the US from France many years ago, a single mom raising two girls and teaching French at the big university in town. God has given me many spiritual conversations with her. I’ll never forget the day her ex-husband was dropping the girls off at her house as she and I were in conversation. He joined the conversation and the conversation naturally went to why we live in Texas and my story. I watched as tears ran down both of their faces as I told my story and God’s amazing faithfulness to us.
I also think of the college student I met on the airplane going back to my home town where I was going for work and he was going home to visit his parents. He lived in the college town where we lived. We talked entire way on the plane about things we missed about our home town. That was it and we went on our way. When I flew back home of that trip as I was getting off of the plane that same college student tapped me on the back and we “happened” to be on the same flight back. I gave him my number and said my husband and I would love to have him over for a home cooked meal. That turned into that college student coming to our house almost every other Sunday night which led to a great friendship and many spiritual conversations at our house. He still reaches out frequently to see how his College Station family is doing.
Many of you maybe in ministry professions or actively involved in your church. I think of the many college girls I have spoken to who are struggling. I share my story of a tough season of anxiety. It is shocking to me how many of them can relate. They may be right in the middle of that tough season and I get to share the beauty on the other side of what God has taught me and how I work through those times with His strength.
Not only can your story and spiritual conversations point people to the author and perfecter—Jesus—but it can encourage the saints. As the hymn states, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.” You may not be an extrovert or have had a near death experience; however, God has given you a story to tell so go ahead and say it!