I anxiously stood by the time clock occasionally glancing to check the time. I was only one minute away from one of my greatest accomplishments. After a treacherous 60 seconds which felt more like an eternity, I positioned my hand in the holster of the time clock ready to do what I had done four nights a week for the past 22 months. After a push of a few buttons and the lifting of my hand, I heard for the last time, “Successful verification.” I had done it… I finished.
If you have been following my blogs for some time, at least for the last few weeks, you know that I had been pressing to the finish line of cosmetology school. Well, I am pleased to announce that as of 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, that journey is complete! I couldn’t be happier. I tried my hardest to choose a different topic to write about today, but it only seemed natural that I share the revelation of one of my greatest moments with you all who have, in some ways, been on this journey with me. I will do my level best to be brief today. I know I said that last week, but I really mean it this week.
(I just deleted a paragraph of fluff, by the way. I’m trying!)
This has been one of the most rewarding and challenging journeys that I have ever embarked upon. Quite a few of my previous blogs chronicle my long days, restless nights, tired body, failing social life, and hard pushes to keep it moving. This last month has proven to be the most difficult month of all for me. I set a goal that I wanted to finish school before January ended, and by the grace of God, I did just that. Ironically, though I could finally see the finish line when I began this last month of classes, I was almost too tired to get there. My only motivation was the commitment that I made to myself to finish this month, so I took two extra classes each week and pushed my already tired body to the to limits that may have been unhealthy. Somewhere near the middle of the month, I began bargaining with myself that maybe finishing before February wasn’t that big of a deal. I was too exhausted and burnt out to finish, then grace kicked in.
As of Sunday, I have committed to going to the gym…again…for the third time. I walked in with my home girls, and we immediately began scoping out the unoccupied machines and developing a plan to get the best workout. First, we I climbed on some machine that killed my legs – I don’t even know how I’ve been walking all week. Next up was the stair climber thingy in which I walked up 13 flights of stairs in five minutes, then the treadmill, and lastly we did reps on a few weightlifting machines. Okay, let me just say I still have the activities of my limbs only by the grace of God. Ugh! Anyway, we set a goal of ten minutes on each machine besides the stair climber, and we decided to do four rounds of 15-20 reps when weightlifting. In every instance, I found myself pushed to the limit just as I was about three minutes or three reps away from my goal. I would slow down, release a sound of agony, and whine about wanting to quit…every single time. It seemed like my girls (who go to the gym regularly) were breezing through their reps while I was barely making it. I mean I was hanging on a wing and a prayer. I was at the end of my rope. Bruh, my eyes had seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. (Okay, enough, Chris. You’re being dramatic.) Seeing them barely breaking a sweat while I was desperately in need of an IV drip of fluids and electrolytes only made me more frustrated with the pain I was feeling and the remainder of the task ahead of me. Then out of seemingly nowhere, I remembered that I was too close to the goal to stop, so I pushed to the end. As I saw it, finishing tired was better than stopping full of potential.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a second wind is defined as renewed energy or endurance.
In an example, it states, “ He suddenly got his second wind and was able to complete the project on time. “
I have been singing since I was a very little girl, I joined the choral program in the eighth grade and continued through high school, and I now lead the Worship and Fine Arts department at my church. One of the techniques that I have taught my singers is how to successfully hold a note for an extended amount of time. I’ve shown them how to properly breathe and explained what will and won’t cause air to escape too soon. One of the most important things that I have taught them is that just when they think they are about to run out of air, it is as if there is metaphorical separate chamber within their diaphragm that will give them one last push to hold the note until the phrase is complete. Another example is my brother’s Mercedes-Benz. He once told me that these cars are built with a reserve tank. Once the fuel reserve indicator light comes on, the car begins burning the remaining 2.1 gallons of gas in said tank. It isn’t an exact science as to how far this will get you, but I reckon that it just may be enought to get you to either your destination or a place where you can refuel. In essence, it won’t leave you stranded where you are. In both cases, just when you are about to run out, you discover that there is a little more left. Furthermore, you don’t tap into your reserve until you need it.
*Starts singing, “Just when I need him… He steps in just when I need him most.”*
About a week out from graduation, I needed my extra chamber of air, my reserve tank, my second wind…my grace to finish. God supernaturally held me up until he endowed me with the strength to stand up on my own again and move forward.
My dear friend, I am not sure where you may be on your journey. Maybe you have just begun, and you are still running with the zeal of newness. Maybe you are stuck somewhere in the middle and debating if you are too far in to go back or still close enough to the starting line to count the rest as a loss. Maybe the finish line is in plain sight. Wherever you are on your journey, know that God has ordained both your steps and your stop. (I wanted to sound deep, LOL). He already knows what your finish looks like, the detours you will take instead of just following his path, and how to reroute you to get you to the completion of that thing. For those of you who feel like you are so close but seemingly so far away, keep going. For you who may be running out of time, resources, and even strength, keep pressing. Basically I’m trying to encourage you to keep pushing forward through the fatigue, past the pain, and despite the difficulties. God is not going to let you die before you finish this thing! All of this will be worth it the minute cross this threshold. If you have to cry, crawl, or even be carried to the finish, FINISH! And just when you think you won’t make it to the finish line, God will give you grace to finish.
“I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 [Christian Standard Bible]
Hey, and go read my blog Finish. for kicks and giggles.
I hope this helps.
I’m going to do my level best to get straight to the point today.
Today’s post is inspired by the gray clouds that we experienced this morning as well as a post that resurfaced in my Facebook Memories.
On this day two years ago, I posted to my Facebook news feed, “It’s always nice to have a little unexpected sunshine on a cloudy day. Thanks for dropping by to make my day brighter!” Reading that, I immediately recognized that I must have been referring to whatever
nappy headed, smooth talking, trying to be charming joker guy I was dating at the time. Obviously, he dropped by my job for some reason that day (probably to bring me lunch because I’m a fat food lover), and I felt that he lit up my life. *side eye, eye roll, and heavy breath* In the comment section, a friend posted, “I need sunshine on my cloudy days…one day.” My response to her will be the crux of this moment of sharing. I simply replied,
“It’s coming, but you need the cloudy day to appreciate the sun!”
I have spent too many days of my 30+ years complaining about the days that down right sucked. I would have used a more eloquent word, but “sucked” is the best way to describe some of my lowest moments. I’m talking about those days when I stretched a dollar to pay a bill just to not have enough. I’m referring to the days I spent curled up in a ball crying my eyes out because my heart had been broken, my feelings hurt, or my expectation shattered. I’m speaking of the days when nothing I did was good enough no matter how hard I tried. Those days SUCKED, and for a great portion of my existence, I have hated those low days. As a matter of fact, there are some moments in time that I won’t even allow my mind to relive because of the pain, shame, or embarrassment associated. It was on those cloudy days that I sometimes felt helpless and hopeless as if the sun would never shine on me.
“…but you need the cloudy day to appreciate the sun!”
Many moons ago when I was in college, for the first time, I was no stranger to what I call “Struggle Meals.” Oodles of Noodles, tuna fish, pizza that I had to eat for several meals in a row, fast food, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Chef Boyardee…struggle meals for a college student. I lived in an apartment and kind of knew how to cook, but the cost of groceries were so high in Northern Virginia. As a matter of fact, I would wait until I drove home to visit my family in Portsmouth to buy groceries, and I’d drive back to Arlington with coolers of food in my trunk. For the first few weeks, I ate like royalty; but when the food started running out, it was back to the struggle. I can remember in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving 2006, I was definitely on that struggle meal plan, and I was dying for a home cooked meal. When it was finally time for me to head back to my mom’s house, I was anxious to get on the road and had already planned to pack to containers of food to take back with me. That Thanksgiving, it was if the macaroni and cheese was cheesier, the yams were sweeter, and the turkey was a bit more juicy than the year before. The truth is though my mama could throw down in the kitchen, that meal wasn’t any better than her others. I appreciated and savored that food more that holiday because I had grown accustomed to struggle plates.
That food was bomb, y’all. Lord knows I miss my mama and her cooking.
I believe no further examples are necessary. I’m ready to get to the point.
“On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14 [New International Version]
Growing up in church, I used to hear my Uncle Charles singing a song entitled, “I Won’t Complain.” As youngster, it didn’t make much sense to me, and I thought he just wanted to yell at the end. (If you know the song then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.) Now that I am older and have lived through some ups and down of my own, I better understand the lyrics:
“I’ve had some good days. I’ve had some hills to climb. I’ve had some weary days and some sleepless nights; but when I look around and think things over, all of my good days outweigh my bad days, and I won’t complain.“
In life, it is impossible to avoid bad times. I’ll go further to confirm that you can be a believer, anointed, saved, sanctified, Holy Ghost filled and that with a mighty burning fire, and speak in tongues when the Spirit gives utterance and still have what seems to be a crappy day or even season. But I have to tell the whole truth: the day is actually not bad, after all it is a day that God created and gave you breath to live through. For those reasons alone, everyday is a good day; however, I recognize that a good day can have bad times. I will NOT negate your bad times since I too have lived through a few. Now that we have that established, let’s look at those song lyrics again. As a child, it seemed like this song only spoke of stuff that wasn’t going right: hills to climb, weary days, and sleepless nights. This joker was tired all day then still couldn’t sleep that night!!! (This sounds like my life sometimes.) With all that “bad” and only one mention of a good day, the writer still penned that the good days outweighed the bad days. Wait a minute! You’re trying to tell me that one day of good was worth more than all of those days of hardship? Life and experience taught me just how true this is. Just like that Thanksgiving meal making up for all of the struggle meals that I had eaten, God will allow one big moment to supersede the hard moments that proceeded it. This song speaks of the unorthodox balance of life that creates a sense of appreciation. Bad times have the propensity to make us grateful for good times. After a stretch of days with high temperatures, we are grateful for the rain to cool us off, and after a few days of rain, we are grateful for the sun again. You see how that works? Even if the number of days aren’t congruent, there is a balance between the good and the bad.
So as this scripture says, “On a good day, enjoy yourself; on a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted.” More times that I can count, I have ended a day saying, “You never know what can happen in a day.” To me, this is what the tail-end of this scripture is speaking of. God can’t give us all good times, and I don’t believe God will give us all bad times; therefore, when you wake up in the morning, you have NO CLUE what the day will hold. This causes us to remain dependent on God. And before you look at your reliance on God as a bad thing, remember that he knows the plans he has for you and your day (Jeremiah 29:11). A problem occurs when we seemingly have such an extended period of bad that we don’t expect the good anymore. Consider my Facebook post; I mentioned receiving unexpected sunshine. *insert side eye, eye roll, and heavy breath* It is possible to be so used to the clouds that you stop looking for the sun. I have found in my own life that it is just when I become content in my current state that God will “shine” in my life just to prove to be that #1 he is still God and #2 that it won’t be this way always.
I think I totally blew my whole “getting straight to the point’ thing today.
If by chance you feel as if you are living through one of the hardest seasons of your life for one reason or another, know that you are merely in the balance. Today is preparing you for your tomorrow, and your tomorrow may far outweigh your today. You can’t appreciate the sun if you’ve never had a day without it.
I hope this helps.
“I don’t know.” That was my entire response when asked what I was going to do next. Usually that response would be a defense mechanism for what I really know in my heart but am afraid to speak out of my mouth. In this case, I really didn’t know, and the fact that I didn’t have a plan left me feeling a bit defeated. Just as I began hanging my head with a bit of shame, my friend said, “Then this is a good time to let God tell you what to do.”
2019 will literally be the year of new beginnings for me. No for real…I’m not just speaking in cliché (as if that is an actual language). Within a matter of school days I will complete my 22 month journey through cosmetology school. In approximately three months, my lease will end and I’ll have a new roof over my head. Besides these two notable happenings, there are a few other things that are bound to shift for me this year. I can remember welcoming the year 2018 while shaking in my boots because God had given me a glimpse of what he wanted to do through me. I was overwhelmed and, quite frankly, scared because I didn’t believe I was capable of doing what he asked; furthermore, I had no clue how I could do what he asked. 2019 has begun, and I am once again shaking in my boots. Unlike last year when I was trying something new, this year I am also doing some things over. Doing something you’ve never done can be difficult due to fear of the unknown, but a do-over couples that fear of the unknown with the fear of failure. I have done my level best to keep fear at bay; however, what I have been struggling with is uncertainty.
I am at the stage of my life where anything can happen, and that worries the crap out of my nerve. Don’t get it twisted, I am ecstatic just thinking of the possibilities of what I could do and become, but in the same breath, I can’t for the life of me narrow that down the “what” or figure out how it will manifest. I have shared in blogs past that I have some mild touches of anxiety, I am a supreme worry wart, and I am a master control freak. I ordinarily have a Plan B for my Plan A and a back up to the back up. Though I can think quickly on my feet, I typically don’t have to because I have thoroughly thought the plan through to every best and worse scenario. Currently I am without much of a plan. When asked what I am going to do once I graduate from cosmetology school, I don’t give the answer that is expected — the one that is seemingly the correct next step. While other classmates are announcing what salon they are currently or waiting to work in, I am taking a riskier approach. When asking where I’m moving to, I have an exuberant, “I DON’T KNOW!” Apartment hunting has proven to be one of the most stressful and frustrating things I have done in a very long time. When questioned about how long I’ll stay at my job, you already know what I am going to say. I don’t know! All of this uncertainty has been working my last good nerve and testing every ounce of my patience. Sometimes I just want to yell up to heaven, “TELL ME SOMETHING!” At this point of my life, I thought I’d be on stable ground: not starting over, not trying again, not figuring it out but walking the path that was clearly created for me. Then something within me asked, ” Who said you aren’t on the right path?”
(“Something” is really God, and since he talks to me in clap back form, I’m sure he was well on his way to yoking me up and getting me together…per usual.)
Transparent moment: As I drove to work yesterday morning, I had one of the clearest epiphanies that I have experienced in a long time. I had to admit to myself that I don’t like some things in my life. (Okay, maybe I’m being a little vague). In that moment, it clicked that my time in some spaces is up, and sooner than later I am going to have to make a move. Here’s the thing about at the moment when you realize time is up, moving forward is scary as hell and staying put is dangerous as hell. Typically when God is trying to shift me to the next thing, everything that I was once content with becomes uncomfortable. I personally believe that no one willingly moves from a comfortable place. Let’s take my bed, for example. I am not a morning person, and I do not enjoy getting out of the bed to go fulfill obligations, but those obligations are the sole, and I mean only, reason why I have to peel myself from my comfortable place to get moving. Back to yesterday. So I had the epiphany, which was really confirmation to what I already felt, and I immediately began wrestling with accepting it. For me, accepting it meant that I had to be prepared to move forward because staying put would only bring about more discomfort. Sometime around 1:45 p.m. I found myself at my desk crying because one question rang in my head, “Move forward to where?” Again, my answer sincerely was and is, “I don’t know.”
I envision myself in my car – engine running, a tank full of gas – ready to go with no clue where to go or how to get there.
Not knowing what to do is overwhelming. Y’all, I feel like I don’t even know the first step to take! If God would give me an overview of my path like Google Maps, I’d be fine, but in this particular season, I’m finding that God is less like Siri and more like that passenger that you are taking to a place that you’ve never been before. You know what I’m talking about. Your friend asks for a ride to Pookie’s house, and you’ve never been to Pookie’s house before. You all get in the car, and the passenger says something like, “Go that way.” After some time, they will call out one direction after another until finally you make it to Pookie’s house. In past experiences, when we arrived, I realized I generally knew where we were and an easier way to get there. Furthermore, after all of those individual twists and turns, I could barely remember how to get back! —WOAH! I just got a major revelation… I’ll share it in two seconds. — God is not giving me all of the details upfront; he is saying, “Just drive, and I’ll tell you where to go.”
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'”
Psalm 32: 8 [New Living Translation]
Whew, Jesus! I randomly ran across that scripture last night… Talk about it being right on time.
I DON’T HAVE TO KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO BECAUSE GOD DOES! There is no need to use Google Maps, Waze App, or even MapQuest when you already know how to get where you are going. (Well, you can use Waze to tell you where the cops are, but I digress.) You don’t need help when you have it all figured it out. In the same vein, we would be less likely to depend on God if we knew everything up front. With that said, God will simply say, “Move,” and when you ask him for specifics, he’ll just give you another instruction.
Oh yeah, my revelation from two seconds ago…
God won’t tell me upfront where he’s taking me because I will abandon depending on him and revert to my controlling nature….but that’s not the good part. Secondly, some of the twists and a turns are strategic so that I CAN’T GO BACK THE WAY I CAME!!! HA! When we remember how to get back to what we know, we are tempted to just turn around when we feel “lost” or like we are in unknown territory. God is taking me a way that I’ve never been before not only to expose me to a new journey but to ensure that I never go back to where I came from.
Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’ll never go back!” #churchy
For the last five months or so, even more so in the past few weeks, I have been staring at the picture of my life trying to figure out its trajectory. All I know is I’m almost done with school, I have to move, some things have to change, and there are “new assignments” that are nagging me daily. Here I stand looking like Boo, the fool, because I have NO CLUE what steps to take. I have exhausted my intellect trying to figure out a plan that will probably fail anyway. (Remember I said in my blog What Did I Say? “I had a plan, but God had his will.” That’s the way the story always goes for me.) Just after crying a few tears yesterday, reaching out my girls for some moral support, and once again confessing, “God I don’t know what to do,” I ran across this scripture.
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'”
Let me make this plain…
Though God is really in control, he gives allows us to have free will — he’s not going to force us to do something, we’d just be living outside of his will for our lives if we go against him. With that in mind, for the purpose of this illustration, I’d like to submit that God is the passenger in our cars. He knows where we need to go, but he isn’t just going to “take us there.” That would be too easy and require no work from us. At best we’d just have to exercise faith and not be anxious because we aren’t in control. Anyway, God is saying, “I want to take you somewhere. Get on I-64 W.” That to me is an example of him choosing the best pathway which offers a sense of direction. Okay that’s cool, but I still don’t know where I’m going. I-64 is the roadway to just about everywhere. Then I envision God saying, “Get off that exit then turn left, but slow down. Cops usually sit at the foot of that exit.” That’s the part where he advises you. Lastly, I can imagine him seeing the car I can’t see in my blind spot or the car that is about to dart out into traffic and him telling me, “Don’t get over just yet. Slow down for just a second. Wait before you pull off.” He watches over me, or as the old church folk would say, “He protects me from dangers seen and unseen.”
I by no means have it figured out. Y’all, I’m just praying, but when he tells me what to do, you’ll find me following directions.
I hope this helps.
I felt bad; how could I not? We had once relished in the fact that we were both barely making it. Strangely we bonded because we were both “scratching and surviving.” Misery definitely found company between us, and I would be breaking up the party. How dare I get better, be happy, and move on? It was finally my time, and I felt awful for it.
Hello. My name is Christen, and I apologize too much.
In a random conversation with me, you are liable to hear me apologize for everything from over sharing to not saying enough. I’ll apologize if I accidentally cut you off just the same as I’ll apologize for the hesitation before my response. If I’m singing or laughing too loudly, I may apologize. If I’m too quiet and “not myself,” I’ll apologize. Without my cognizant recognition, I would have apologized for every single thing I’ve done throughout the day. Here are two important things to know about my proclivity to be over apologetic.
The other day I sent a text message to a friend doing what I do best…apologizing. Interestingly enough, I wasn’t apologizing for something I said or did. I hadn’t overstepped a boundary. With this particular friend, we were once two peas in misery’s pod. We struggled with some of the same issues, battled with some of the same kinds of grief, and suffered from the same lowered esteem. Life had taken its toll on the both of us, and we used that as a point of camaraderie. We foolishly and unintentionally reconstructed the foundations of our friendship with the struggles of one season not considering how it would affect the next. Fast forward the clock, and found myself sending a message that began with, “I apologize,” and ended saying, “I often times struggle with feeling bad that my life seemingly is peachy and perfect while you work to get out of a hole. I sometimes find myself wanting to dumb down the good because I don’t share with you the bad.”
There it is. I don’t just apologize, I dumb down.
Transparently speaking, I cannot even count the number of relationships (romantic or otherwise), the number of ways, or even the myriad of reasons why I minimized who I was. Whether it was because I was the smartest, most outspoken, or merely the least intimidated person in the room, I would sometimes shrink up for the sake of others, specifically those close enough to me to touch my emotions.
I like understanding and catching every detail, so often times I will go back and read text message or email threads over again to see if I missed anything: the point, the underlying intent, or anything that was written between the lines but unspoken. In re-reading this thread, one of the main things I found was my own flaw. As aforementioned, I was conversing with someone who had been close enough to me to know my sufferings and even suffer with me in some ways. This individual knows how I think, what my heart is like, and even how bad off I once was. This person has not only seen me cry and heard me pray for better days but also watched me work my behind off everyday to get to “better.” This conversation was with a friend…a friend who I left behind at misery’s party. Even typing that makes my heart ache because I didn’t intend to leave anyone behind. That isn’t who I am at the heart of me which is why I become this woman who apologizes and diminishes. Reading those text messages again didn’t just show me the Christen with a big, loving heart. As I said, I saw my flaws and ultimately the root of this behavior.
That was a lot. If I were a preacher, I’d say something like, “All of that was my introduction; I had to get you to the porch.”
If you have been following my blog for some time, especially the really good ones that I have since disabled so that I can publish them in my book, (*insert smirk*) then you know that over the last two years or so I went through transition after transition. I have survived suicidal depression, brokenness, to a degree homelessness (meaning I lost the roof over my head that belonged to me), lack in every area, and heartbreak of every kind. I have cried so many tears that I have could have replenished the receding waters of a river. I was no stranger to sleepless nights consumed with never-ending sobbing and prayers that I really didn’t have the strength to pray followed by mornings where I applied a mask and pretended all was well. By the grace of God, I am not in that place anymore! Again, prior blogs revealed how God gave me peace as a 30th birthday gift, and shortly there after, he gave me joy! Honestly, I hadn’t felt either in so long that I didn’t know how to cope with it. Isn’t it funny how we can be in a bad space so long that we don’t know how to enjoy anything better? I’ll take it a step further and admit that though I prayed for it, somewhere along the way, I just became content with what was. God snapped me right out of that though. It was like he gave me what I needed, and he has been teaching me how to enjoy it. Peep this… Below is a portion of the Prophetic Declaration that my church recited almost every Sunday of 2018:
“This year, the Lord is exposing me to the purging of my atmospheres. I embrace release from oppressive places and people who seek to keep me in a place of brokenness, lack, and pity. I accept that my freedom may divide the company around me, but I declare that I win as long as God is for me.”
“I accept that my freedom may divide the company around me…”
The more I said this (and the rest of the declaration), the more I saw it come to past in my life. I had finally found a measure of freedom that I hadn’t experienced at any point of my adult life, and that freedom wouldn’t let me be content in the spaces that reminded me of the brokenness, lack, and pity that I once inhabited. Furthermore, I found myself discontent with the people who wanted me to remain broken and pitiful. Because I often give the benefit of the doubt, I don’t believe those individuals didn’t want be to be free. I wholeheartedly believe they didn’t want to be miserable alone. Remember, misery loves company, but every week I was declaring and watching my freedom divide that company. As a retaliation, I did what I know to do. First, I became too inclusive. I tried so desperately to fast track my friend’s deliverance so that we both could live in freedom, but that was not my shot to call. If I have learned nothing else, I now understand that people can only be healed at the level of their desire to be. If they have not found the strength to move forward or if they enjoy being broken, no amount of pushing or pulling will make them heal faster. I’ve also learned that once they have begun the process, they have to heal at their own pace. (You’ll hear that again soon.) After my failed attempts to bring that friend to where I was, I kicked into people-pleasing mode and began diminishing how great my freedom truly was. If I am transparent, I got tired of feeling like something was wrong with me because I had gotten better, and it hurt watching those who should have applauded the loudest barely clap. Before long, I would share my joy with the world but shrink when I entered the room with my nearest and dearest. In an effort to not make them feel inadequate for who, what, and where they were, I silenced the joy of who, what, and where I was. “Silenced” is past tense. I silence.
Last summer, a few weeks shy of my 30th birthday and single release, I went to lunch with my aunt and an acquaintance. In the conversation, I was sharing how I sensed that I was at the cusp of a completely new dimension, and I felt as if my life was completely about to change. When the conversation shifted to the acquaintance, who was just entering one of the most life-shaking transitions that she had ever experienced, she said, “I don’t understand why it’s Christen’s time and not mine. Is she better than me or something?” Y’all, I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing because she at least knew bits and pieces of the hell that the previous ten years of my life had brought me. She knew about my mother passing away in 2010 and the grief that controlled my life at one point. She knew about my failed marriage in 2008 and how I later had to bury that same man in 2013 because we were still legally married. She knew about how I had lost my home in 2017. She knew about some of the more recent heartbreak. She knew too much of my struggle to insinuate that it was my time out of turn simply because it wasn’t hers. I can remember my excitement dying down and spending the remainder of that lunch avoiding all talks of the shifting of my season.
I’m almost to the point. Don’t grow weary in well doing.
Beyond my control, my season changed. Without the consent or permission of anyone around me, God gave me freedom, peace, and joy. It was time.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
Psalm 126: 5 [King James Version]
Here are the basics of agriculture, if you care to know. In one season, you plant a seed. Once that seed is planted, you wait. There will be a period of time where it seems as if there is no activity because nothing has sprouted from the soil. That, my friend, is untrue. Even though there is no tangible evidence of growth that can be calculated by the naked eye, beneath the soil that seed bursts open and roots began forming. In this period of time, it feels like both the seed and time has been wasted. Oh but, baby, once the roots are deep enough, the plant begins working its way through the soil. That’s when you see that what you’ve planted was not sown in vain.
There were so many nights when I cried feeling as if the cycle would never end. In one moment I begged myself to believe that God could hear me and that he cared while in another moment I struggled with the pain of that season. What I didn’t realize, according to Psalm 126:5, my tears were seeds. If you have a seed, you’re likely to have a harvest. When I least expected it, joy sprouted! Just like the soil that begins cracking to make way for the plant, God had began preparing my life for harvest. Unfortunately, though praying for change and proclaiming that prophetic declaration, I didn’t expect God to do something like that for me. Then boom…harvest! It was time, and the seed was ripe for harvest. I’ll go further and say I that even in my hard times, I prayed (begged really) for this harvest. So why is it now that I’m walking in a level of peace, joy, and freedom that I have never experienced in my adult life I am apologizing for it?
How befitting that my Facebook Memories would give me this quote that I posted from Pastor Akeem Walker when he preached at my church last year. “Stop lying to people to help them feel comfortable about your change.” My nature to be over apologetic, dumb myself down, and diminish who, what, or where I am is nothing more than a lie to allow someone else to feel comfortable with where they are compared to where I am. I’ve been lying, yo!!!! Because I was trying to be a ride or die and remain loyal, I constricted myself to a season that I had been delivered from. I hated hearing, “You changed. You’re acting brand new,” so I would walk in my change in one arena and diminish it in another. The devil is a liar and a daggone loser! Yes, I did change, and? Isn’t what we are supposed to do? We would be so disappointed if we planted a seed for corn and all that popped out of the grown was a stalk full of seeds for corn. Bruh, then why is it that we watch people sow seeds of tears and expect them to reap a harvest of tears? Why do we watch people sow seeds of hard work and hate on them when they reach success? How is that we can watch people go through processes to transform their lives then be pissed when they become whole? Then we complain, “Oh, you’re acting funny. You’ve changed.”
Hel… heck yeah, I changed. I earned this change!
Side Note: I got fired up just then, and the “h word” would have really gone hard for effect. Pray for me, y’all… (It’s okay to laugh.)
In a prophetic moment last Sunday, my pastor shared the following words with me:
“God is going to remove leeches from your life. Either they will have to heal or let go. You too will have to let go of anyone you are leeching onto in order to feel better. You don’t need them.”
From this moment forward, I am making a vow to myself that I will no longer dumb down, diminish, or apologize for having a joy. If there be any of my nearest and dearest who cannot celebrate what God is doing for me in this season, especially those who know my story, I stand in agreement that they will have to let me go. Just the same, I will let go of anyone who I feel the need to diminish for in order to pacify and validate my insecurities. I am where I am because God led me. I am who I am because God transformed me. I have what I have because God blessed me. “This joy I have, the world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.” If this joy is too much for them, they won’t be able to stand what God does in my life next. I’m not apologizing for it. As a matter of fact, there’s no apology necessary.
I’m not even gonna apologize for how long this blog was. *licks tongue and rolls eyes*
I hope this helps.
There it was. Though I knew the time was approaching, it was so surreal seeing my name on that sheet of paper. In that moment it really clicked that I was far from my beginning, the end was closer than I accounted for, but most importantly, I had survived everything in the middle…
I drug my tired body into school. Another night to fulfill the routine – one that had been exhausted for almost two years. That night my kit felt especially heavy or maybe I was just a bit more depleted than usual. The fact of the matter: I was tired…exhausted even. All of the time spent grinding, pressing, and sacrificing my life for the sake of education had taken its toll on my mind, body, and energy. I pushed through the crowd to clock-in, a few minutes late per usual, when a sheet of paper caught my eye. It was a list of upcoming graduates who needed to begin fulfilling their last few duties before the final clock-out. My name was on that list! As if by divine osmosis, I jolted with energy and rushed to find my friend, Alicia. “I’m graduating soon,” I declared to anyone who would listen. “My name is on the list!” The end was finally in sight.
If all goes to plan, I will clock out of cosmetology school for the final time on Tuesday, January 29, 2019! (A praise goes right there.) Though I am bursting at the seams with excitement, I knew that graduation was eminent if for no other reason than time is winding up. The goal all along has been to clock the state mandated 1,500 hours, and I have clocked over 1,400. If I’m very honest, I’m actually behind. If I wouldn’t have gotten off track, I would have graduated last month. I’ll come back to that. Nevertheless, seeing my name on that list awakened me to the fact that I am further along that I think, and I’ve almost made it to my destination.
More than the destination, I needed the journey.
That night while driving home, I allowed my mind to recapitulate some of the many steps that led me to the moment that I found myself relishing in. Moons ago as I entered my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to go to cosmetology school; however, my indecision led me away from that choice. Though I never stopped doing hair on a consistent basis, my dream of being a licensed stylist was pushed further and further to the back of my mind. Over the next decade, I found myself in the grind of working to pay the bills, and failing every time I tried my hand at college after my first degree. In the fall of 2016, I found myself stuck and discontent with what had become of my life. I was afraid to try anything new but too frustrated to remain in my rut. After a little nudging from a former friend, I began gathering information. After months of self pep talks and beat down sessions alike, I mustered up the courage to apply for school in January of 2017. Two months later I began what would easily become one of the most beautifully challenging journeys of my life.
I walked into Rudy & Kelly Academy, a Paul Mitchell Partner School, on March 27, 2017 with one goal in mind: FINISH! With three failed attempts at college under my belt, I NEEDED to finish. As mentioned in my blog “What Did I Say?,” this was what I thought would be my last chance at this school thing. Sitting in that classroom, I didn’t tell myself to make friends, be open-minded, or enjoy the journey. I only imagined the day that I would walk to the very time clock that I punched into for the first time and clock out for the final time. As the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into a year, I could only think of wanting school to be over with. I was exhausted, unmotivated, and quite frankly, I was over it! After working a full-time job during the day, working for my church, and enduring a five-hour class four nights each week, quitting seemed like a viable option except I couldn’t. At first I convinced myself that I hadn’t given it enough of a chance to quit. Later down the line, I reckoned that I was too far from the starting line to quit. What I didn’t realize was I was too close to the finish line to quit.
Driving down I-64 West that night, chatting with a friend on the phone, my rambling made me not only excited about my approaching graduation but aware of just how important my journey was. To fully understand this you must know just how much I didn’t believe I could make it this far. Repeated failure has a way of suppressing your expectations even when you find the courage to try again. In the back of my mind a quiet voice would sometimes tell me that at some point something wouldn’t work out. I pushed forward anyway. But y’all, the push to keep it moving has given me a strength that has outweighed all of my weaknesses. Going to school validated so many things in me. I’d like to share just what these last 20 months on this journey has taught me:
Transparently speaking, for years I felt inadequate because I didn’t attend a four-year college and didn’t have a traditional degree. This journey through cosmetology school helped me embrace that everyone’s journey is unique to his/her purpose, and I truly excelled when I aligned with my God-given purpose and not just my self-contrived desires. I wasn’t any less than because I don’t have a Bachelor’s or a Master’s. I have every right to be just as proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished.
If you would have asked me almost two years ago if I imagined being where I am and knowing what I now know, I would have denied it. I have known for quite some time where I want to end up (because I’m not there yet), but I haven’t always been sure how to get there. Some days I still question my next step. What I do know is I found the courage to make step number one with the final step in mind, and I’ve gained so much more than I could have asked for in the steps along the way.
Whether running down the clock in cosmetology school, punching the clock at my 8-4, trying to walk out my purpose on the earth, or going through a series of transitions, I am learning that most times what is most important is NOT the end all be all. If the journey is filled with suffering, how I suffer matters. I will need to rely on God, try not to complain, and pray for strength. If the journey is filled with blessings, it is humility that matters. I’ll need to remember that every good and perfect gift comes from above, seek to never become arrogant, and in everything to be thankful. On this journey from March 27, 2017 to January 29, 2019, I haven’t always had the best attitude and I even sometimes spoke ill of the blessing that God gave me, but thank God for grace and getting hemmed up in the corner by the Holy Spirit. Looking back from what is almost the finish line, I can see that the date on the calendar isn’t the only thing that changed…I did.
Reaching my destination will mean the world to me, but getting there has changed my world for me. It was all about the journey.
I hope this helps.
I missed last week’s blog, but if you are an avid follower, you knew that already. I can explain though. The long and short of the story is that I was too busy for my own good. Anyway, thanks for coming back today. *hugs and kisses*
It is so hard to believe this is the last Thursday of 2018. I feel like about 5 minutes ago I was wishing everyone I could, “Happy New Year.” In a blink of an eye, 2018 has come and will soon go, but she has definitely made her mark on infinity…at least for me. I have had some high highs and some low lows this year, but not one moment that passed left me empty-handed. Once I finished drying my tears or jumping up and down, whichever was applicable, I had to be mature enough to find the lesson that each circumstance was trying to teach me. I don’t believe anything occurs by happenstance, so that means everything that comes into my life is either a blessing, a lesson, or both, as cliché as that may sound.
Today I don’t have anything amazingly deep to share with you all. Though I could paint pictures and share narratives, I simply want to share with you what 2018 meant to me, pulled from me, and taught me.
In no particular order of importance, 2018 taught me:
I know this list could be perceived as basic…stuff I should have known by now. I am content enough in my own skin to applaud myself for what I’ve learned and not be ashamed of what I haven’t. Simply put, I am growing! I am ending this year in such a better space than I began it. I can vividly remember crying for the first week of the year because I didn’t have money, I was heartbroken, and I felt so alone. If someone would have told me that in 2018 I would accomplish what I have accomplished, both goals and growth, I wouldn’t have believed them. But here I am on the last Thursday of the month with only a handful of days remaining in this year, victorious. I lived to see 30 years old. I released music and pulled off a successful release concert debt free! I co-directed an amazing stage play. I am only weeks away from graduation. I am mentally and emotionally healthy. I am surrounded by great people. I have new blog followers (welcome, y’all). I’ve built new relationships. I haven’t missed a meal, been in the dark, or been without a roof over my head all year. I watched my brother walk to get his Master’s Degree, my other brother go back to school to get his Bachelor’s Degree, and my sister-in-love get her Associate’s Degree and push forward towards her Bachelor’s as well. God has given me peace and sincere joy, and I have laughed more in second half of this year to make up for all of the tears in the first.
I didn’t cross everything off my list and some things from my vision board will crossover into the new year. I’ve lost some major relationships and dynamics have changed in others. My edges still didn’t grow back, and I gained weight instead of losing it. I didn’t get married and I still don’t have a boyfriend, and I am PERFECTLY content with that – go figure. All in all, I am just saying that I’m blessed…2018 retaught me that lesson.
If this year has been hard for you, full of changes and transitions, I encourage you to find the small moments of happiness. And if you can seem to find those, remember that God didn’t take his hand off your lifen not even for one second.
I pray that you have an amazing remainder of 2018, and a happy new year. I’ll see you next year.
I hope this helps.
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.
Preface: Please forgive my two weeks of silence. Between the Thanksgiving holiday and a bit too much on my plate, two Thoughtful Thursdays slipped away without me sharing. It is my hope to be back on track now. Thanks for understanding.
Now that I’ve gotten that out the way, let me be honest with you. I have so many things that I want to share, even a few new blog drafts that have been started with incomplete thoughts, but today I struggled finding the right thing to share. What you read today may be a collection of jumbled thoughts. There may not be in clever colloquialisms, and I may not eloquently command the English language. What I will do is give you what I have exactly as I have it.
After about two years of using an android, I got a new iPhone in August. Before I start throwing up signs to rep my set for team iPhone, I’ll admit that I used to switch back and forth between the two types of phones every couple of years. Yes, there were some things about my android that I enjoyed; however, I am older and wiser now, and I doubt that I will go back. ANYWAY…I digress.
When logging my Apple ID into my new iPhone some months ago, I discovered that old pictures and notes synced back to my phone. Over the last few days, I have been cleaning out my phone, deleting anything that I don’t need so readily accessible especially if it is stored in a cloud somewhere. While scrolling through an old notes this morning, I ran across one that I wrote on February 4, 2014 at 1:32 AM. I’d like to share these broken thoughts with you:
God’s timing is perfect. He makes no mistakes. God has worked every detail to the point of completion. Yes, He is alpha, but remember He is also the omega. He has already seen how this ends. I just have to be patient. I just have to wait. God has equipped me to endure. He is sustaining and keeping me. And even when I want to give up and quit, He won’t let me. God won’t let me abandon his will for my life. So I have to trust God, his plan, and his timing. I have to be secure in knowing that God has already figured things out for me. Yes, he is in control, and just because he allows me to go through doesn’t mean he has taken his hand, eye, or attention off of my life.
Manifestation is coming. God’s will for my life WILL come to pass. There will be a demonstration of God’s favor on my life; I just have to be patient. I just have to wait.
God never fails. He never has to correct himself. What he speaks has to happen. His words can’t come back to him undone. God speaks and confirms only with himself. Our responsibility is to agree with, accept, and have faith in his words.
God has not forgotten about me. He sees me. He hears every cry. He is catching every tear. I am not cursed. I am not being punished. I am not alone. God is with me. But I must recognize that his timing is different from mine. God already has a scheduled date of manifestation for me. I do not know it, but the omniscient God knows. I just have to be patient. I just have to wait. I must consider each obstacle as a building block. God is laying foundation for what he is going to build in my life, so I cannot curse this or any past seasons. I must live through and conquer each season. Every one of them has a purpose for this time. God is laying a strong foundation in my life. I must not fight against what is being allowed; it only cracks my foundation. I HAVE TO go through this.
I cannot for the life of me remember what I was going through in the season of my life that compelled me to write this at 1:30 in the morning. I have wracked my brain to no avail and have simply accepted that I needed that affirmation then just as I must need it now.
Here is my truth: I’m living my best life! No for real, I am living the best version of life that I have lived thus far. If the truth is told, I’ve had seasons where I had less debt and more money, my credit scores have definitely been better than they are right now, I’ve had more friends than I currently have left, and Lord do I remember being skinnier than this! All things considered, those things pale in comparison to the peace of mind and intentional joy that I have experienced over the last four months. I’m drinking more water, I am less than two months away from graduating – finally finishing something, I’m receiving a monthly royalty check for my single that I released, and I have laughed more in last two months than I have in the last two years. Life is good, right?
Life is good because I have learned how to not be consumed with the bad.
My journey to this peace was tumultuous, and sometimes I still have to deal with the aftermath of the trauma. Truthfully, some days are still filled with trauma! So I found myself recently having a conversation with God that went a little something like this:
Me: God, thank you for every single thing. A lot has changed but I’m really grateful that some things are different. I just still feel like something is missing. Why can’t EVERYTHING be alright RIGHT NOW?
Me: I mean my season shifted, right? I’m done with that big transition…I can tell, but I feel so burnt out. When will I get a break from people and things that drain me?
Me: I’m 30, and I’m still grinding this out by myself. I’m grateful that you’ve made me independent enough to do what I have to do, but when can I not have to do it alone or at least have a load that isn’t as heavy?
Me: God, I am running out of ways to juggle bills, stretch dollars, and cover this life by myself. Can I please get a break or some direction about my job or something?
Me: GOD, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? SAY SOMETHING!
…a few days later I ran across the aforementioned note in my phone.
I don’t believe it is coincidence that I ran across this iPhone note almost five years after it was written. With all of the things on my plate, good, bad, and overwhelming alike, God has everything under control. His timing is perfect, and he is still gonna make good on his word. There are so many transitions that I have found myself in within the last six months that I so desperately want to be out of. Honestly, I’m sick of some portions of this journey, but I don’t have a choice but to endure. No literally, there is no way out of this mess but through. UGH! This old message from me was like a pat on the back that said, “You’ll be alright, Chris. Keep pushing.”
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I’m glad I warned you that this may not be eloquent today because I was correct. I guess my two weeks off have affected me. I’ll do better next time.
In its simplest form, this was a gentle reminder for me. God hasn’t forgotten about me. God is still working on my behalf. “God has not taken his hand, eye, or attention off of my life.” All of this is merely a foundation for what he is going to building my life. There will be manifestation.
“…and there will be a performance.”
I hope this helps.
I promise this song will fit perfectly with what I said.
I scrolled through the photos in my phone looking for one specific picture when I saw a picture of us. We had smirks on our face, and I swear I could remember the exact joke that was cracked just before I snapped our selfie. That was our way though: laughing uncontrollably and taking pictures…even if they would never be posted. Staring at the picture, my chuckle turned into a sigh, and my smile diminished a bit. Time and change had done a number on the people who were that photo. We aren’t those people anymore.
“No one warns you about the amount of mourning in growth.”
(This is a repost posted to Pastor Kim Pothier’s Instagram page.)
I have been very open in sharing how the journey leading to and the days that followed my page turn to Chapter 30 has changed my life completely. My transformation began with self-evaluation, and slowly but surely, I began not only expecting but embracing change. My personality and habits changed. I relinquished excuses, fear, and my proclivity to be a people pleaser. (That people pleasing thing is still a work in progress, but I’ve covered a lot of ground.) I started taking chances and actually accomplishing things. Most importantly, I started taking care of, covering, looking out for, thinking about, and doing things for myself. I was given peace and freedom that translated to every area of my life. My priorities shifted to making sure I was living out my purposes and protecting my peace at all costs.
Nobody told me that my peace would cost me some people.
Many of the dynamics of my friendships are completely different now. While I was busy growing, things were shifting. My tolerance, expectations, and efforts changed, and either my friends kept up with my new pace or fell off because they could keep up or wouldn’t even try. Some of the friends who were seemingly in the background or not in the picture at all now have a bit more of an audience with me. On the converse, some friends who seemed to be featured in a leading role have fallen into the shadows. I can’t put an exact date on when roles switched, all I know is when I look at the “pictures” of my life, things look different.
Then I have moments like today when I look back at an old picture and see what was. I don’t know what aches more, the memory or the realization that I’m not in that space anymore. I wasn’t prepared to not be in that space anymore; it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t.
Once upon a time, me and the face in the picture were on level ground. We sat together, laughed together, and suffered together. We were even buddies in depression and grief. We were each other’s crutches that lended one another a hand to get up and sometimes stay down and wallow. We enabled one another. Then after almost dying at rock bottom, God helped me get up! Being a friend and one who wants everyone to be included, I extended a hand. God had to be the one to pull up my friend just like he had to pull me up. As much as I tried to remain where I was with my friend, I was uncomfortable in that pit. I later reckoned that God wouldn’t let me stay in or linger around defeat, depression, and suicidal thoughts. He was protecting me so I didn’t slip back into that place. The only way I could grow and live was to takes steps away which meant in some ways, I was stepping away from my friends who chose to remain in that space.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I honestly don’t have the desire or strength to drag this out today. I just want to find a point and get to it.
Let me share a quick story with you based on Ezra 3:1-13… Please read it for yourself because this is gonna be the Spark Notes version.
In the seventh month, the people of Israel gathered in Jerusalem to begin rebuilding an altar in the place where one once stood. On this altar, burnt offerings and sacrifices could be presented. According to the Israel calendar, this month is the time where they celebrated the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Trumpets, and because the altar was build those festivals were observed. After some time, (the second month of the second year) they began rebuilding the temple of God. Once the foundation was laid, the people began shouting for joy because the building was under way, but some of the older men who had seen the first temple wept.
“No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.”
Ezra 3:13 [New International Version]
It is possible to rejoice over what is and mourn over what was simultaneously.
This is what I have been wrestling to accept: it’s okay to enjoy this new blessing even if the people who I think should be with me aren’t.
Never did I imagine not having certain people or things in my life. Furthermore, I didn’t imagine that I wouldn’t have those people or things because I was actually growing. Nobody ever told me that on the flip side of excitement is that twinge of pain because things have changed and are different. I have spent the last few months of my life with simultaneous shouts of joy and weeping. My pastor calls this a “mixed praise.” What’s worse is trying to reconcile that I am not wrong for outgrowing, moving on, or progressing. I have had to force myself to not feel bad because it seems like I’m recovering better than those around me who were once in their own rut right beside me.
In this scripture, the Isrealites are rebuilding the temple! It’s a fresh start and an opportunity to not only restore what was once ruined but have something new. But for those who could remember what was, seeing something new reminded them of something old. Nothing hurts worse than realizing that today is not “the good ole days.” Trust me, acceptance of something new doesn’t automatically swipe our memories clean.
I feel like I’m rambling… It’s been such a rough day.
Here’s my point: enjoy what you have. As long as you aren’t out of the will of God, you are where you are supposed to be. I know it may hurt that this victory calls for a celebration that may be void of a few people or things. I know all too well how it is to cheer in public and wipe a tear in private. YOU AREN’T CRAZY FOR HAVING MIXED FEELINGS! Just promise me you won’t forfeit your growth while regressing to have what you had.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I won’t regret where I am because of what I lost.
I really like the title of this blog. I’ll post better one using the title later.
I hope this helps.
Preface: Today’s blog might be a little boring to some. This is isn’t comical or uncomfortably vulnerable. I’m merely sharing with the hopes to give you the boost to keep pushing forward.
“This is so embarrassing,” I thought to myself as I set in my glass encased office with tears trickling from my eyes. I kept my head down and prayed that no one would catch a glimpse of my bloodshot red eyes. I just needed to make it to lunch time without completely falling apart. “Just seven more minutes, Chris. Just keep your head down until then.”
“Are you okay?” the question that I silently pleaded that no one would utter to me. “No, I’m not okay,” I whispered as tears cascaded from my eyes to the stack of papers beneath me.”
| A Gentle Reminder |
I suffer from some mild levels of anxiety. Unless you know me and really pay attention to me, you probably wouldn’t notice it. I work overtime to mask that part of me from the public eye and even my friends because it is embarrassing. I become overwhelmed and a bit panicked when I have too many options, and sometimes two is too many. I am a severe worry wart who obsesses over the tiniest of details. I am a perfectionist, and I beat myself to a pulp if I can’t do things just right. Sometimes my trepidation about whether or not I will perform perfectly makes me not want to perform at all. Worst of all, I build up a fear of the “what ifs” that don’t even exist yet. I have almost mastered not being overtaken by my anxiety, but every now and then, it gets the best of me.
Yesterday was just one of those days. I was a little slow getting out of the house…a great enemy to my 35 minute commute to work and the unpredictable traffic that plagues the highway that I travel. I unlocked my office door to reveal a messy desk: an obvious demonstration of the exhaustion, frustration, and tedious day I had Tuesday. I cleared my desk and began grinding to meet yet another deadline but was distracted by the nagging reminder that my lease is up in five months. Why did I have to think about that right then? Couldn’t those thoughts wait? I abandoned my work to once again begin my apartment hunt; I was caught in this search for about the sixth time within the last seven days. The obsession had officially kicked in, and my overactive thinking was about to be in full swing. Before I knew it I was crunching numbers, trying to find solutions, and getting frustrated because I couldn’t. I was officially worried. One back stabbing from a coworker and a tongue lashing from a parent later, and I was in tears. There was too much pressure from too many directions, and I just couldn’t take it. I felt like all of the air had been sucked out of the room, and I couldn’t breathe. Finally, it was time for lunch. I quickly exited the building craving fresh air. If I could just sit in my car (my quiet place), listen to some music, and eat some food, I could reset. All of the local drive-thru lines were long, my order was incorrect, and I cried almost every minute of my 30 minute lunch break. I walked back to my office no more relieved than when I left, then I remembered I had a big exam in a matter of hours. My worry grew to include not only the what ifs about my impending move but everything from my grade on my state board mock exam to the $1,500 tuition that has to be paid off by January, to every other end that is still loose in my life. I was overwhelmed, and the tears stood at ready in my eyes.
My sister emailed me yesterday asking if I could do her hair this weekend, but I failed to respond. As a matter of fact, the email was still sitting open on my screen when I arrived to work this morning. I responded to her question, and the conversation gradually shifted from hair to life. She shared with me some challenges on her plate, and I opened up about my anxiety. As much as I wanted to sulk in what I felt and act helpless, I knew I wasn’t without help. Despite my worry, feelings, and anxiety, I had certainty that God had taken care of every detail of my life up to this point. My sister said, “I know that I know my God, and he doesn’t fail.” Then she hit me with straight bible:
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:26-34 [New Living Translation]
In that moment, my mind traveled to a faithful Sunday morning almost 10 years ago when my mother stood robed (a blue robe, I believe) behind the podium and read that very scripture. “Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘The birds ain’t trippin.'” That was the title of her sermon, and words that have stuck with me for a decade. (I’m going to watch that DVD sometime this weekend.)
Here I am flipping out, crunching numbers, panicking, and freaking out because what I lack (even if just knowledge) seems like such a large deficit. Ultimately, I know that the gaps can only be filled by God because he has all of the finite details not only figured out but completed. He isn’t waiting for things to work out; they have worked out, and I am waiting for them to manifest.
Birds don’t plant, harvest, or grocery shop (store food), but they eat everyday. I’ve never seen a sad looking bird moping around because it didn’t have seed or a worm. God always provides something to sustain them. The birds ain’t trippin. If God takes care of the birds, how much more will he take care of his children? Reading this scripture prompted me to ask God for forgiveness. Worrying, doubting, and stressing short-changed my faith in him that he can and will handle things…LIKE HE’S DONE EVERY OTHER TIME! And this scripture got me all the way together. “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” The answer is, “NAAAAAAAAAAH!!!” Not one millisecond will be added to my days because I stress until I come up with a plan. The promise of my sustained [quality of] life is rooted in trusting him.
Anxiety is real. I know this first hand and will never downplay what I or anyone else has felt. I do know that God is greater than my feelings. The very things that we worry about and fear are under the scope of his control. My plate is so full of things both good and bad that seem to be overwhelming me in every way. You too may have cares that are weighing on you. I want to gently remind you that God cares about you so much so that you cast (throw forcefully) your cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). Furthermore, I want to remind you that despite your plan seemingly falling apart, He has a plan for your life that doesn’t lead to destruction (Jeremiah 29:11).
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25 [English Standard Version]
I know this probably wasn’t the best thing I’ve written, but I do hope it is a “good word” that can make you glad.
Here’s the hymn that I’ve singing since yesterday…
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine
For it’s skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
I hope this helps.