Simplify

I just deleted four paragraphs.

What I just typed was beautiful, but it completely negated the central theme and most important message of this blog, so I deleted. And no, I don’t feel any kind of way about it at all. #kanyeshrug

One word has resonated in my spirit on repeat for the last two or three weeks…SIMPLIFY! God has been whispering to me in my sleep, speaking to me while awake, and reminding me as I make decisions.

“Chris, simplify.”

Long before my spirit caught wind of what God was saying, I was doing it. At the beginning of March, I made a [hard] decision to give up something I loved that was draining my pockets. In typical Chris fashion, I brainstormed plan after plan in an attempt to make it work. At some point, I had to make the decision that being without it was the only way to relieve my life of the burden that it had become, so I did what I had to do. That was beginning of my sudden urge to clean out my life. Next, I went on a rampage and began cleaning my house. Five large trash bags later, I threw away things that I had carried from place to place…some of which I hadn’t seen or used in years. One night I watched the clock tick into the wee hours of the morning as I went through my laptop and deleted old documents, pictures, videos, and files that I’d been saving since 2012. As I ran across letters and poems written to my ex, I not only found freedom in trashing what I wrote and saying goodbye to the memories attached, I joyfully bid farewell to the girl who wrote those words. (Whew, I was not as wise or whole as I am today.) Over the course of the last few months, I have been releasing the weight of empty things I have been carrying emotionally. Interesting correlation: as I was cleaning out my second bedroom, I had to move around a garbage bag full of purses. Though the purses were empty, the weight of the bags themselves still made the garbage bag extremely heavy. The only resolve for the heavy garbage bag was to get rid some of the empty purses that I no longer wanted, that didn’t fit my style, or weren’t useful to me anymore. MESSAGE! Just because it’s empty doesn’t mean it can’t be heavy. Useless things carry weight too.

I found a level of freedom in letting some things go especially when I considered how that sweet benediction would benefit my future; however, a part of me wished I didn’t have to part with the things I’d had and loved for so long . I had no clue that there were more choices ahead of me that would require me to simplify. Imagine being presented the opportunity for one of your dreams to come true, but it can’t happen the way you envisioned it. That too has been my story. I had the chance to do it my way…a way that would have allowed me to have a glorious story written just the way I like it. The problem was my way would have cost too much and created a deficit that I wouldn’t be able to fix. Then here comes God like, “I have a way to make it happen, but it’s not as glamourous. You down?” It seems like every single thing has made it’s way to the chopping block, and I have to make a decision…even down to where and how I live. Whew!

Interestingly enough, this word from God has not only been a command but an explanation. I didn’t understand why I had the unction to get rid of some things until I clearly heard God say, “Chris, simplify.” God wasn’t just telling me what to do. God was confirming what I had already begun doing.

“Make room for what you are praying for.”

-a Tweet

I ran across that quote on Twitter about a week ago. Obviously, that is something that I have read before, but after hearing, “Chris, simplify,” it hit differently for me.

At the top of the year, I purchased notebook with the word Dream scripted across the cover. It was my intention to fill the lined pages with my vision for 2020. I took me weeks to write anything down as I felt as if I had nothing to look forward to. You can blame that on the roller coaster ride called 2019 and the plethora of things on its vision board that remained unaccomplished by the year’s end. Weeks after purchasing that notebook, I poured my heart on its pages and set the notebook aside. Every now and then, I’d consider picking up the notebook to try to dream a little more, but it never panned out. As our lives were shaken by pandemic and I entered into quarantine, I figured there wasn’t a reason to even dream. What I had already put in the atmosphere and asked God for was more than enough. Furthermore, I assumed some of those requests would be put on hold indefinitely until life regained some normalcy. Boy, was I wrong. Unbeknownst to me, God had me cleaning out my life to make room for the prayers that I prayed then second guessed. God still manifesting though my faith was a little weak… ladies and gents, that is grace! Quite sometime before I made the hard decision to relinquish “the thing I loved,” I prayed and asked God for relief. I knew that unless a major shift happened for me, I would succumb to the weight that my once blessing was now pressing on my shoulders. Fast forward the clock a few months, and I made the decision to simplify. Long before I went on a rampage cleaning out my guest bedroom, I prayed to God and asked that the next place I lived would be clean, peaceful, and would surround me only with what mattered most to me. Fast forward the clock a few months, and I found myself trashing old baggage so that I don’t pack it up and carry it with me into my next place. By the way, who knew I’d consider downsizing so I wouldn’t have room for the extra baggage anyway?

About a week ago, I decided to peruse through that notebook with Dream scripted on its cover. As I laid in bed flipping through the pages, I chuckled. Some of the very things that I had written down were already in motion, coming to fruition. Months ago, I wrote my vision, prayed about it, and walked away from it because I was unsure how those things would come to pass. Though I pushed some desires to the back of my mind, God didn’t forget my prayers at all. Instead God was ordering my steps and influencing my decisions which ultimately was making room for the very things I had prayed for and counted out. God helped me simplify.

I have peace. That’s what I feel as I type this blog…peace. I’ve given up quite a bit. I’ve lost some things too. I’ve made decisions to take the less glamorous yet more efficient route. I’m going to downsize. I’m doing what’s best for me with no regard for outside opinion. I’m making room. I’m simplifying. *sigh* This literally feels like a breath of fresh, crisp air.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

…if you haven’t already gotten the point. Sometimes less really is more. You can live without the things/people/opportunities that you thought you’d die without. The potential loss may be creating space for a significant gain.

In this season, I am choosing what God wants and what’s best for Chris. This is a far cry from the habits of a serial people pleaser. I’m just simplifying.

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.

-Chris

Slowing Down and Seeing

Addressing the elephant in the room:  I have blogged since March.  (I may blog later about why I haven’t blogged.)  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can move forward.  *smile*

In an exchange of text messages with a friend last night, he asked me what is my favorite hymn and why.  For those who aren’t aware of that a hymn is, Oxford dictionary defines it as, “a religious song or poem of praise to God or a god.”  It is usually a traditional song that was written forever ago that has been sung over the years.  Fun fact, as time progresses, new songs can be added to a hymn book.  I digress.  We both spoke of our favorite hymns and gave an explanation as to why it’s number one for us. 

My favorite hymn is Jesus is All the World to Me:

Jesus is all the world to me; my life, my joy, my all.  He is my strength from day to day; without him I would fall.  When I am sad, to him I go.  No other one can cheer me so.  When I am sad, he makes me glad.  He’s my friend.

My friend’s favorite hymn is He Looked Beyond My Faults

Amazing grace will always be my song of praise, for it was grace that brought me liberty.  I do no know just why he ever came to love me so.  He looked beyond all my faults and saw my need.

After reading our reasoning for loving these hymns and seeing the common thread of the abundant love that God has for us, it was undeniable that God is so much more than I give God credit for.  In that moment, I admitted that I often don’t take the time to truly see God in as much fullness as I can.  Though I am sure to pray and thank God for who God is to me, I feel as if going through the motions of the day never allows me to stop and embrace all that I know of God.  It’s like when you eat food when you are on the go opposed to when you intentionally sit at a table and eat.  Of all the times that I have eaten in the car, stuffing my food down my throat as I rushed to my next destination, I could barely remember if the food was anything beyond “good” or “nasty.”  Though there may have been more seasonings present beyond just salt and pepper, I probably only noticed if it were too salty or under seasoned.  In my haste to just be fed, I couldn’t appreciate anything more than if what I just consumed was enough to hold me over until the next meal.  However, when I cook at home or eat in a restaurant (which the latter isn’t happening right now because of the quarantine), I have time to savor my food, identify the individual flavors, and even take my time eating it without rush.  When I slow down, I’m more likely to appreciate the cut of the meat, the cooking technique, and even the presentation.

As I have admitted, I sometimes treat God like the Four for Four (Fo fa Fo) that I grabbed from Wendy’s on my way to my next appointment.  I’m not enjoying God for who God is beyond something to sustain me.  Now let me clear my name.  I do create intimate moments to worship God, so it’s not like I never appreciate God.  What I’m trying to say is I don’t always fully take it all in.  I’d dare say I sometimes take it for granted.

Last night as I thought about and recited the lyrics to the two aforementioned hymns, I felt overwhelmed.  This God knows my insecurities, inabilities, proclivities, the walls I put up and masks I put on, my failures, and my flaws and still CHOOSES to look past that and see me.  God looks beyond all of that mess and attends to what I really need.  How humbling is that?  Or how in my favorite hymn, Jesus CHOOSES to be my friend who cheers me when I’m sad.  Considering how guarded I am when it comes to friendships (which is another blog for another day), it almost brought me to tears to know that I am CONSIDERED so intently by God.  To be honest, it makes me feel so unworthy.  There’s nothing I could do to earn that type of care, but God extends it to me anyway.  God considers me worthy.  *sigh*

Obviously, I don’t have anything really deep to share today.  I’m literally just basking in how loved I feel.  Silly thing is, I’ve had this love surrounding me all along.  I’ve had someone catching me when I stumble, protecting me from dangers seen and unseen – that takes on a whole new meaning with COVID 19, mending my broken heart, loving me unconditionally, allowing ends to meet, and creating provision when I couldn’t figure it out.  I literally could go on and on, but I won’t in this blog.

Today, I am taking a moment to be intentional acknowledging God.  Today, I don’t want to rush through the day or go through the motions.  Today, I don’t want to say a blanket “Thank You” without being specific as to why I’m grateful.  If nothing else, this pandemic is teaching me these lessons: slow down and see what’s around you, appreciate every single thing, count each moment as a gift, and don’t be stingy with your love.

Okay, that’s all for now.

I hope this helps.  I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris

Adulting: I Don’t Feel Like It

Addition, subtraction, steering, and makeup application…  My morning drive is usually a test to see how well I can multi-task (don’t judge me), but now we’re adding math in the mix too, Chris?  My brain crunched numbers trying to figure out how many miles on average I drive per day and week therefore configuring how long I have until my warranty expires.  I found myself trying to determine which activities I could cut from my weekly routine so that I wouldn’t need to use my car as often.  I applied blush and freaked out.  I blotted my lipstick and worried.  I drove, and with each mile I found myself a bit more stressed until I’d had enough.

| Adulting: I Don’t Feel Like It |

It seems as if I have spent the better part of the the last few months having to adult.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that I’m almost 32, and I have been flying solo out of my daddy’s house for almost a decade, but dang!  I thought my twenties got me together, but these thirties, baby!  Whew!  I’ve had to make hard decisions about major transitions, consider my debt to income ratio, think about long-term career moves, and sign my name on contracts while praying that I’m making the right decision.  That’s the thing that has been stressing me the most:  I’ve made so many decisions in my life time that I thought were good, logical decisions that in turn were doozies that left me worse off or with a new mess to clean up.  Furthermore, after you’ve made so many bad decisions, you become afraid to make any decisions at all.  Such was the case last week as I sat trying to decide whether or not to sign my name on yet another dotted line and again this week as I contemplated my next move.  To know me is to know that though I can be emotional – mostly because I am an empath who feels deeply – I am very logical when it comes to making decisions – mostly because I am an overthinker and a control freak.  Now that is a combination.  I will crutch numbers, try to predict outcomes, and explore all options sometimes to the point of procrastination and ultimately indecision.  Heck, I’ve been toiling over what to cook for dinner tonight since Sunday!  SUNDAY!  It’s Thursday, and I’m still looking up recipes as if I don’t know how to cook.  I am legit getting on my own nerves at this point.  *shaking my head*  Over the last few months, all of my overthinking and logical exploration has led to anxiety and stress, and when I finally made a decision, I’ve found myself worrying over it.  This morning as I drove to work trying to do quick math on how many miles I didn’t need to drive so that I could have some more time with my warranty, I got fed up.  Though I had been driving silently tuning out whatever song was playing in the background, I opened my mouth and yelled, “I don’t feel like it!  I don’t feel like worrying anymore!”

And there you have it, folks… I don’t feel like worrying anymore.

The truth is, there is no way I can return my adulthood to the store.  I’ve had it so long that my free trial has expired, and I have lost the receipt.  There are also no exchanges permitted; I tried.  I am stuck being an adult until the good Lord calls me home to glory (I sound so old LOL).  In this time that I remain on God’s green earth, I will continue to face moments where I have to make tough decisions, and I am going to question if I have the wherewithal to make the right choice.  Some things will be “no brainers,” and I’ll probably still want to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, turn my face to the wall, sit in sackcloth and ashes, and ask God to take God’s finger of love to write clearly on the wall what it is that I should do.  Whew, I’m so extra!  And after I have finally made my choice, I will spend too much time trading the excitement I should have for the worry that I shouldn’t.  I have done just that in the last week.  I won’t get into all of the actual factuals, but just know that I knew I needed to make a decision, so I gathered so much information that I didn’t know what to do with it,  prayed and cried, talked to a more adultier adult or two, gathered more information, talked to a professional and was presented with a solution, wallowed in anxiety concerning that solution, finally made a choice, then spent the last eight days questioning my decision.  I haven’t been excited yet even when others where excited for me.  Actually, it wasn’t until yesterday when my therapist affirmed that I made a good choice that I breathed a sigh of relief.  All of that just for me to start worrying about something else this morning.  Oh my God, and don’t get me started on the pandemonium surrounding the Coronavirus, the economy, whether or not my job will get closed because the virus has been confirmed in my region, all this election stuff on top of me trying to make time for self-care, stop stuffing my face so I can lose weight, regulate and maintain my blood pressure, drink enough water, try to make friends, fast for Lent, keep my skin moisturized, and mind my durn business in an age where everybody’s business is public knowledge.  Whew, child!!!  (Are y’all reading this as quickly as my brain is reeling and my heart is palpitating?)

My randomly boisterous outburst in the car wasn’t me giving up on being a responsible adult…that’s impossible.  My outburst was my declaration that even with aaaaaaaaaalllllll of the side effects of adulting, I CAN’T WORRY ANYMORE … right now.  Sis is tired.  Sis needs a break.  Sis has had enough.  Sis can’t handle it.  Sis is giving it to God.  SIS IS ME!

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand.”

Philippians 4: 6-7 [New Living Translation]

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

Y’all, I have legit driven myself coo coo for Cocoa Puffs trying to make sure my decisions are perfect and make sure the effects of my decisions are perfect too.  In a nutshell, I’ve been low key trying to star in the role of God in the hit stage play The Life and Times of Chris.  I don’t have all power in my hands, and there is no way that I can control what will happen next.  Life is finna happen, and I’m going to have to just trust that God will lead me to make the next decision when the current one fails or expires.  I have to trust that God won’t let my life just fall all apart.  This dumb worry has the power to convince me that my life is in shambles when it is perfectly resting in God’s hands.  I am NOT out of the scope of God’s control.

So, check it… the scripture gives me the solution to my problem.  When I feel the urge to worry, I need to pray.  When I can’t figure ish out, I need to tell God what I need.  And when I feel overwhelmed with what it seems I don’t have, I need to thank God for what God has already done for me.  Pray + tell God what I need + thank God… But wait, why do I need to tell God what I need if God already knows?  According to Chris, sometimes you have to open your mouth and say state your needs because just because you need it doesn’t mean you want it right now.  Have you ever had somebody come to you to fall out and complain about a situation, you give them the perfect solution, but they’d rather keep their issue?  Have you ever had someone who you knew needed some money, and their pride caused them to refuse it when you offered it?  Heck, have you known somebody whose breath was DAAAAAANK, and when you offered them the gum they needed, they said they didn’t want any gum?  (Side note: please ALWAYS take the gum!  As stingy as people can be with gum, they won’t offer it if they don’t think you need it!)  Consider the same to be true with God.  God can know and have what you need but still want you to ask because it reveals at least two things: your willingness to relinquish your worry and embrace God’s solution…however God wants to do it AND your willingness to be vulnerable and trust God.

Pray + Tell God What I Need + Thank God = Peace

The remedy for worry is peace.

Thank you, Jesus.  I don’t need to figure things out for the long term.  I don’t need to recalculate and stress.  I don’t need to have Plans A-M.  I need peace.  I have been extremely tired and bogged down not just because I’ve been adulting, but because in my adulting, I’ve been worried.  Today, I am declaring, “I don’t feel like it.  I don’t feel like worrying anymore.”  During my lunch break while I’m eating my wangz and sipping on my water (#balance), I’m gonna have a chat with God.  I really need to tell God what’s on my heart that has me flipping out and how I need God to meet that need.  Secondly, I have to tell God, “Thank you” for all of the things that God has done to even get me to this point.  I’ve had struggles, but I am beyond blessed.  Lastly, I’m going to allow God to exchange my worry for God’s peace that exceeds what I can understand.  Then, I’m gonna wipe my hands from my chicken wangz and pray I make it back into work on time.  Oh, and when I get inside, I’m going to wash my hands.  Coronavirus is amongst us. *smile*

Pray + Tell God What I Need + Thank God = Peace

Got it?

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris

Late, But On Time

A few things: I may have written something along the lines of this topic some years ago.  You should keep reading anyway.  I will probably get straight to the point today because I’m not sure how to stretch out these words nor do I wish to say more than I need to say.  You should keep reading anyway.  This may feel real motivational and Ted Talkish.  You should keep reading anyway.

| Late, But On Time |

My name is Christen Diane Rouson, and I am NOT a morning person.  Anyone who really knows me or works with me knows that to be true.  This isn’t to say that I am not pleasant in the morning, I am saying that I am a pure slug in the morning.  I could take my bath, iron my clothes, do my hair, pack my lunch, get dressed, and sleep in the car the night before, and I’ll still need 40 minutes to and hour to get ready!  Because I suffer from insomnia (trouble staying asleep and getting restful sleep), it takes almost an hour of snoozing plus the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to help me pry my eyes open and peel myself out of bed in the morning.  Typically, the first 15 minutes of my day move at snail’s pace, but once I’m up, I’m up.  Because I sleep until the very last minute and beyond, I place myself in jeopardy of leaving my house too late and being late to work almost daily.  Today was no different. 

Let me tell you a little story…

This morning, I snoozed and snoozed until what I deemed to be the appropriate time to wake up.  My clothes were already selected and my hair was already done, so all I needed to do was shower (no more than two songs on the playlist – that’s approximately 10 minutes), throw on the clothes that were already laid out, throw my lunch in my lunch box and go.  Though a debate over two pairs of almost identical gold, hoop earrings and my ill-timed desire to stack the dishes that needed to be washed and soak a pan slowed me down, I made it out of the door only a few minutes behind my deadline.  “I’m gone be on time for work today!”  I praised God and patted myself on the back for that modern day miracle.  As I was heading down the highway, I saw one of the VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) signs that said something like, “Accident on I-664 at I-264 interchange.”  Dang it.  That was right before my exit, and that accident was bound to rain on my parade.  Though I saw the sign, I didn’t know how long ago the accident occurred and how I would be affected by it.  I started bargaining with myself that maybe by that point it was almost cleared and it wouldn’t slow me down.  I was optimistic that God would honor my efforts to be on time today and not allow this accident to hinder me.  Then I had to throw on brakes.  We were slowing down.  We were moving, but we were slowing down.  “I’m going to be late.”  I looked at my the clock: 8:15 a.m.  I looked at my phone’s GPS: 21 minutes to work.  It was settled, I would be approximately six minutes late, and it wouldn’t be my fault this time.  Frustrated, I began fussing at myself for not looking at my GPS earlier so that I could have gone another way and avoided this delay, but beating myself up wouldn’t solve anything.  I was in the thick of things by this point, and the only option was to keep it moving.  I got off on the exit right before the accident – one exit before my assigned exit – and sought another way to get to work.  “Know more than one way to get where you’re going,” is what my daddy used to say.  I tried to estimate my time of arrival based on what time it was and where I was at that time.  8:25 a.m.  One thing was for sure: I wasn’t going to make it there by 8:30, but I’d make it there.  I whipped my car in the parking lot, rushed into the building with my stilettos quickly clacking against the tiled floor, and I scurried to the time clock as if I were rushing to the finish line.  8:37 a.m.  I made it.

I made it.  I was late, but I was on time.

Let me explain: the time clocks here work in 15 minute increments.  As long as I clock in within 7 minutes of my scheduled time, I am considered on time (according to KRONOS timekeeping system).  If I clock in 8 minutes after my scheduled time, I am considered 15 minutes late.  I clocked in at 8:37 a.m. which meant I was late but still on time because I had a grace period.  *insert ugly cry and a full fledged Baptist fit although I was raised Holy Ghost filled Pentecostal*

Ladies and gentlemen, life is filled with unexpected obstacles.  When we set out to accomplish a goal, live out our purpose, fulfill an assignment or walk in our destiny, we don’t fully factor in “life happening” because we don’t even know how to.  The truth about my journey this morning is I had no way of knowing that the two motorists, who had embarked on the highway much sooner than I did, would collide.  That accident had nothing to do with my timing, my skill or speed of driving, or even my attentiveness to what was happening on the road.  The accident had NOTHING to do with me but affected me and my journey just the same.  My mother once told me that her mother would say, “The choices you make don’t just affect you but those around you too.”  Though I am certain those two motorists didn’t plan to collide, slow traffic, and make dozens or more people late this morning, their choices affected everyone driving on 664 this morning.  I was late because of them, BUUUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTTTTT I was on time because of grace.  I’d like to submit that you too are the direct benefactors of grace.  You may be stuck behind, delayed by, or even turned around because of some obstacle or occurrence that you are not responsible for, and it may even seem that your estimated time of arrival has now adjusted to a time that is later than you’d hoped for.  Though that may be true, my friends, I have two guarantees for you: 

1. You will arrive

2. You may be late, but you’ll be on time.

I believe that God has reserved a grace especially for you that will enable you to be where you need to be so that you can still do what you need to do.

This hiccup this morning became especially encouraging to me as I have been taking a hard look at my life among some major transitions and asking God how I’m going to get where I’m supposed to be (destiny) and do what I’m supposed to do (purpose) if things seem to be getting off track.  I’d like to assure you with the reassurance that God gave me in clapback form (because that’s how God talks to me)…

God: You’ll be fine, girl.

Just like that, God got me together.  God is not moved by the things that move us.  God knew the end from the beginning and definitely has already calculated your missteps as well as the missteps of others that would impede upon your progress.  So if you are wondering how you are going to get “there” on time with all that’s ahead of you, I have one word for you: GRACE.  Those 7 minutes gave me just enough time to be on time even though I was late.

God’s grace is going provide just what you need to be where you need to be when you need to be there.  You’ll be late, but on time. 

P.S.  we don’t really know God’s timing anyway…

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris

 

To the Women I Love…

I sat on the couch opposite my therapist staring at my wringing hands.  “Two weeks ago made ten years since my mother died.  Next week will make a year since my mother-in-law died.  Some days I don’t feel that I’ve fully processed that,” I said.  My eyes lifted to find her smiling brightly at me, and she met my confession with the challenge, “Honor their lives through your life.”

| To the Women I Love |

Today’s blog will be a little different from what I normally share, but this is what is truly on my heart and what I desire to say.  Now more than ever, I strive to only say what I mean.

January 26, 2010 – the day my mother passed away.

February 17, 2019 – the day my mother-in-law passed away.

These two dates have been two of the most significant days of my short life and forever etched in my history because they mark at least two times that it felt as if my world ceased to revolve around the sun and rotate on its axis.  On those two days, it seemed as if my heart stopped as well, even if for a moment.  It is no secret how much I loved (love) my mother and how adulthood (the brief portion I spent with her) allowed us to become best friends.  Before she passed, we reached a point where I felt as if she was one of the only people who truly understood me.  Maybe that’s because we were (are) more alike than I realized.  Ironically, I walk like her, I now say many of the things she used to say, and if you close your eyes as I speak in church, you may just hear a bit of Christina coming out of my mouth.  I’d like to think I have my mother’s empathic heart and inability to hate people – which I’ve found to be a blessing a curse (smirk).  Just the same, I believe I inherited her “take no nonsense, I’ll set you straight if I need to” nature that dwelled just beside her nature to be a peace maker/keeper.  She was such a wonderful paradox!  Losing my mother made me feel like I lost a part of myself… a part that I have been trying to find over the last decade.  Interestingly enough, I have indeed found bits and pieces of my mother tucked into the corners of my being.  As I have evolved and developed, I have seemingly revealed Christina within Christen.  You know how people say clichés like, “Your love one will always live on in your heart”?  In my case, I’ve found that to be true though it once sounded farfetched.  The discovery that my life is more than just a reflection of my mother’s but in some ways built of the foundation of her essence coupled with the gift of time, I have been able to properly and healthily grieve the loss of my mother.

I can’t say the same for my mother-in-law.

I met Margaret Everett on May 12, 2006.  It was my senior prom and my boyfriend’s 18th birthday.  My boyfriend – her son – and I had been secretly dating for over a year.  It wasn’t a secret to any of our friends at school or our peers at work.  I guess it really wasn’t a secret at all, I just didn’t have her blessing for one reason or another.  As I exited the After Prom following a full night of dancing, laughing, eating, and taking pictures with her son, the same son that I had shared classes with and had even worked shifts with at Old Navy, I bumped in to Margaret.  Despite it being after midnight, she patiently waited for me on a bench near the exit, and my heart began racing at the sight of her.  I just knew I’d get a tongue lashing for going to prom with her son behind her back.  We had matching outfits, took two sets of prom pictures, and even coordinated our arrivals.  He pulled up in his mother’s Chrysler 300 blasting Kanye West Touch the Sky, and I followed behind him in my mother’s Jaguar blasting Common’s Go.  We were so cheesy back then, and it makes me smile just thinking about it.  Seeing Margaret waiting for me reeled me in from the LaLa Land that I had floated around all night long.  She asked me to come sit beside her on the bench, introduced herself as I didn’t know who she was, and then she did something that I never expected.  Margaret Everett apologized to and accepted me.  And the rest is history…literally.  The next week I began coming to her home after school daily to spend time with my boyfriend.  To my surprise, more than being cuddled up with him, many days I’d be in the kitchen or watching a TV show or cracking jokes with her too.  I developed a love and respect for her that I hadn’t imagined, and the love stood the test of my failed marriage to her son.  Even after he passed away some years later, we held a place in each other’s hearts.  She never stopped calling me her daughter, and she never made me feel like I didn’t belong.  I’d still come over to watch TV with her and eat her good cooking.  She’d still text me to “check in” or ask me the name of a song with only four or five of the lyrics.  Then our time together dwindled because I was in school.  I know it’s no excuse…I’ve beat myself up every way possible.  Though our communication never stopped, I wasn’t around as much to pop in or watch TV, and before I knew it, she was gone.  One year later, I still struggle with that.  I still carry guilt that I wasn’t there like I should have been.  I haven’t processed the fact that Meme is gone.  Unlike the decade without my mother that has brought acceptance and even peace, these past 368 days since Margaret left have not provided that for me.  My heart is still just as broken.

As tears streamed down my face and as I explained the voids that I felt because the only two official mothers I ever had were gone, she asked me a series of questions.  “What were your favorite things to do with these women?  What would you laugh or talk about?  Were there any special places you would go together?  What are some things these women are remembered for?”  After a few scattered answers, she encouraged me to do some of those things and go some of those places in their honor.  Furthermore, she challenged me to honor their lives through mine…to not let them die as long as I live.

With that in mind, I write this:

To the Women I Love,

Thank you.  In the both of you, I have found a love that is irreplaceable and unconditional.  You have seen me for who I am, and you have chosen to love both the best and worst parts of me.  There was never a minute that I felt far from you heart or beyond the scope of your prayers.  One of your greatest gifts to me, beyond the direct effects of your care for me, was the blessing of watching how you loved others.  Whether through your home cooked meals that seemed to feed small armies, the random gifts that you gave away, the time that you opened your home so people could find safety, the way you lent your ear to anyone who needed to share, or the security that was released when one hugged you, you two were the epitome of God’s love.  In honor of the lives that you lived for 52 and 60 years, I seek to continue to love others the way that you loved…the way that God loved.

There will forever be a space in my heart that is reserved especially for you.  Though I will shed tears and even wrestle to understand, I can confidently say that best parts of you still live within me.  Thank you for being you.  I’ll forever love you with my whole heart.

Your Daughter

Grief

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris

 

Seasons End.

After months of being semi-ghosted or at least given the chilliest cold shoulder I’d ever endured, I sought understanding.  What had I done?  What did I need to apologize for, because I was willing.  In place of an explanation, I heard, “Our season has ended.”

| Seasons End. |

I have had many relationships, both romantic and platonic, end in my almost 32 years.  Some ended in a blazing fire where I had to run for my life.  I’ve had some end with a dagger in my heart and ambulance sirens blaring in the distance.  A few concluded with me tearfully shutting the door against my own will as means to finally protect and heal my heart.  And then there’s this.  “Our season has ended.”  To be honest, I had no clue how to process those words.  What I was expecting to hear, after politely confronting this individual who had ghosted me, were reasons why I was being treated this way straight from the horses mouth instead of the ambiguous hearsay of mutual friends.  I wanted to know why someone I was close to couldn’t even find words for me.  Truth is, there were words… “Our season has ended.”

For the next four months, I found myself not only grieving a relationship that had ended, but in a daily war with myself.  For much of my adult life, I have been a people pleaser,  and it seems to be second nature now.  Because of that, I will typically sweep what I deserve and need under the rug for the sake of making or keeping peace.  What I deserved and needed from this individual was an apology – for being ghosted, for being talked about behind my back, for the toxic, unwarranted silent treatment I was receiving, and for being shut out without at least knowing why.  I’d find myself wrestling with the idea of reaching out one more time – just in case the two olive branches I had already extended weren’t enough – and standing my ground that if that individual wanted to make things right, I’d need a branch extended to me this time.  I remember days tearfully sitting in front of my therapist explaining that though I was not perfect, I was at least a good to that individual.  Whatever I’d done wrong, I wanted to fix it.  We’d had good times, and I missed them.  With a broken heart, I’d admit that I was hurting and I couldn’t figure out why.

As long as I tried to force things after the season had ended, I remained in a perpetual cycle of disappointment and pain.

A few moons ago, I shared the blog Seasons Change: For Me vs. With Me, and I’d like to reiterate the example I used in that blog.  There are some things that may be an asset to you in one season that can hurt you in the next.  In the winter time, on a 30 degree day, it is reasonable for you to wear hat, gloves, and a heavy coat.  All of those things protect you from the elements around you and help to keep you from getting sick.  They are exactly what you need for that time.  Fast forward two seasons to the dead of summer’s 87 degree days with a heat index of 103.  That heavy coat as well as your hat and gloves will earn you a one way ambulance ride to the emergency room.  The same items that shielded you from sickness in the winter time can be the cause of your sickness in the summer time.  At some point you’ll have to adjust to the season change.

As it relates to my former relationship, I found myself hurting daily until I began to accept that the season had indeed ended.  I was reserving expectations for this individual only to be disappointed because the season had ended.  I created moments to converse with this individual only to be treated like a stranger because the season had ended.  I kept holding out for an apology that I’d probably never receive because the season had ended.  That expectation, the extra attempts, and my need for an apology were hurting me because they were things that would have normally occurred within the confines of the prior season… the season that ended.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

I’m sure you’re wondering how I could possibly pull a moral from all of that.  Thanks to therapy, prayer, seeing things for what they truly are, and washing my hands of the situation, I have a moral.  Here are some things I have done to cope with a season that abruptly ended that may help you too:

  1. If you can, make a list of and appreciate all the things that you loved about the season.  For you to be upset that it is ending means there was some good within it.  Maybe the season forced you to grow.  Maybe the season provided a way of escape from the one before that.  Whatever was good about that season, cherish it.
  2. Grieve.  Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel without interruption.  In my case, I didn’t know what I may have done to contribute to the ending of the season, so I felt like I didn’t have a right to grieve.  Even if you feel like me and you aren’t sure whether or not it was your fault, know that loss hurts no matter what kind of loss it is, and we are allowed to miss what we once had and probably loved.
  3. Prepare you heart for something new.  It may not be the same, there may be loads of uncertainty, and you may even have to deconstruct the wall that you’ve built around your heart and expectations, but allow yourself to move on to what’s next.

What is guaranteed is you will never end one season without beginning another.  The ending of one season ushers you directly into the next, and then the conditions adjust to the changing of the season.  If you are caught in the middle of the transition feeling the loss of the last season, know that very soon you will reap the joy of the new season that is already upon your life.

Today, many tears and much acceptance later, I am grateful for the end because it was the announcement of a new beginning.  I’ll cry about that ending again later… or maybe not.

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris

 

Found

Nestled in the safety of my four-door sedan, parked outside of my home, I wept.  A glance in the review mirror was only a metaphorical confirmation for what I felt internally: I wasn’t myself.  Who was this woman staring back at me in the mirror?  Whose life was I living?  Whose body was it that housed my soul?  What happened to my soul?   What happened to me?

| Lost & Found |

I so desperately want to write eloquently.  I want to follow a format and find the perfect colloquialisms.  I want this blog – the first in five months – to prove that I haven’t missed a beat.  …but I have.  Somewhere along the way, I missed a beat, a step, and eventually I missed myself.  A rift with a friend morphed into a permanent silent treatment.  Not feeling well turned into a painful diagnosis and a bit of hopelessness.  The wrong move resulted in an anxiety-filled existence, and eventually my life spiraled and spiraled until it looked nothing like it did before.  What was most appalling was how I spiraled and spiraled until I was unrecognizable.  I traded genuine smiles and laughs for tears.  My joy and peace were hostages of anxiety and depression.  I began hating the life I lived and begging God to shower me with any kind of relief.  I was living a new normal… one that I hadn’t asked for.

To be honest, I don’t feel like swimming in despair and wallowing in the lows of life.  I lived through those lows for months on end, and I’m tired of them.  The point that I seek to get across is that somewhere in that pile of burning rubble, I got lost.  I felt like I was rocked to my core.  I didn’t feel like myself, and I felt I was living the life of a stranger.  Worse than that, I felt as if the people around me could see the difference in me.  I thought they could see the slight crack in my smile or hear the subtle tremble in my voice.  I thought that if they looked intently enough, they could see the glare in my eyes and the emptiness behind it.  Day after day, I cried and prayed and begged God to allow me to be me again.  I just wanted to be the confident, charismatic, and optimistic Christen who I once was.  I didn’t want to have a chip on my shoulder, an ache in my heart, anxiety and unrest that made me feel unsafe, or embarrassing scars that I felt everyone could see.  “Who the hell am I now?  Where the hell am I now?” screamed my inner thoughts.  Those thoughts resonated until I could feel them in my fingers, toes, and everything in between.

I was lost.

Something to note:  though I had hit what seemed to by lowest point in a very long time, and even though I had moments where I was upset with God, I never stopped praying.  I never stopped asking God to help me.  Truth is, I don’t really know who or what to turn to other than God, and at this point, God is my only option.  If it can’t work with God, it won’t work.  I’ve seen God do so much for me, and I figured at some point God would do something even if it wasn’t what I wanted.  That is at the core of my belief.

Somewhere in the middle of trying to find my lost self, I found me.

| Found |

She looked in the mirror and examined the woman who stared back at her.  She wasn’t very familiar with this being, but she liked her.  She was strong and confident.  She had a voice and used it.  She was resilient, prayerful, and discerning.  She was everything she’d hoped to be despite all that she was forced to be for far too long.

Somewhere in the middle of trying to find my lost self, I found me.

Anxiety taught me how to pray.  Heartbreak taught me how to appreciate those who truly valued me.  Rock bottom taught me how to climb.  A life shaking diagnosis taught me how to value my body and take care of it.  Being taken advantage of me taught me how to make self care non-negotiable.  Wanting to die taught me how to embrace everyday of life and LIVE in every single area of my life.

My lowest point produced my best self, and she is more than I could have ever imagined. I spent the last four months so hellbent on trying to figure out what the hell happened to the woman I once was and how I could get that woman back, that I failed to acknowledge the new woman I was becoming.  I WAS BECOMING!  While I was “lost,” I made some of my most life changing decisions and learned to follow the voice of God in a greater way.  In that time, I embraced the glory of my womanism on a higher level and found strength in the women before me who looked like me and overcame.  Because I was forced to write again, my creativity – which had become completely dormant – was unlocked in a magical way, and I found validation in knowing my voice and words had the power to heal, encourage, and even change people.  While being found, I accepted the woman who God created AND has been continuously using despite her (my) own frailties and flaws. I’ve accepted that many things about the woman I am now may not resemble the woman I once was.  I loved her, but I’m not her.

Though I hoped to say more, that’s all I have to say, and I’m learning not to force words that aren’t there.  The moral of the story is my lowest points allowed me to find my greatest self, and I love her.

I have mourned/am mourning what was lost, and I choose to celebrate the possibilities locked within the woman I have become.  I am a new creature.  Old things have passed away, and all things have been made new.  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Cheers to my future. Cheers to me never shrinking again or at least not without a fight.  Cheers to me fully embodying God’s grace and walking forward in my purpose.  Cheers to you loving and learning from the new me.  What’s ahead of me is better than what’s behind.

More blogs soon.  Maybe they’ll be like the old ones… maybe not.

I hope this helps. I love you with my whole heart, and I mean it.
-Chris 

 

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

It’s been too long, and I have absolutely missed writing and sharing with you.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I posted a blog…maybe a month ago?  Sheesh!  Too much time has elapsed.  The truth is, I have been writing here and there, and in some cases, I would get to “The Moral of the Story” and decide that I wasn’t going to post.  In my head, the blog wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t getting to my point fast enough, or maybe my point wasn’t strong enough.  Over the last few years I’ve established a format for my writing:  I share my story, make it relative so you are included, then I end by sharing something positive.  I try to help us find the bright side so that we are empowered, strengthened, and encouraged.  Lately, I haven’t felt like I could accomplish that, so I haven’t shared anything at all.  I wanted my blogs to be polished and as close to my version of perfect as possible, and even now I feel like all of my recently saved drafts have missed that mark.

Let me add, for those who don’t know, I tend to be a perfectionist, and I am very critical of myself and my work.

If I am accepting that this blog doesn’t have to be perfect, then it at least has to be honest.  Here goes…

The way that I feel about my blogs is a metaphor for how I feel about my life…that I have in some way missed the mark.

I turned 31 last Friday, and enjoyed THE best birthday weekend that I can recall in my 31 years of life.  I had no issues celebrating my proverbial turning of the page to a new chapter.  What I did have a hard time celebrating were the “words” written on the pages of my 30th chapter.  Looking from a broad scope, year 30 was good to me.  I completed cosmetology school, I redefined my friendships and am now blessed to have one of the healthiest friendships I’ve ever had, my credit score increased by 80 points or so,  I was introduced to the possibility of being a homeowner, I served on a staff development council for my school division, I embraced womanism, I rediscovered who I was and learned to choose me, I became a bit selfish, and I found God in a new way.  30 was lit!  30 was so good to me that I almost didn’t want to turn 31, but I didn’t want to die either, so there’s that…  Anyway, with the good comes the bad so that we will have balance.  I have had some health challenges that put me a little too close to checking out than I would have liked, I watched some close relationships dissolve like a sugar cube in a hot cup of tea, I found myself feeling indifferent towards my job, areas of work that once brought me joy were stressing me out, and too often I felt behind, stuck, and unproductive.  I reached a point recently where I was so stressed out that I could barely sleep through the night and would cry in random places at random times including but not limited to the pharmacy.  As well as Chapter 30 read, the story didn’t match the draft that I had written, and the closer got to my 31st birthday, the more reflective I became – per usual.  In that time I discovered I loved my life but was dissatisfied with the some of the details within it.  By now I imagined I’d have more money in my savings account, my credit score would have continued to jump in high increments, I would have lost weight, I’d be taking one less prescription pill, I’d be a licensed cosmetologist (because I still haven’t taken those exams), and I would have become a business owner adding a few extra dollars to my bank account each month.  I figured my life would be on a better track especially since I’ve sacrificed so much and worked so hard over the last few years.  Well, those things still haven’t happened, and as much as I want to celebrate what I have done, I often cry over the things I haven’t.  It’s like I’ve done all of this, but I still haven’t gotten to the point – whatever that is.  I told you I am very critical of myself and my work.

So 31 has come, and I haven’t accomplished all those things in the last six days.  If I’m honest with myself, I’m not going to accomplish those things within the next six days either.  I literally have to take life one day at a time and accept that it doesn’t have to be exactly what I want it to be.  Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

After my major transitions of 2017 and 2018, I assumed that I wouldn’t have to endure another transition for some time.  TRANSITION SUCKS!  After what I endured a couple of years ago, I didn’t want to be that stressed, cry that much, be filled with worry, and go through so many changes again.  Fast forward the clock to 2019, and I am once again smack dab in another transition…and I hate it.  So in a nutshell, that’s why I haven’t shared as much.  Too many of my waking moments are consumed with trying to figure out my next step or trying to readjust my current move.  I spend too much time attempting to calculate how much living this life and trying to be who/what I’m supposed to be is going to cost me.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is exhausting.

Quick story… This is a excerpt from the blog I was supposed to post last week.

I came to work exhausted but excited that today is my Friday.  Though I don’t have any concrete birthday plans, I’m just excited that my birthday is in less than 17 hours.  A coworker walked into my office and interrupted my litany of thoughts with her salutation.  This particular coworker isn’t one to speak and keep it moving.  No!  This lady will pull up the chair that you didn’t offer and engage in a conversation that you didn’t request.  Because she is likely 25 years my senior, I respectfully obliged as she talked herself into a whirlwind of excitement…alone.  A conversation that began about boxes morphed into the projected pleasant weather which allowed me an opportunity to mention my upcoming birthday.  I find every reason to mention my birthday.  *smile*  She seemed equally as excited as I was and proceeded to ask me how old I will turn.  “31,” I said with a hint of disappointment.  My mind immediately began reeling with the plethora of goals that I didn’t cross of my list by the deadline: my 31st birthday.  I began counting all of the things that I had lost or still hadn’t acquired though I assumed that by July 26th at 31 years old I would.  Again she interrupted my thoughts and said, “I’m so proud of you.”  I swear it was as if a record abruptly scratched on its player and the room grew awkwardly silent.  As if she could sense my confusion, she began listing off MY accomplishments to me.  “You put yourself through cosmetology school and made it out all while still working a full time job and doing whatever else you do.  You know you do a lot, girl – plays and hair and this and that…  You’re doing well for yourself!  And just think, soon you’re going to open that salon you want and find that cash cow.  You’re going to be making good money because you’re good at what you do and you chose something you like.  You’ve done well.  You’re on your way.”  I thanked her as she turned to walk away.  Before she made it completely out of my line of vision she turned back to me and said, “Just be still.  It will all be fine.”

*sigh*

Here’s what I should have said last week about that exchange…

God sent her into my office to tell me two words, “Be still.” 

Some of the things that I have lived through were completely out of my control, some things were reactions to what I couldn’t control, and other things were the direct results of bad decisions.  Regardless of the cause, I cannot stop anything that has happened from happening.  It’s done.  However, I can waste precious time and kill my joy by comparing my reality to my expectations.  (I think I’ll blog about that one day.)  I can mistreat my gift of right now trying to manipulate time, come up with plans, and end up in a frustrated stupor because I want things to be perfect right now.  Anyone who knows me knows that I hate processes, and I can be impatient.  Well guess what life guarantees?  You’re going to go through something, and you’re going to have to wait.  While I am waiting, I need to be still.  Be still?  I’ve been fidgety all of my life.  Be still and do what though?

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Psalm 46:10 [King James Version]

I like that in the Contemporary English Version is says, “Calm down.”  I definitely feel like my clap-back version of God is like, “Aye, chill out.  Calm down, yo.  I got you!”

This psalm begins by saying, “God is our refuge and strength; and ever present help in the time of trouble.”  After telling us how well God can take care of us in a myrad of situations, we are told to, “Be still and know that I am God.”  In this psalm, right smack dab in the middle of what seems to be a sucky situation, God is like, “Yo!  Chill out, bruh!  Dang!”

Last week I had a Come-to-Jesus meeting with myself where I yoked myself up by my collar; God didn’t have to do it this time.  The conversation was as follows:

Me: Christen, if you are so discontent with ______________________, change it!  Do your part and try something else.

Me: But what if it doesn’t work out?  What if I’m stuck with this?  This is too much.

Me: Hasn’t God taken care of you through worse?  Oh, okay.  Chill out.  Do your part.  Trust God.  Periodt!

The end.

I’m doing the most comparing where I thought I should be to were I am, trying to make everything just right, not enjoying today because I’m trying to figure out tomorrow.  I’ve been cumbered about with many things!  The word for this season is BE STILL!

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

…if there has to be one.

Chill out.  Life and everything that pertains to it will never be perfect.  You’ll always feel like there are things that could be different or better.  There will always be a part of you that wants to rush ahead to the good (or better) part.  Live today all the way out then see what tomorrow holds.  If you can make changes, do that.  If you can’t change anything about your circumstance, change your perspective.  Trust that God -who has BEEN taking care of you – won’t stop working things together for your good.  That’s it…good.  Even when it’s not perfect, it can still be good.

This was probably a jumbled mess of rambling, and I was talking directly to myself the whole time.  I hope it spoke to you too.

I hope this helps.
-Chris

 

Nah.

I’m feeling silly today…

| Nah. |

You ever look back a phase of your life and say to yourself, “Whew!  I’m glad I’m over that?”  I have had my fair share of What in the Blue Hell Was I thinking moments.

I have made some of the worst mistakes in my almost 31 years.  But what tops that is the fact that I have made some of the DUMBEST choices in my almost 31 years.  Y’all, I could be inducted into the Idiots Hall of Fame for some of my choices that made absolutely NO sense whatsoever!  (I was clapping my hands between each syllable of whatsoever.)  Like most people, I was completely clueless of the magnitude of stupidity that I was engrossed in because I was in an oblivion…  I mean I was just lost – gone in LaLa Land floating on cotton candy clouds and doodling in my Lisa Frank spiral notebook.  *shaking my head*  I was too intelligent to be so durn dumb.

So here it is, I was chitting and chatting with a home girl of mine about life, kids, relationships, and growing older (since we both had approaching birthdays), and I said the following statement that changed the trajectory of our conversation:

“Growing older and not running behind people who ain’t shiiiiiiiiiii have been the best things that have happened to me.”

For the extra saved folk, don’t worry – I only typed “shiiiiiiiiiii” and not the real word.  Oh, and another word replaced “people,” but I’ll keep that between me and my home girl.  And yet, I’m still saved.

I went on to say,

” I didn’t realize how much time, energy, sleep, joy, peace, and the rest of my spiritual fruit cocktail I was wasting clinging to the words of people (not just guys) who had no intention of being integral.  I was pouring into colanders!”

For those who don’t know that a colander is, it is basically a bowl with holes meant for draining.  …I’ll let that last part sink in.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s blog is all about being committed to something or someone who isn’t committed to you which results in you looking DUMB in the end.  This is not limited to romantic relationships with scrubs.

As defined by the singing group, TLC:

scrub – /skrəb/ – noun:
  1. A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly
  2. Also known as a buster
  3. Always talking bout what he wants
  4. Just sits on his broke *expletive*

In my humble opinion, a woman can be a scrub as well.

I once had this “thing” with this dude that lasted about seven months.  Initially, I didn’t want any thing serious with him.  I’ll be transparent enough to admit that I just wanted a buddy of the cuddy persuasion and nothing more.  That didn’t work out.  In time, our friendtuationship morphed into a situationship although I began to develop an unrealistic desire for a real relationship.  (I hope I didn’t lose you.)  In layman’s terms, I didn’t want anything from him, he promised me a bunch of junk that I probably wanted on a subconscious level, then he failed to deliver.  The unadulterated truth is he didn’t deliver because he never intended to, AND I knew he had no intentions of it.  In reality, and mean this in the most humble way possible, he was bit beneath me.  I don’t mean that in any pompous way because I’m just a nobody trying to tell anybody about somebody who changed my life.  What I am saying is he reaped as many benefits as possible by being attached to me, he accepted the rewards that came with being connected to The Rousons, and he found a way to use all of my gifts to his advantage.  He didn’t match my hustle and he was a SCRUB – refer to the aforementioned definition.  Y’all, I was going to bat for that boy, bickering with other women over him, defending him when he was wrong as two left shoes, and sprinkling glitter all over his life to make him seem so much more grandiose than he really was. When all was said and done, I couldn’t believe that I had gotten myself entangled in Charlotte’s web.  So the relevant question is, “Why in the blue hell did you stay so long, Chris?”  I stayed because I felt something was better than nothing even if that something sucked.  (Lord, I need to revisit that in another blog.)

I would like to submit my five reasons why I believe we put up with iishhhh, far longer than we really should:

1. We don’t think it can get any better than what we have. 

– This isn’t to say that we think we have the best.  This may simply suggest that we think we don’t deserve any better.  Being vulnerable and lonely can be contributing factors.  (That’s another blog for another day as well.)

2. We have become dependent on dysfunction.

– Believe it or not, some people are so acquainted with dysfunction that they cannot fathom or cope with anything besides chaos.  The dangerous part about an individual like that is he/she will either attract or create dysfunction to maintain a level of normalcy.

3. We commit to someone’s potential instead of his/her’s reality.

– I am guilty of this.  Instead of believing what we see, we choose to ascribe to what we are told.  Well, I don’t care how much a scrub says he’s going to be a millionaire.  If he “just sits on his broke ***,” then he is and will remain a scrub.  Periodt. 

4. We don’t trust that life will go on without __________ (fill in the blank).

– *rolls eyes*  When you get something that you’ve never had or always wanted, it’s easy to believe that you can’t live without it.  I’ve come to tell you, “Nah!”  Life has this tricky way of going on.  The clock keeps ticking, the world keeps rotating and revolving, and new normals are birthed.  There are literally only two options: find a way to embrace that and have the courage to move forward OR stay stuck.

And let me just add that I’ve found a way to live after some of my greatest losses – like my mother passing away.  Child, if I can live without my mama, you can live without your buster friends!

5. We have Superhero Syndrome.

– Hello.  My name is Christen, and I have Superhero Syndrome.

When one has Superhero Syndrome, he/she thrives on trying to solve problems and fix broken things, even when it is not his problem to fix.  The source of our pride lies within  how well we can save the day even if it is to our detriment.  The dangerous part about that is we can remain attached to something or someone who cannot or will not get any better but will continue to utilize our super powers to his/her advantage.

Alright…  At some point in the last year and some change, I woke the heck up!  I took an assessment of what I was investing my time, energy, sleep, joy, peace, and the rest of my spiritual fruit cocktail into, and I discovered that I was yet pouring into colanders!  I was running down behind people who ain’t shiiiiiiiiiii, and I was over it!  I accepted that I was entirely TOO OLD for that foolishness, and it had to stop.  Baby, I put an end to that!!!  I began the process of undoing somethings that were done, reclaiming my time, forgetting those things that were behind me, reaching for what was ahead, pressing toward the mark of the prize, removing my belief in empty promises, getting an extinguisher for the smoke screens, and walking the he..ck away!  I stopped making calls and even began ignoring a few.  I was done, and once I’m done, I’m done and done!!!  Tuh! 

When referencing this process with my home girl, I said, 

“I’m done with that phase of my life.  If I gotta seem standoffish, I’ll be that.  If I gotta seem selfish, I’ll be that.  I just refuse to keep choosing the same [kind of] people over and over and allowing them to manipulate me with a smile.  Tuh!”

Nah

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

“Nah.”  That is my response when asked if I’ll ever choose some of the people and things that I once chose.  That is my response when asked if I’ll stay in foolishness any longer than I already have.  That is my response when asked if I’ll ever be that chick again.  That is even my response when people come into my life pretending to be a well but they are really a drain or a best a colander.

At some point, you have to let the nah that you feel rising up in your spirit radiate through your life.  Don’t suppress that thing!!!  It isn’t enough to only grow older.  Baby, you gone have to cut off some things that are running the okie doke on you.  You’re getting too old to keep getting played, child.  At this point if you are aware of the no-gooders in your life and you continue to get hoodwinked, bamboozled, or run amuck, it’s your fault!  Do what you have to do to not end up looking like Boo Boo the Fool in the end when you have poured all of you into a situation that has a durn drain at the bottom.  It may make you look like you are changing up on people, and that’s fine!

Since I have decided that I was going to enjoy my metamorphosis as I journey through my 30s, I have been quite alright with ending stuff.  Just because I made a dumb decision at one point doesn’t mean I have to be married to it.  I have found a level of contentment in knowing that I am no longer living in LaLa Land floating on cotton candy clouds doodling in my Lisa Frank notebook while making one of the dumbest decisions of my life.  I sleep well at night knowing I’m neither running down behind nor pouring into SCRUBS!  I have discovered the value of not only my time, but my energy, sleep, joy, peace, and the rest of my spiritual fruit cocktail.  I’m sure I’ll make other mistakes, but reliving that phase of my life?  Nah!

I hope this helps.
-Chris

More Than One Way

 Frustrated, I lowered my head and let a few tears stream down my cheeks.  “This isn’t how I planned it,” I whispered as I considered how scrambled my plans had become.  What was once a clear road to success seemed congested detours, and uncertainty made me question if I’d arrive at all…

| More Than One Way |

This may seem like a fluid construction of random points, but just trust me.  It will all work together to make sense of what I want to convey. …I hope.

 – Know More Than One Way –

“Always know more than one way to get where you are going.”

– A. Ray Rouson, Sr.

(aka Pop – my dad)

 

Growing up, my father would religiously say the aforementioned quote to me and my brothers.  In the most practical sense, I correlated his life lesson with navigating  highways and back roads.  Ironically, when he first taught me that concept, I could not drive and didn’t even really know where my house was in relation to the city that I lived in.  My sense of direction really only kicked in once I started to drive and needed to know how to get not just get around my city, but the areas that surrounded it.  Let me further say, this concept made a lot of sense in the era of printing Map Quest directions, but I deemed this quote pointless once there was an upgrade to the GPS that could reroute you in the event of slowed traffic or a road closure.  Just by random exploration alone, I’ve learned what major streets connect and which back roads avoid traffic, yet I seem to quote my Pop almost every time I dip out of traffic to take an alternate route.

If that concept made so much sense in traffic, why wouldn’t I allow it make sense in life?

– The Path Isn’t Always Straight –

“The road to destiny isn’t always linear.  Sometimes, purpose takes you through setbacks, let downs, detours, and turnarounds – leaving you to feel like you’ve failed.  It’s here that you must choose: do you care for optics or obedience?  Forget what it ‘looks like,’ run YOUR race, and know that you are where you’re supposed to be.  You’re not late, you’re faithful.”

-Cedric Rouson

(aka my brother)

My brother posted that on his Facebook page today…how ironic.

One of the most frustrating things for me is a last minute change of plans.  In the past I have shared that as your resident control freak, I have a plan, a back-up, and a back-up for the back-up.  I leave nothing to chance, and I leave very little room for things to not go as I have predicted.  You would think at almost 31 years old, I would accept that I have NO control over the fine details of life.  Oh, it’s not that I don’t already know this – a few times around the Merry Go Round has gotten me together.  Moreover, it’s that I won’t allow this to click within my core.  Because I won’t embrace that even the most perfected plans are subject to change, then I feel like a failure when that very thing happens. 

If I can accept that my journey to physical destinations have delays, detours, and turnarounds, why won’t I allow my journey to fulfilling my purpose to have the same?

– Time Won’t Wait –

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This stopped me in my tracks yesterday.  A casual scroll through my Instagram feed suddenly became my wake up call.  I’m neither 100 percent sure who created this graphic nor certain who runs the IG page that posted it, but I felt like my best girl friend had snatched me by my wig, spun me around, pushed me against the wall, and with her finger wagging said, “Getchoself togetha, girl!” before returning to her chilled glass of wine.  Y’all, this post chin-checked me!

At the end of last year, I meticulously constructed a vision board for 2019.  Coupled with my ocular display of the goals that I would crush, I wrote out a few major things that I wanted to accomplish: finish cosmetology school, launch my business, lose [lots of] weight, get my credit together, move into a new house that I could call home until I was ready to purchase a home, and the list goes on.  As this year began, I felt as if I was crushing my goals one after the other, and I was unstoppable…until I wasn’t.  What I didn’t account for was a change of plans.  Just one – ONE – adjustment to the plan  seemingly changed everything, and before long I became frustrated and seemingly stagnant.  The problem is I only considered one way to get to my goal – of course it was my way – and I was too frustrated to consider other options.

January to June… I’m almost to the middle of the year, and the rapid check marks on my goal sheet came to an abrupt halt months ago.  Truthfully, the more time passed the more rooted in my rut I became.  Over the last month or so, I have found myself so discontent with my progress because things just aren’t going the way I thought they would, and I’m running out of time – at least according to the calendar year.  It’s not that great things haven’t been happening to me or that I’m not progressing at all.  I can’t even say that the change of plans was a bad thing…it was actually amazing, it just forced me to take a route that I wasn’t prepared for at a rate that is slower than I assumed.  So here I am half-way through the sixth month of the year questioning the purpose and plans that I thought were certain for my 2019.

“I just can’t give up now.  I’ve come too far from where I started from.  Nobody told me the road would be easy, and I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me.”

– Mary Mary (Original version recorded by James Cleveland)

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

I believe the primary source of my frustration has been the deception that after struggling, working, transitioning, and trying for so long, this is it As arrogant as this may sound, after the last 12 years of my life, I deserve to see a measure of success.  All of these detours and roadblocks causing me to slow my pace feels like failure.  This wasn’t the kind of turnaround that I was expecting.  In a conversation with a friend, who was a bit too matter-of-fact for my liking, he basically told to me to get myself together and figure out another way to get to my destiny.  With a road block, you don’t change your destination, you change your direction.  Whew!

Yesterday, I took out a sheet of paper and wrote down my goals again.  This time I wrote them from the perspective that I am not in control of the changes along the path, but I am in control of whether or not I actually walk out the journey to completion.  Once I changed my perspective, God allowed me to comprise a new course of action.  Then by no coincidence, God directed me to the website and Instagram page of a woman who offered inspiration.  Lastly, there was reassurance… God didn’t make a brand new way to leave me stuck where I was.  He’s not only the God who gave me this purpose, he’s the also the God who make sure I fulfill it.  (Philippians 1:6)

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How this all ties in…

Time has no intention of slowing down, and there is no guarantee that the road will be easy.  Even when you are in the will of God and following Him to fulfill your purpose, there will be some hiccups.  Yup, you can be a believer and still not have an easily paved journey…that’s why we have to walk by faith and trust God.  Though we are shocked by the twists and turns along the way, he’s already aware and has made a new way.  It is our job to embrace that there is more than one way to get where he wants to take us.  There’s no guarantee that the new way will be quicker or easier, but at least we aren’t stuck without another option.  We can’t be so committed to our plan that we don’t continue on our path.

This isn’t it.  You didn’t fight this hard to lose here.  As a matter of fact, you’ve worked too hard to quit here.  Don’t allow unexpected circumstances make you forget why you’re on this journey and where you are going.  Even if it’s not your way, there’s more than one way.  <— I was talking directly to myself.

I hope this helps.
-Chris