This will be part two of a series of three posts called, “Start. Don’t Stop. Finish.” If you didn’t read last week’s post Start., then I think you should start there. (You see what I did just then? *smirk*)
| Don’t Stop. |
I am so ready for this to be over. I miss my old life. My days are so long, I am exhausted all the time, it feels like I barely have time to even THINK, and I’m missing EVERYTHING! I’m Auntie Dude; I don’t miss concerts and birthdays and family nights. I have NO LIFE! I’m just ready for it to be over!
These have been my frequent thoughts over the last 12 months. If you aren’t aware, last year I began the journey of “building the dream” by enrolling in cosmetology school. Doing hair has been one of my passions since I was a little girl, and God told me to stop making excuses and make it more than just a passion but a profession. So with hardly any federal funding left, after a few back and forth sessions of hyping myself up and talking myself out of it, and a very bold leap, I enrolled. The journey has had it’s ups and downs. The most notable of “downs” have been the long days, the loss of what little social life I had, and the fact that this journey is costing me out of pocket monthly. On the flip side, I really am building my dream — one that I basked in years ago before I got caught up in the routine of just surviving and paying bills. I have met some wonderful people, dare I say friends. Lastly, I’m doing very well! Still, there were days where I clocked out of work and wanted to, out of rebellion and exhaustion, drive home and never go back to school. I wanted to quit.
March 27, 2018:
Oh my God! I’ve been in school for one year!
Though I had moments of exhaustion and there were times that I questioned whether or not I made the right choice, I didn’t stop moving forward. After a while, I looked up, and I was at the half-way mark. Within the past two weeks, I clocked 750 of the 1500 hours required by Virginia State Board, and this week I hit the year mark! I did it!
Here are a few things I have learned on this journey:
- Routines are okay.
- I’ve spent too much of this journey complaining about the groundhog’s day I’ve lived four days each week. Somehow I failed to realize that the routine created a standard, and the standard created consistency. Boom!
- It’s okay to catch your breath.
- There were some weeks that were absolutely overwhelming since work, my leadership requirements for my church, my obligations to my relationships, etc. were still on the table. One of the best things I learned how to do was disconnect every so often so that I could catch my breath. Having a weekend or even simply a day that was just for me gave me just enough strength to keep going.
- It will cost more to quit than to keep going.
- …literally and figuratively. Long story short, I’m going to pay for this whether I finish or not. That’s just one aspect. Try not doing what God told you to do. He has a funny way of making you uncomfortable in every space that you create for yourself because it isn’t where he wants you to be. And if you have the opportunity to try again, there is no guarantee that it will be as easy as it was the first time. Usually second chances require greater effort.
Enough about that. Let’s talk about a few of the other items on the assignment list that I shared with you all last week. As previously mentioned, when God shared with me what he wanted to do with and through me this year, I started shaking in my boots. My most frequently asked question has been, “WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS?” Last week I shared a list of things that “starting” may mean for some of us:
- Actually saying “Yes” to what God is telling you to do — CHECK
- Jotting down all of your ideas concerning this venture on paper (brain dumping is what I call it) — CHECK
- “Writing the Vision” — creating a plan and even tentative deadlines — CHECK
- REACHING OUT FOR HELP! Trust me, this is too big for you to accomplish alone. You need purposeful partnerships. — Ooooo….
- Jumping! If you have the tools, information, and support you need, JUMP! Stop procrastinating. — Ummmm?
If I am honest, as you can see, most of the second half of this list pertained to me even in the very moment that I typed it. My independence typically hinders me from reaching out for help, but I will never offer advice that I wouldn’t take myself. Following my last post, I made some necessary phone calls, reached out for some help and advice, I shared my vision with a few trusted and capable people (this can be hard due to fear that it will be misunderstood), and I jumped. I started moving forward. You want to know what has happened since? I’ve made progress! No, not every conversation yielded the exact results that I hoped for. Good Lord, these price quotes have been high and my bank account still looks as it did when I accepted the assignment. Please believe the question has remained, now more than ever, “Who is going to pay for this, sir?”
“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 [Christian Standard Bible]
(You will see this scripture one more time.)
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Last week I told you that God is in your start.
Today I want to point out two things. Number one: your work is good.
Last night I had a quick chat with my best friend where he simply told me how proud of me he was. “You are probably one of the most talented people I know,” he said as he praised how multifaceted I am. Beyond responding with gratitude, I shared with him how very often I find myself a bit insecure about all that I’m doing. First and foremost, nobody wants to be the one who is “doing the most.” (That’s young people terminology for doing too much, being over the top, or being all over the place.) Secondly, I sometimes worry if what I offer is good enough. It seems like so many others can do what I do so much better than me. It leaves me questioning why God would ask me to do it all? Doesn’t he have enough willing workers? Can’t he see that what I can offer isn’t what others may consider the best? Well, his continued compliments confirmed what this scripture is saying: YOUR work is good. If this is the assignment and work that God started in you, why wouldn’t it be good? Why wouldn’t God bring out the best from you since he planted the best in you? That dream he gave you was good. That vision he gave you was good. The strategy he revealed was good. The work he began in you was good, and if you are following his way, what is being produced is good even if some of the steps in the process don’t go so well! “For we know all things work together for the good of them who love the Lord and called according to his purpose.” [Romans 8:28]
Number two: God will carry this! (This is my favorite point.)
Once I got started, these assignments moved from the brain dumping, simple idea phase to becoming items on the budget list and notches on the timeline. I was no longer just dreaming but doing. I found that I was a bit more overwhelmed when I had fact sheets in front of me than I was when I hadn’t even committed to the idea of saying “yes” to the assignment. Now more than before I’ve been concerned with the “how’s” of this. Then I read this scripture again. “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on…” NEVER did this scripture say anything about me carrying something. Now now, I am not saying that we do not have to participate in fulfillment of God’s plan for our lives. The Bible clearly tells us that “…faith by itself, if not complemented with action, is dead.” [James 2:17] In addition the Bible instructs to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will tell you which path to take.” [Proverbs 3:5-6] According to Chris, God carrying this (and you in this) means he takes your faith and your trust in him and gives you direction and strategy so that you know how to take action. All of that results in the fulfillment of his will and the completion of your assignment. (You see how I combined those scriptures?)
God’s reassurance to me: “Girl, do you really think I’d let you start something and not sustain you? Since you’re doing it in my name, my name is on the line too.”
Today I am simply trying to convince you to keep going. I’ve wanted to quit school more times than I can count usually because of a temporary feeling of exhaustion or frustration. But if I can just make it to the finish line, I have the opportunity to live the dream that I’m building; I have access to an entirely new life! Y’all, don’t quit because of temporary feelings! You hear me???? My efforts to publish a book and release music has not been a walk in the park. Besides needing to give myself a pep talk every three days, I’ve had to rest in the fact that God is going to foot this bill, and with whatever happens, good or bad, God is carrying this and me!
In the summer of 1994, a film about a young man with both physical and intellectual challenges was released. The movie was called “Forrest Gump.” (I’m aware that this movie may be a bit too old for a few of my readers.) In the depiction of his life over the span of a few decades, we see Forrest always overcome challenges. Whether running from bullies until the braces fell off his legs, winning a football scholarship to the University of Alabama, or joining the military, Forrest always pushed forward. I won’t give anymore details because it actually is worth the watch.
In a notable scene of the movie, Forrest goes for a run after his love interest, Jenny, declines his proposal for marriage. In the three and a half years that follow, we see Forrest running back and forth across the country. While being interviewed, after gaining some notoriety, he was asked the purpose of this journey. His response was simple, as expected: “I just felt like running.”
I don’t know what pushed you to your start. For me, God allowed a series of life transitions including disappointments, failures, losses, and even victories to align me in a position where I could accept his assignment for my life. Whatever the reason for our start, we’ve started! Now let’s take our cue from Forrest. I imagine when he started running he didn’t account for fatigue, inclement weather, or even those who would join and leave him while on the journey. He just kept running.
There will be good days and bad days. You will want to quit. THAT, my love is a guarantee. DON’T QUIT! Take each day at a time, even if that means finding a routine. There’s nothing wrong with putting a little rhythm to your tasks. Even gym fanatics know that a workout is a little easier, a bit more productive, and goes by a little faster if a song with the right rhythm is playing. Live each day for what it is…a good day. Celebrate what worked and learn from what didn’t. Get you a group of friends/supporters who will cheer you on or run right beside you. Whatever you have to do, DON’T STOP! Me and a whole lot of other people you may have overlooked are rooting for you to succeed!
In the words of Diddy/Puffy Daddy/Puffy/Sean Combs… whatever his name is now,
“Can’t stop. Won’t Stop.”
I hope this helps.