Praise Him in the Hallway!
December 4, 2018
1. Thank you for joining Farfromacurse to share your testimony. Please introduce yourself to the viewers and readers and let them know who you are and why you’re joining #TestimonyTuesday :)
Hey! I’m Stephanie Woolley and I’m going to give my testimony about God placing me into my career despite qualifications. I’m also sharing the ways I learned to trust God during the detours of life.
2. Give the readers/viewers top three interesting facts about you.
a. I have watched every single episode of Golden Girls at least five times!
b. I speak four languages: English, Spanish, French, Haitian creole
c. I’ve jumped off a 35 foot cliff in Jamaica!!
3. Please describe your journey through undergrad. Did you always have a definite plan on what you wanted to do?
Yes and no lol during undergrad I absolutely knew I wanted to become an Attorney because I’ve always been concerned about social injustice. I knew I wanted to be a Prosecutor to help fight the good fight and put the bad people away. Both of my parents are immigrants from Haiti and being a second-generation citizen in America, I have viewed firsthand how people treat immigrants. I was very interested in standing up for immigrants and fighting for them, so that was my initial reason to attend Law school. I always knew I wanted to be in the area to help people who did not know where to turn.
4. How was our journey through undergrad? Which schools did you attend?
I am originally from Miami, Florida but I attended Ball State in Indiana. People always ask how I end up there but I don’t even remember applying to the school. I was fortunate to receive a full ride scholarship and all I knew was FREE. I never visited Indiana, I could not point the location of the state on a map, and I do not remember why I applied there. Nevertheless, I got in and it was free so I went. I remember driving to the campus for move in day, I started sobbing gazing at the cornfields and I remember seeing “KKK” signs on the back of cars. I immediately realized I ws no longer in Miami. When I got to campus, my parents helped me move all of my stuff but strange enough, there was a peace in my heart telling me that this is where I needed to be. The peace of God is real and I am always thankful for it because when God puts something in my life, I always receive that confirmation of peace.
Soon I graduated in four years with a degree in legal studies. That experience groomed me tremendously. I was a thousand miles away from my parents, which forced me to grow up. I had to come into faith for myself because no one was forcing me to go to church on Sunday mornings. I had to have a real reckoning on who I was, what I believed in, and what I really stood for.
5. How was your transition into law school after undergrad?
I attended law school immediately after undergrad and it was a little rough. In undergrad, it was easier to get away with reading last minute and cramming study sessions for finals but law school was not that kind of show. Therefore, adjusting to the workload was rough in the beginning. In addition, through College I found faith for myself in Law school. All I had was Jesus and the books.
6. How did you stay focused in Law school?
I was so thankful for the people I met because that was my squad!! All of us loved Jesus, we went to church, hung out, studied, prayed together, and more! They were integral to my success. At one point, it was scary when 110 people were kicked-out the first semester for not meeting the grade requirements. This ignited a little bit of fear but I added a little faith, and mixed together summed up my experience on how I made it through.
7. So what was next after law school?
Strange thing is you have to get your masters after you receive your Law doctorate. Therefore, I received my Masters of Law at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I say, it’s a “special certificate” for completing another year of school. However, in between this time I found out I failed the BAR. I was so shook because it was the first time I failed anything.
8. Wow, well congrats on graduating with the second law degree but how was the BAR exam experience?
So I graduated in May, took the BAR exam in July, and then receive my results in October (It was a super long wait). So, while being in the middle of going to the “fancy” law school at Emory, living my best life, excelling in school, and applying for jobs, I get the unfortunate news of failing the BAR. The BAR exam is public so everyone can see if you didn’t make it. It was sad to experience that. I remember receiving numerous encouraging texts because people noticed my name wasn’t on the passing list. I believe some were probably scared to call being unaware of my possible reaction. However, I was actually fine. I was highly disappointed to have to study for it again but I actually didn’t cry at all. I knew it was not the end of the world and I pushed the disappointment to the side so I could keep moving towards my goals.
9. I love your outlook on life through that disappointment. What made you so calm during this time?
At the time, I was reading the book “Detours” by Tony Evans. In summary, the book is about dealing with life’s disruptions. He highlights on the Biblical story of Joseph. I actually read the book prior to BAR prep and it prepared my mind and heart to be okay with whatever detour God might place me. In hindsight, I am still not sure why I did not pass but then again I understand why because it gave me the opportunity to talk to others who did not pass and help encourage them. I’m so in love with the book and I feel like it’s really changed my perspective, so I’ve been giving this book out to people like its candy because I know they’ll be alright after reading it. This book helped me realize that no one’s life is perfect and everyone will be interrupted at least once.
10. How did this affect your prayer life?
I had to believe there was going to be fruit in this detour. I had to trust God in it so that I could get out of it a little quicker. It took work. Weeks turned into months and I asked God why it had to happen. I remember being honest with God and pouring my heart out to him about the results and trying to figure out why I was sitting in the spot of consistent no’s and failures. I believed God started revealing things to me, he showed me the reason why after I started journaling very open and honestly. He showed me that he had me in this position because I was not ready and I still was not ready. I know God was telling me to trust him.
11. Was it hard to trust God in the unknown?
It was truly hard because I usually always have everything put together. I plan everything in my life 6 months to a year in advance. Instead of relying on his plan and waiting still as instructed, I started applying to jobs out of fear for the future. I did this instead of trusting that God got me through other situations and he would not leave or forsake me. I had to learn that everything I wanted and needed would come into fruition in his perfect will and timing. Looking back, I would have just trusted God and believed in his promises of providing for me abundantly. I would have continued to praise him in the hallway until he opened my doors for me.
12. How did you learn to trust God and face the situation?
It was interesting, I had to learn the hard way because he kept slamming doors in my face lol I had nothing left but to trust him in that season. I was playing one on one hard ball with God. I clearly remember the days I would be in my room talking to my boyfriend, who is also a strong believer, and he would constantly pray with me and for me. There was a time I was on the phone sobbing and I was complaining to him saying, “I have two law degrees and I’m applying for hourly positions and getting rejected. What’s wrong with me?” He swiftly replied, “It’s not what you’re not doing, it’s about what you’re not letting God do!” Looking back, if I would have trusted God to do what he said he would do, I would not have had the audacity to apply to those jobs
13. Okay, so here you are looking for jobs after receiving your second law degree while facing many denial letters. How did you manage to obtain your current job?
Initially the North Carolina Democratic Party hired me as a paid part-time fellowship intern. While I was in Atlanta, the Lord opened doors for me to be in politics, which I never asked to happen. I remember walking into a State Legislator’s office to ask questions about public policy and she randomly asked if I was interested in working there. That moment led me on the path to politics. Overall, I enjoyed what I was doing and I wanted to stay but it did not work out due to the State’s budget. I was in need of something to do this summer so I applied for the fellowship in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was excited to move because I didn’t really like Atlanta. However, I am grateful for this city because I discovered the path to my destiny.
14. How did your interview go for the fellowship?
During the interview, I candidly stated my position. I said, “I just graduated and I am really interested in possible full time positions.” I told him I was tired of taking positions that led to dead ends. He told me they hired many people depending on their work. He proceeded to tell me that all of the interns received an evaluation at the end of the summer. He did not make any promises; he just stated the company’s policies. While I was on my way home, I got an email with an offer to the fellowship. At the time, while assessing the situation, I saw a part time opportunity that would cost me more to move to NC than the pay they offered me, and there was no guarantee of full-time employment. This did not seem like a good decision at all.
15. Did you tell anyone about this new job (internship) opportunity?
Yes, and I feel like God was telling me, people mean well but sometimes their thoughts are not coming from me. In the book of Joshua, the spies that came back with the negative report meant well. Their intention was to save lives but due to their lack of faith, it caused the Israelites to wander in the dessert longer. For my situation, my friends and myself didn’t mean any harm for my own life. I felt we were approaching the situation from a strategic standpoint. Some people said I needed to be “cautious”, not be “foolish” with my money, and be a “good steward”. I was listening to everyone and considered his or her thoughts.
I know that they were coming from a good place but it was not coming from faith. If I‘d listened to them, I would still be wandering in the desert. We do this to ourselves all of the time and make excuses for ourselves by saying, “my ducks aren’t in a row”. Although this sounds good, at the end of the day, you are only being stagnant and not stepping out due to a lack of faith. Therefore, I called my mom and she said, “If this is what God has for you it will always come to fruition. Take the fellowship because you can always deny acceptance if things do not go right. Take it, pray about it, see what happens, and watch how God leads you.” Overall, everything started lining up. Surprisingly, I found out my cousin had a house in the same area she did not use. This allowed me to live somewhere rent-free! So much more happened but things shook into place without me lifting a finger.
16. What did you learn through these various transitions?
I have learned to praise God in the hallway even though I got a rejection letter to every job I applied and I received a no in every direction. I learned to stay faithful and not give up or be hurt. I chose to believe his plans were greater than mine were and believe in his promises. I started to call God out on his promises for my reassurance; otherwise, I would have lost it all together. I thought I was at rock bottom but I realized I hit the center of the earth. I had nothing else to give but obedience. I remember seeing a quote that said, “I wish people knew what was on the other side of obedience.” Sometimes you are waiting for a blessing that only obedience can bring. Those were my learning moments.
17. Did you ever get the full time position?
After two weeks of working there, my boss and I had a great conversation. He ended up asking, “What do you want to do? Why are you here?” I told him, “I am a child of immigrant parents who found a new passion for politics. I would love to work with people and help them turn out the votes.” He interrupted me and asked, “What would you like to do in the company?” Then I said, “I want to work with HBCU students. Most African American students do not vote and it is completely unacceptable! I want to work with black political action committees because they have the money! We need to get students connected to the right people and we need to be a resource for them.” I rambled about the things I wanted to do in the future. I remember saying, “I want to do things with women of color because we’ve been the backbone of this party since 1965 and we haven’t received our flowers yet. Women of color need their flowers while they are still alive!” Moreover, he was like, “oooookay.” He allowed me to have my soapbox and relish moment.
Two weeks later, the executive director called me to her office and said, “Hey, I don’t know much about you. Tell me about yourself.” I figured she was trying to get to know the current interns so I told her who I was. Then she said, “Wow that is great! Well many people are impressed with you in this office and we are hiring for a new Minority Affairs Director.” I was shocked because I never met the current director for that position and she told me, they did not currently have that position because they just created it! I was super excited as she proceeded to hand me the document of the job description and it was verbatim what I told my boss two weeks prior! At this point, I was fighting back tears trying not to shout or cry. A week and a half later, she told me that she was talking to the state chair and he was obsessed with my work ethic and he thought I was fabulous, she followed up with, “…and we want to hire you!” The salary was exactly what I wanted and I got health benefits. I am literally doing the dream job I never believed I would do until I was older and paid my dues. This job was literally tailor-made and created just for me. The Lord showed up and showed out despite my disbelieving heart at times with the little faith to sustain me.
18. Were there any anchor scriptures you held unto at this time?
Yes, I clung unto three scriptures in rotation depending on the day.
· Ephesians 3:14-21 always gives me a shout in my spirit. The God I serve can do exceedingly and abundantly all I can ask or think even when I do not think I see him moving. That pushed me when I doubted.
· I held unto Hebrews 11 like an old rugged cross. I love how the Bible went through all of the heroes of faith. The chapter goes in detail saying, “this shouldn’t have happened but it did”. It spoke to me because I felt like I was praying to God for something impossible. Reading repeatedly the story of Sarah having a baby at 90, Daniel remaining alive in a lion’s den, Moses fleeing Egypt and taking his people, and more! I am sure if someone told these people how God would deliver them they would have laughed and said it was impossible. Nevertheless, all of it was possible because of God. I just clung unto that with every fiber I had.
· 1 Thessalonians says don’t grieve like those who have no hope. I understand Paul was specifically talking about dying but I also understood this, grievance can happen when you don’t get what you want, have failed, disappointed, etc. This chapter reminded me not to be bogged down by the process. At the time, I also had other friends looking for jobs. They did not have the best attitude at the time either. There were times I would sit in a pity party with them and I know the holy spirit was telling me, “no you can’t grieve like them. You weren’t called to sit in a pity party like them. Don’t fall in the temptation to grieve like those with lost hope because you have hope! You need to be the example of, “… it doesn’t look good right now….BUT GOD!”
19. How do you specifically attribute the testimony to God coming through for you?
God was faithful when I was not. It’s the testament of His true grace and mercy. Even on days I might have been too angry to pray, or too upset to go to God in prayer before I ran to everyone else, his character of being good, faithful, and sovereign did not change despite my ever-fluctuating heart.
20. What advice would you give to someone going through something similar?
A mentor once said, “God has given you specific gifts and talents, make sure you’re able to use those gifts at the next”. At that moment, I constantly prayed for jobs that would allow me to use the gift and talents I have been given. Have faith as if t you were in the position! Life is harder and non-enjoyable if we don’t utilize our gifts and skills. For example, I can’t count past ten, so I could never have a job in accounting. I encourage everyone to make it your daily prayer and be very cognizant of this. Also, do not get sidetracked by everyone else’s life. That is one of the harms of social media. You are bombarded with everyone living his or her “best life” with pay increases, promotions, cool perks, and you might feel stagnant. You might be looking at people who don’t love the Lord as much as you do, but they are receiving “endless” blessings and glowing up in life. That can be a very hard pill to swallow. However, pray, fast, stay in the word, and believe the rough season will not be in vein. Sometimes God has to do some real pruning before we can hit our glow up. I always say, the last place I want to be is outside the will of God. I encourage everyone to ask God to keep him or her in his will even when trying to open doors God did not design.
21. Your testimony reminds me to remain persistent in prayer when life feels inconsistent. It seems like you prayed a lot and I love how you mentioned God remaining faithful when you were unfaithful. Sometimes people hear testimonies and think someone’s faith is at a “ten” daily. That may be the case for some but it is not for all. So where are you now?
I am in a place where I am, “figuring out who God is”. He has been my provider by constantly bringing his promises into fruition. I never want to get in a place where I feel comfortable to put my bible away and forget him. This is hard to say but tragedy and difficulties spurs us to prayer. It is super easy to forget our quiet time when life is grand. However, tough circumstances causes us not to skip prayer because things are already bad enough. It is easier to worship God out of a hard place. Nevertheless, I am currently transitioning out of the valley and I am going to strive to worship God in the “good” place after arriving to my promised land. I want to love, serve, show justice, and be diligent in the good times. We are all one phone call away from hearing bad news and getting back on our knees in prostrate prayer. I never want to forget who God is.
We were unable to film a video due to our distance and busy schedules so thank you so much for reading! Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being featured on the next #TestimonyTuesday! Check out past recorded testimonies on Youtube!
Until next time...