Laurie Polich Short feels written. During her most painful moments, she continued to trust God when her life seemed shrouded in darkness. Despite agony, heartache, confusion and disappointment, today Short would never consider a redo of her story. To her, life feels literary, as if she’s a character in a book. That happens to be the case with her latest book, “Finding Faith in the Dark” which will be among several topics Short will speak on at the IGNITE youth conference in Wildwood this fall.
Short, a youth specialties speaker and author of over 14 books for youth workers and students is a small groups pastor at Ocean Hills Covenant Church in Santa Barbara, CA. Last month, Short took to the Main Stage at the popular Christian music festival Creation, in Mt. Union, Pa. Now her sights are set on IGNITE, where she will share her compelling story and powerful lessons of faith with over 1,000 youth, grades 6-12, from Greater New Jersey and the surrounding region.
Known from her past books and speaking engagements by her maiden name, Polich, Short’s relatively recent marriage plays a pivotal and powerful role in her personal testimony.
“Sometimes I think we wait too long to share our testimonies,” Short said. “People are never looking at you more than when you’re struggling and going through a rough time.” Short had always hoped to get married and become a mom, and at age 42, she was engaged. But her plans fell apart when her fiancé and his ex-wife made amends and got back together.
“My world collapsed, and I didn’t understand why this was happening to me,” she said. “I felt like God didn’t care and had abandoned me.” Although Short played a positive role in a story of reconciliation and redemption between her former fiancé and his ex-wife, she faced the brunt of colossal heartbreak.
“I used to have it out with God. I felt like he was being mean,” Short exclaimed. “Yet all along it was as if he was telling me not to worry, to tell my story anyway, reminding me he was in charge of how people responded, and that my story wasn’t over yet.”
Through loss and disappointment, Short held on to the verses of Isaiah 50:10-11: “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment.”
Instead of turning away, Short pressed into God with a morsel of shaken faith. “We don’t get to pick our scripts,” she said, “but we have the choice of how to respond.” Responding by grappling for faith in the dark, Short grew and matured, feeling called to step out in trust. A few years later, she fell in love with her husband, Jere Short, and his young son, Jordan. She became a wife and mom all at once.
“God is never done,” she said. “We put up limits and we shouldn’t. Our stories can still be amazing. He can do beautiful things and have wonderful things ahead for us. We need to realize our stories aren’t over.”
Having learned so much, Short knew pain connected people and was inspired to share her story and the stories of others through writing a book detailing faith when life takes unexpected turns. Largely story-driven, the book includes a theological perspective so readers can not only identify and share their experiences but learn. A video curriculum to accompany the book has been implemented so readers can meet the book’s characters, including Short.
“The book is about what it’s like to make choices right where you are,” she said, sharing how her brokenness made her eventual celebration far greater than she could’ve ever imagined.
“Now, I would never redo my story. It’s amazing that God had all of this for me,” Short said, “and, I still got to be a mom!”
Knowing that the point of a story is a character’s transformation, Short felt joy when the conflict was over, but knew it was the conflict that changed the person.
“Sometimes we get to the point of doubt and discouragement and say, well, I’ve waited long enough. But that’s when we have to hang on,” she said.
Primarily an active speaker who is learning to write, Short’s IGNITE topics will feature finding faith in the darkness of difficulties, as well as love, sex, and dating.