Where the unction can take you: living a fulfilling life, urged on by The Call, climbing away from abuse
By John Addyman
“There’s no running away from the unction,” she said, sitting at her dining room table, resplendent in a royal blue dress. “You have to yield to it.”
She’s tapping her finger on the table, quietly making her point. Then she’s pointing to whoever is listening.
“I was called into the ministry. I had an unction from God. The Holy Spirit gives you an unction and God speaks to you.”
For many who hear the call from on high, it’s a whisper, a tingling, a sudden realization that you’ve had your thinking turned completely around.
Ivy Caldwell, 58, clearly got the call.
She explained: “I had dreams of being in front of people. I can remember one Sunday our pastor, Bishop John Crocker, preached a message and it spoke directly to me: God was calling me to preach. There’s no running from the unction.
“I told Bishop Crocker that God was speaking to me in my dreams. I dreamed of being in front of people, speaking. He told me about a program in Yonkers where I could get my bachelor’s degree in theology. He said, ‘I’m going to get you signed up for that.”
That was years ago. Caldwell has since been just about everything in her Faith, Hope and Charity Worship Center in Rochester — teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, leading the praise and worship team, working as the cleaning overseer, teaching youth discipleship and standing in as Pastor Theresa Crocker’s armor-bearer.
Now she has stepped onto a national stage as a writer who spent years as a Christian struggling against and finally subduing a particularly ugly demon.
It is the pain she carried for so many years that has clarified her voice so that she now helps other women face their deepest fears and conquer them.
She is vivid in her tale.
“As a little girl, I was sexually abused on my ninth birthday,” she said, unwinding the core of who she is now. Her tone is matter-of-fact. She doesn’t have to emphasize much, her story is so strong.
“There are so many people who are holding in past trauma, trauma they have yet to talk about. That’s why people are drinking, are using drugs and are in psychiatric wards,” she said. “The challenge is comprehending the trauma that has happened to them. That’s why I wrote my book. God told me to write this book. It has already helped women.
“My mother’s boyfriend abused me. I got a phone call from him on my birthday. The voice on the other end of the line said, ‘I have a surprise for you.’ So, of course, I figured I was invited: I go to his house, alone, I get up there and that’s what he does.
“After the incident, I didn’t speak of it. We were living on one side of town. Our house caught fire and we moved to the other side of town. Months went by, but who shows up at our house? He does. He’s living with us now. I am this little girl walking around with this fear, this anger, this hatred and one day my mom asked me, ‘Why don’t you like him?’
“I told her exactly what happened to me. Her words to me were, ‘Child, ain’t nothing happened to you. Must have been something you saw on TV.’”
“That day shut my voice,” Caldwell said. “If your mom doesn’t have your back, who’s going to have your back? Her boyfriend would taunt me — ‘I’m going to get you, I’m going to get you’ — with this evil grin on his face. He would try to bait me. He’d buy me things, wanted me to get close to him, to like him. I wasn’t having it. I hated this man.
“Years go by and finally my mom and I did have a conversation again about the incident. She said, ‘Well, I just did the best that I could.’ So I left it alone. I went back a third time because I’m getting ready to write my book. I told her, ‘Mom, you’re going to be in this book; you’re part of my story.’ We sat at the table and I listened to her story.”
Her mother had been raised on a plantation.
“We know what goes on at a plantation. So when my mother said she did the best that she could, I got it,” Caldwell said.
She understood, but still, her mother had not protected her.
“But I got it, the mindset my mother had was that she did the best she could because what happened to her on that plantation was worse in her mind — far worse — compared to what happened to me.”
In the end, Caldwell and her mother reconciled.
“All is well. Months went by and she came over to my house with the book I’d written and told me, ‘You know what? I missed it. I missed it.’ That was her way of saying, ‘I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?’” she said.
Not a year went by and Caldwell’s mother died of cancer.
“I ended up being her caregiver,” she said. “She came here and just deteriorated with terminal bone cancer, in 30 days. She didn’t tell anyone.”
The book Caldwell wrote is “Expose It! Let Your Healing Process Begin…”
In it, she details what abuse meant — and did — to her. She asks readers who have suffered abuse and trauma to focus on the enemy, in her Christian sense, Caldwell is zeroed in on Satan, the entity who forced the abuser into action. But for those who aren’t Christian, the abuser is the target.
She uses scripture references to make her points, allowing someone to expand their faith as they try to get themselves whole again after the horrors of the abuse.
And once she put the book together, Caldwell’s next move was to develop a program she could deliver to abused women, using the book as the foundation. She taught the beta (test) version of that course last year.
“I wanted to get feedback from people about the course. I had three brave souls, women, with backgrounds of domestic violence and sexual abuse. We met two days a week for six sessions,” she said.
She got right down to business in the opening session.
“I don’t need to know what happened to you,” she told her participants. “But I’m going to challenge you to find someone in your circle you trust to share your story with.
That first night I share my story. I’m very transparent about me and what I’ve been through. The people in the class didn’t have anything to say. The second night, they asked questions, but they weren’t giving up any information. On the third night, they could not wait to expose their truths. I sat there in awe. ‘God, look what you have done.’ This is how life-transforming this is: One of the young ladies asked me, ‘Can I share my information with you?’ I told her, ‘Of course.’ She gave me a call. She said, ‘I thank God for you because I was getting ready to kill myself.’ I thought, ‘Oh my God. We don’t know what people are going through. They all stayed with the course and enjoyed it, loved it.”
Caldwell had another session in April. She’s offering the classes virtually, but can schedule a group in person, and extend the program beyond those six basic sessions if need be. Details are on her website, footprintenterprisesllc.com.
Just before Expose It! made it into print, Caldwell got published in Chanel Martin’s collaboration about race relations in America, “We Deserve to Be Heard.” Martin is, as Caldwell describes, “a performance and accountability leadership coach using Biblically based principles.”
Caldwell had responded to Martin’s social media plea for writers to submit a chapter about African American women finding their voices. Caldwell wrote about hate being taught to children.
“We don’t come into this world hating people. Children can be outside playing with one another, no matter what background you come from, no matter what your color is — with no problems, no issues,” she said.
That chapter and her book led her to contribute to Latrina Caldwell’s collaboration, “Walking in My Purpose – Successful Women on the Move.” Next came five chapters in Dr. Monique Rodgers’ series, “Calling to Intercede: A Collaboration of Intercessors on the Front Line of Prayer” – an Amazon best-seller.
And the pace accelerated. Caldwell has made bylined contributions and chapters to Michelle S. Thomas’s “8 Qualities of the Exceptional Black Woman” and the later “A Guide to Success.” Caldwell collaborated with Pastor Crocker on “Transitioning to the Other Side – Coping with the Loss of Life,” and was one of 99 authors of the devotional, “Joy Comes in the Morning.”
Caldwell’s newest book, “Where is My Father?” is a children’s book about a little boy who doesn’t know who his father is and wonders if he will ever meet him. It’s the first in a series she’s developing “because children don’t have a voice.” It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
And she just announced two more children’s books — “I Am Special” for girls, and “I Am Special Too” for boys.
“All too often our children are pushed to the side and not given the attention they need,” she said. “I wrote these books to encourage and empower children to look within and appreciate who they are.”
You’d think Caldwell is being pulled in a hundred different directions, now that she is so active in Christian literature and self-help books; but she is still running an insurance business out of her home. She has four sons and a husband, Kevin, whom she describes…”I know that scripture says when a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing. But I am the one who has found a good thing — anything my heart desires, God fulfills and anything I want, my honey (Kevin) fulfills.”
Caldwell looks at her developing career.
“I am a certified life coach, a certified Christian counselor and chaplin. I have a faith-based organization that helps women who are ready to confront their past emotional trauma. I help women find their voice, authority and power,” she said.
She believes she will continue to reach more and more women.
“It’s going to happen,” she promised. “It’s just a matter of time.”
And right after that, she added that she’s a co-author with Dr. Elaine Harvey in the recently released book, “I Am An Overcomer.”
That unction just keeps moving Ivy Caldwell along.