Transparent moment: I’ve had some trepidation about blogging this week. I feel as if I have hit some kind of rough patch or something. When my life was in shambles, when I was picking myself up off the ground, when I was climbing from the bottom, and when I was encouraging others when I really needed it myself, it felt like I had so much to say. Now that my life has found a bit of peace, it’s almost like I can’t piece my thoughts together. I feel like I issue a blanket apology statement at the beginning of every blog just in case what I share is trash. So with that same energy, this week I am yet again nervous to share. At the very least, I pray these humble thoughts chronicling my current realities make sense. Ultimately, I hope that as I share my story, I can change a life.
I, by nature, am an independent control freak. I like having plans, clear steps, and order. Some would say that I have a Type A personality, but I won’t fully concede to that. (The fact that won’t concede is proof in and of itself that I have to be in control of the narrative at all times. *sigh*) Though I can’t recall a myriad of details about my childhood, I remember being a bit independent in my teenage years. As soon as I could work, I began working and even elected to skip school activities and abbreviated my class schedule to work. Working [almost] everyday meant I had my own money, and having my own money meant I was independent or in control of my own life…to an extent. I believe this was the origin of of my controlling nature, and it manifested in many ways over the next decade of my life.
When I feel like God is trying to lead me in a new direction or to a new assignment, a series of things happen. First, an idea will “pop” in my head. Though I usually want to dismiss the thought as completely random, it is typically an idea that I tucked into the uttermost corners of my mind as a method of avoidance. I’ll go a step further and say that thing is typically something that I arrogantly declared that I would never do. I can be guilty of speaking with absolutes. Secondly, there will be repeated confirmation from seemingly every direction, everybody, every sermon, every song, and every thing that this is what I need to do. It’s almost like on the movie Bruce Almighty when Bruce is driving down the street praying, “God, give me a signal. Dear God, please give me a sign!” As he desperately prayed that prayer, he passed by a flashing street sign that said, “Caution ahead,” and then he was cut off by a truck with an array of traffic signs. Out of frustration, feeling as if the confirmation he received wasn’t pertinent the prayer he prayed, he sped around the truck, drove through a pothole, and crashed into a light pole. His “signs” were there all along, he just ignored what he saw. If I’m completely honest, when I am bombarded with confirmation, I will try to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. I’ll explain why in a bit. Following the confirmation phase, I enter a place where I CANNOT shake this idea/assignment. It becomes a nagging feeling, almost an ache, in the pit of my stomach from which I cannot find relief. Before I know it, I’ll be dreaming of it at night and thinking about it all day. No matter how hard I try to reject, dismiss, or diminish these thoughts, it is impossible to vanquish the thought that is embedded in my psyche. Next, I enter into a period of time where my controlling nature has its full way. In that space, it is my proclivity to relentlessly research, plan, crunch numbers, configure diagrams, and weigh pros vs. cons. I am doing the most! Of course all of these efforts typically fail because I am attempting to complete a God-given assignment on my terms. Silly rabbit. Lastly, God will send reassurance. Whether it is confirmation in a sermon or a word spoken directly to or for me, he will let me know everything will be alright.
Okay, so here goes… October 2017 gifted me with an idea that would “pop” in my head. Following a lunch with an old acquaintance, he confronted me with the notion of recording and releasing a song that I had written years before. I immediately dismissed the idea reminding him that my path had changed. I was in cosmetology school, and I didn’t have room in my life for music, at least not in that capacity. I thanked him for his vote of confidence but declined the idea. Though I didn’t want to admit it and little did he know, that was a rehearsed response that I had given probably three or four times prior when others would inquire whether or not I would release music. Remember that I said these ideas are typically ones that I have tucked into the corner of my brain and even openly rejected at some point. When I drove away from that quaint restaurant in tucked in Norfolk, I attempted leave all thoughts of that conversation as well. Within a week’s time, I started to receive subtle measures of confirmation, and not too many days following, the nagging feeling set in. I somehow managed to suppress those feelings well enough to cross over into 2018, but as I prayed for direction for my year, God reminded me of the “idea.” There wasn’t much to be said. Simply put, it was time. Insert my nature to be a control freak. I knew when God told me to record and release my song that I had zero dollars and zero cents to dedicate to that project. After sitting with my financial planner and reviewing my budget for 2018, it was further resolved that this move would not make sense. I made a plan, and made a plan again, then I watched both plans fail miserably. After stalling for months with my deadline quickly approaching, I decided to make some faith moves. I put God to the test. With not one vocal track recorded, I put the word out that I was releasing music in July, I started rehearsing with background vocalists, and started booking studio time that I couldn’t even pay for. Then God sent his reassurance. Through a text message from my pastor he said, “I will provide on time.” Long story short, I not only released my single by my slated deadline (my 30th birthday – July 26, 2018), I had a full single release concert where I showcased a few other original songs. And by the way, I walked away from all of that debt free! Shameless plug, you can download my single, “Your Promise,” from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, and stream it on Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, iHeart Radio, and YouTube Red.
All of that was my introduction.
(I guess I got my writing mojo back!)
After almost 21 months, I am approximately six weeks away from completing cosmetology school. (A praise goes right there.) There is no one on earth who is happier about that than Christen Diane Rouson. Baby, this has been such a journey, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. But I’ll be honest and admit that I have a bit of trepidation about completing school. I have a balance left on my tuition that I need to pay before I clock out for the last time. Every time I want to start worrying about it, I hear the words, “I will provide on time.” God reassures me, and I get my life back together and continue trusting him. Simple enough, right?
Well, when I began cosmetology school, I boldly declared to the admissions representative, the financial aid advisor, and anyone who would listen, “THIS is my last chance at school.” There I go speaking in absolutes again. As far as I was concerned, I had to give cosmetology school a good run and not quit because there were no other options after that decision. I had come to that conclusion because I knew going back to school for the fifth [and final time] would deplete my federal funding and leave me with a balance to cover on my own. I reckoned that I had to carefully place all of my eggs into this basket and trust God that all would be well on the other side because this was it! For 21 months, I have worked from 8-4 and schooled from 5-10. I have made sacrifices, forfeited functions with family and friends, ate on the go, and gained 20 pounds (sigh) to make this thing happen because this was it! Ha! Here I am 6 weeks from the finish line wrestling with an idea that “popped” in my head about a month ago. Got daggit!!!!!! WHHHHHHHHYYYYYY???? I had a plan! Go to cosmetology school, pass the state boards, build my clientele, eventually quit my job once I was financially secure and in demand, and build my empire. THERE WAS A PLAN! THAT WAS THE PLAN! I HAD A PLAN!
I had a plan, but God has his will…
So this new idea “popped” in my head at random, but we both know it was not really random. *side eye emoji* It was actually something that I had been openly and verbally rejecting in conversation for about a month or two prior to this “pop.” I was about to say that I can’t recall how it came up in conversation, but that would be an untruth too. In record time, I moved from the initial idea to the nagging phase. This go around, the press on my heart has been unshakable so much so I can feel it physically. Y’all, this literally feels like a coat that I’m wearing that will not come off until this season has passed. (Aaaaaaaaahhhh!!) You already know what came next: CONFIRMATION! I swear in two days time, two to three friends on social media posted about this exact assignment with encouragement attached. “This is just to encourage someone. If I can do it, you can too,” blah blah blah! So I tried to do what I do best: be a control freak. I immediately started overthinking, crunching numbers, reviewing timelines, and I even went to gather research. Here’s the ironic thing, the research was nothing more than additional confirmation! What in the world? So here I am looking at a deficit, calculating the many ways that this thing won’t work, and God is looking at me like the smirking emoji. It’s almost like he doesn’t have to say anything because I already know how this goes. I already know what he said. Reassurance surrounds me.
“Then he said to me, “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.“
Zechariah 4:6 [English Standard Version]
“If I’m completely honest, when I am bombarded with confirmation, I will try to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.” I have a bit of explaining to do. In my experience, I often reject confirmation because it doesn’t align with my life’s reality. Simply put, what God is saying doesn’t resemble what I am seeing; therefore, fear makes me reject what I am hearing. Fear, y’all! Fear is the culprit! It is easier for me to believe that all of the signs are wrong and be surprised with success than to accept the confirmation, reject my plans, step out of faith, and not be 100% certain if things will work out or not. But why wouldn’t things not work? Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good a work in you is faithful to perform it to the day of Jesus Christ.” There’s my guarantee. Sometimes I have to just work (and pray) pass the fear.
Being a control freak always leads me to one sure destination: disappointment. I find myself consumed with impossibilities, unbalanced equations, a litany of excuses, and ultimately failed plans. Here’s the thing, I can’t accomplish God’s will with my might. It doesn’t work that way! When God issues an assignment, he is well aware of what my bank statement says, how booked my calendar is, and what I may or may not believe I can handle. When God gives instruction, he also provides provision. I’ve spent so long making my declarations about what I’m NOT going or can’t do, but those statements are only based on the limited facts that I can see. God knew the TRUTH (greater than facts) when he called me to this assignment. (I think I’m going to Cash App myself an offering today cause I am helping ME!)
In my short 30 years, I have found this scripture to be true. There are some things that he sets before me that I am not intelligent, beautiful, funny, quick, or qualified enough to accomplish on my own. Actually, most of the the things that he gives me to do are that way. Whether I am in the advanced class catching on quickly or in the remediation course catching on after awhile in the sweet by and by, I find myself at the conclusion that I cannot do that “thing” on my own. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Fulfilling his purpose for my life won’t be done because of my ability (might) or even my strength or influence (power), so all those excuses of how I’m not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough don’t matter. GOD DOESN’T NEED ME TO COMPLETE THIS, I NEED HIM!
Alright…so here I am with the nag of this new assignment in the pit of my belly, the reality of its impossibilities before me, and God above me with giving me the side eye. Everything about this says, “Chris, you can’t do this. You’re too old. You don’t have the time. You don’t have the money.” On the other hand God is like, “What did I say?” I feel like I’m in the old school church, and someone should break out singing, “Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord!”
Today I choose to trust God. Y’all I’m NERVOUS because this thing wasn’t even on my scope of accomplishments. I didn’t consider going down this path or fulfilling this assignment primarily because it didn’t fit within my plan.
“I had a plan, but God has his will…”
God has proven himself to me over and over again. Anytime he asked me to do something, he helped me do it. The same is true for you. I’m not sure what big thing seems to be overwhelming your plate, but it’s not going away if it was given to you by God. No, you can’t get around opening that business, going back to school, launching that ministry, mentoring those kids, or publishing that book if God gave you that vision. The only way you won’t succeed is if you permit failure by being disobedient. You can do this. You will do this. And while we are throwing ourselves on the floor having a tantrum, God is looking at asking, “What did I say?”
I hope this helps.