Journey to 30: Fret Not

“Turning 30 changes your life,” they said.  “A major shift happens when you turn 30,” I was told.  “You really start to figure out who you are when you turn 30,” I heard.  And it has all been true.

Last week, with my blog “Journey to 30: Who Am I?,” I shared one of my greatest discoveries yet…me.  Today I will continue sharing some of the lessons that I have learned on the Journey to 30.

| Journey to 30: Fret Not |

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Fret:

verb – to be constantly or visibly worried or anxious

noun – a state of anxiety or worry

To know me is to know that I am a worry wart.  This characteristic, that I absolutely  loathe, is directly correlated to the an even worse flaw of my personality; I am a control freak.  I’ll interject by saying I have progressively gotten better and have learned how to “lose control” in most areas of my life.  Experience has taught me that when you are forced to do it, you learn how to do it in the process!  Amen?  Amen.  Anyway, I have figured out how not to be a micro-manager, and, in a lot of cases, I’ve learned how to not freak out when plans must be altered.  But I must tell the whole truth.  My name is Christen, and I sweat the details.

Monday morning, I sat in my office with my boss to review my evaluation.  (Side note: I received a GREAT evaluation despite last year being in the number of one of my hardest years yet.)  After the review, we began a dialogue about our personal lives.  What you must understand is I purposely create a divide between business and personal almost greater than that between church and state.  It is usually only in my evaluation meeting that I share anything about what is happening in my world outside of work.  At the lowest level, she knows I believe in Jesus, I work for her (duh), I am in cosmetology school, and I live about 30 minutes from my job.  She just found out that I sing within the last 60 days.  I digress.  As we were chitting and chatting, I began to share with her my feelings about being in school at almost 30 years old; how it had always been my desire to have the four-year college experience but I didn’t figure out until almost 30 and after four previous attempts at a degree that I best excel in a technical education environment.  I shared my earnest desire to be done with school and find some normalcy again.  Lastly I mentioned how turning 30 has been a journey that I have had to walk alone…or at least without my mother. 

The truth is, I have felt a bit lost as I’ve navigated to my 30-year-old self, and I wish my mommy was here to help me.  Losing her at 21 years and 6 months to the day only leaves me feeling slighted.  This is so frustrating.

As some of you may know, I am releasing music within a matter of days, and I am having a single release concert next Saturday.  This is the first event that I have hosted/planned, and it has been such a large undertaking.  It has been through this endeavor that I have been tested and proven as a recovered micro-manager.  Had I not dished out assignments, this would NOT have even happened.  So he we are down to the wire, and I am finding myself doing what I do best…sweating the details.  Some time ago the word of the Lord sent through my pastor was, “I will provide on time,” and he has done that.  The resources haven’t been what I have liked, I have tried to be inventive with stretching the budget and cutting corners, but he has provided.  And as I stand, scissors in hand from corners cut, I am finding that there are many small details that can’t be cut, overlooked, or undone.  I am frustrated.

As it relates to my personal life, I want to move.  I am currently living in my “Blessing Apartment” that God gave me after living on my brothers’ couches.  After losing everything, God gave me this and allowed me to rebuild.  Still to this day I thank God for providing me with a roof to have over my head and giving me a “yes” after I heard “no” quite a few times.  Over the last 18 months of living there my life has changed a bit, and the distance my home is away from every other destination in my life has become an issue.  Being seemingly isolated once served a purpose.  I believe it was a metaphor for how God was separating me to pull me into surgery and allow me to heal.  You do know when you go to have surgery in a hospital, the operating room and recovery rooms aren’t beside the waiting room where everyone is sitting, right?  See how that metaphor plays out?  Just the same, God saw I needed to undergo major transformations and maneuver through a few transitions, so he not only separated me from some friendships and relationships, I believe he allowed my geographic location to be set apart as well.  It forced me to not run to close by to friends but be alone and get worked on.  Well, now I am better and I feel I no longer need to remain isolated.  As a matter of fact, being so far from my world has a greater cost.  Simply put, I believe my time us up.  So recently, I have been apartment hunting in an area that is closer to work, school, my family, and my church, and I believe I have some leads.  Here is the problem: I’ll have to break my lease and pay the fine to move (on top of the moving costs).  Over the last few days I have been thinking and over thinking, crunching numbers, making plans, and getting frustrated. 

Yesterday I walked into my boss’ office to give her something, and I made a quick joke about turning 30 next week.  She must have seen pass my facade and saw the small corner of my smile that was a bit crooked or that the glimmer in my eyes wasn’t as bright.  In a small, calm tone she said, “Stop fretting.”

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 [New Living Translation]

THE MORAL(S) OF THE STORY:

Things I have learned on my Journey to 30 and was reminded of yesterday:

  • Don’t get trapped in the cycleBeing worried = over thinking = being worried = over thinking… and so on and so forth.  Sometimes I succumb to my “Super Hero Complex” and even try to fix myself or things in my own life.  (Read last week’s blog for a better understanding of the Super Hero Complex.)  But here’s the deal, at no point in that cycle will my worrying and over thinking move, rush, stop, or maneuver the hand of God on my life.  Whether what is happening is what he ordained or if it is simply something that he allowed, he’s got me covered. 
  • Get it out, say a prayer, take a breath – This technique is specifically tailored to me, my life, and my personality.  Because I am who I am, hearing, “Don’t worry about it,” means nothing to me.  If something is on my mind, I must find a way to express it; holding it in makes me a bit implosive.  Most times, I make lists and lists for my lists so that I can “brain dump.”  Other times I may call a friend and ramble all of my thoughts out.  Doing this allows me to hear/read the playback to see if what I’m stressed over is even really as big as I’m making it, it allows me to realize solutions that I may be completely overlooking, but most importantly it re-centers me.  When all is said or written, I know what I have to do… I have to talk to God, and I have to let it go.
  • You may make things worse – Do you remember the episode of Saved by the Bell when Jessie was so overwhelmed with studying so that she could get into Stanford, practicing with her new girl group, and just being a teenager in general that she started taking caffeine pills?  By the end of the episode, when Zach stopped by her house, she was in full meltdown mode because her efforts only made things worse.  She crashed.  (Cheers to my childhood and quality television.)  That episode of Saved by the Bell is an accurate depiction of my life when I take matters into my own hands.  I become overwhelmed with all that’s on my plate and then, thinking it is a logical solution, I start coming up with strategies to combat all that I have before me.  But here in lies the problem, what if God placed all of those things (good and bad) before me to draw me to him?  What if the overwhelming blessing and overwhelming issues were merely tools to make me seek him?  That would make sense as to why figuring it out on my own only makes things worse.
  • You’ve got this and he’s got you – As I approach 30, I imagine myself standing in front of a huge wooden door.  It is affixed to what seems to be a fortress, and this door looks so heavy.  I have no clue what is on the other side, but turning around to walk away from it is not an option.  I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that is trembling as I think of attempting to push this door open.  Though there have been many discoveries, I am a bit weary from this journey.  I don’t know if I have any strength to turn 30 and open the door that is in front of me.  I by myself am weak.  But I am reminded of scripture that tells me that God’s grace is enough for me, his strength is made perfect in my weakness, and when I am weak, then am I strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  When I began this journey, he already knew each step I would have to take, he knew the times that I’d stumble, and he knew how worn I’d be from the journey.  The proverbial door at the end of said journey was no surprise to him either just as he knew I’d be too weak to open it on my own.  He’s been here all the time, and that will not change.  As I use my faith to place my hands on the door, it will be his strength that opens it for me.  There’s nothing to hard for him.

Whether it is pressing my way to my final day of cosmetology school, finalizing details for my single release and concert, figuring out if moving is a realistic option right now, or simply just finishing this journey to 30 so that I can step into a new dimension, I’ve learned two major things: I can’t do this on my own, and worrying will keep me from doing it.

Since my boss has sweetly said, “Stop fretting,” I have breathed.  Things aren’t perfect and don’t have all of the answers to anything just yet, but I have just a little more peace than I think I had yesterday.  I can’t change what is behind me, I can’t manipulate what is in front of me, and I can’t predict what is ahead of me.  Today I can only trust the God who is within me.

…one more piece of the journey next week.  I’ll officially be at 30’s door next Thursday.
I hope this helps.
-Chris

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