I am so excited to introduce you to Kristy Mikel, a woman who has shaped my walk with Jesus in more ways than I can even recount. Over the years, Kristy has gone from my mentor to my friend, to my sister, and now to my coauthor as we write a book together. You’ll read her words on my blog over the coming months, but for today, I simply long for you to hear a bit of her story and her passion for empowering women around the world.
Believe it or not, even though you can’t see my face and I can’t see yours, I’m completely intimidated by this moment.
It’s something the Lord has been teaching me, a word He’s been trying to redeem in my life. It’s one of those words I hear and almost immediately cringe a little bit inside. It’s uncomfortable. It’s revealing. Whew! It’s a lot of things. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So, I’m Kristy. I’m a daughter, a sister, a missionary, and I happen to live in Thailand. It’s not like I accidentally hopped on a plane and found myself in southeast Asia, but this certainly isn’t the direction I saw my life going.
I grew up in small town Midwest America. More north than west, but that’s beside the point. My Indiana home was the place I spent the first 18 years of my life before I got my first taste of life overseas. I hadn’t even been on an airplane prior to this trip, so it was a moment of tackling two giants in my life! My first overseas experience found me 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains of Peru, a very long way from all things familiar.
As a kid, I was your average midwest girl. Two things I learned to love growing up in Indiana were the Colts and basketball. Countless nights were spent in front of the television with my family cheering on the Hoosiers or Colts. I didn’t know much about the players and am not sure I can recount a single name, but what was most precious to me was the love of something I shared with my dad. That said, basketball quickly became my sport. I joined my high school’s team, and the more I played, the more I loved it. Fast breaks, stealing the ball, being on a team–it was all a lot of fun to me. Until one day it wasn’t anymore.
I can be a competitive person for sure, but along the way, the competitive, cut-throat nature of the sport began to wear on me. I had always played because I loved the game, but suddenly, it was as if the fun of playing vanished. So I decided to walk away, and it was then that I realized just how much of my identity had been wrapped up in basketball.
Here comes that vulnerability again.
If I’m being really honest, a big part of why I loved to play was because my dad loved the game, and he loved that I played the game. It was this shared thing we had. I knew it made him proud that I loved something he loved. So when I decided to quit, I was certain I had let him down.
Shortly after quitting, I overhead part of a conversation between my dad and one of his buddies about my decision to quit.
“She could’ve been great,” he told his friend.
Looking back, I hear a compliment. My dad truly thought I was a good player and that I could’ve been a great one if I had continued to play. But in the moment, I heard, “She’s not good enough.” It became a lie that rooted itself into every part of my life as I struggled toward perfection and pleasing others.
The lies of the enemy are hard to uproot, especially when you’ve believed them for long enough. There comes a moment when the lie starts to sound like truth.
You’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough.
All of my value wrapped around one little phrase that the enemy twisted in my mind to be something it wasn’t.
This was the place the Lord found me when I was 12,000 feet up in the Andes Mountains, stripped of everything that was familiar and safe. I was in a country I didn’t know, around a language I didn’t speak, with a team I was still getting to know, wondering what I had to offer to this small group of people in a remote village.
I felt every insecurity creeping up inside me as we dove into VBS, worship, and personal testimonies. I had a lot of “fake it ’til you make it” moments on that trip—pretending to be confident, all while battling my deep insecurities.
On one of the last nights of the trip, the local pastor’s wife laid her hands on me and began fervently praying. This was a first for me. People had prayed for me before, sure, but not like this! She pressed one hand firmly against my forehead and gripped my shoulder with the other.
I couldn’t understand much of what she said until she leaned in close to my ear and whispered, “You’re a daughter of the King, and when you fall, you’ll come back up stronger.”
All this she prayed as the weight of her hands began to throw me off balance. So I did the thing every freaked out teenager would do in that moment. I bent my knees a little and planted my feet firmly into the ground.
Ain’t no way she’s pushing me over.
I’d never seen and certainly never experienced this, so my insecurities were on overdrive as I fought against the physical pressure I felt on my body.
Nope, nope, nope. I’m not budging
It was an experience that has stuck with me all these years. Something began to break away in me that night. I walked away from the trip thinking about that moment over and over, asking myself, “Kristy, what are you so afraid of?”
Although I didn’t realize at the time, this moment opened the door to strip away the lie I had believed for so long–this lie that I wasn’t good enough, this lie that had me so concerned with how others saw me. This experience would shape my journey moving forward and bring me to the place I find myself now—desperate for women to know their worth, to understand their incredible value.
Desperate for them to experience the same freedom I have experienced in believing the truths of the Father.
But the rest of that story is for another time.