You Can’t Leap and Stand Still At the Same Time

24 03 2015

leaping2

A few weeks ago, after leaving from volunteering in Virgina on a Wednesday, I had what started off as a very typical, but became a pretty surreal Metro experience. You see, I was making my way home in an attempt to get on a conference call by 9:30pm on a route that normally takes me about an hour. I made it to the Metro station by 8:40pm and had figured out that if I was on a train by 8:45, I’d have just enough time to wait the normal 15-20 minutes at my transfer stop and still make it home to Maryland by 9:30.

I was cool, calm, and collected in this knowledge. In fact, my confidence in this plan working out only grew when I noticed the Metro sign saying that the next train was just 3 minutes away.

“Perfect,” I thought. “Everything is going according to my plan.”

Ten minutes later when the train was still “3 minutes” away, I started to panic. There was no way I was going to make it home by 9:30 now, I figured. And so, as is typical of me, I began to try to figure out another plan.

Should I text someone to say I was running late but would hopefully be home by 9:45? But then what if the train took another 20 minutes and I didn’t make that time either? Maybe I should postpone the call to 10pm to give myself some leeway? Or better yet, was it better to cancel the call and save it for another day when I wasn’t rushing to get home and didn’t have to try to convince folks to get on a conference call at 10pm? But then Wednesday had been the best day for everyone to speak and finalize details, so moving the call to another day might then jeopardize the final plans… And why had I cut it so close in the first place?

All of these thoughts ran through my head at lightening speed. I mean, I was in pure panic mode, y’all.

And then I heard a soft, yet stern voice say “Stop.”

“Put your phone down, and trust that you will get home by 9:30.”

Obviously, this made no sense to me. I could clearly see the time was steady ticking away, and yet what I absolutely could not see was the damn train. Stubborn, I fought against this voice. “You don’t understand,” I thought. “I just don’t see how that’s possible. I’m not going to make it, so I need to make the appropriate plans in response to that!”

“Just trust me,” is all I got back.

After a bit more hemming and hawing, I finally did. I put my phone away and said, “Okay God. I trust you,” and immediately saw the train (that still said it was 3 minutes away) ride up to my platform. Right after I finally submitted.

You know what else happened? When I got to my transfer stop — the one that I normally have to wait 15 to 20 minutes at — I only had to wait two. And lo and behold, I made it home at 9:29pm.

Now, this story may seem frivolous, but it was one of many events that have shown me over the past month or so that I still had plenty of work to do in my faith walk.

Remember when I wrote this blog post about leaping? Well guess what — surprise, surprise — I haven’t really been living like that. Not in the truest sense. What I’d been doing (and what the Metro incident showed me very clearly) is believing in something until an obstacle came up and then falling right back into the pattern of planning for things not to work out.

That’s a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is faith.

That next Sunday, two sermons (one from my church and one from a friend’s church) drove the point home even further. Both sermons touched on the Biblical story of when Joshua, Caleb, and others went to go see what the promised land looked like. The other witnesses came back speaking about the giants they saw and spoke fear into the hearts of the other Israelites, while Joshua and Caleb essentially said “Yea we saw the giants, but we know what God said, and we’re focusing on that.” (That’s me paraphrasing, clearly.)

The two key points that hit home for me from my church’s sermon were that 1) It’s not about what you think you can see. It’s about what God has told you. Focus on that; and 2) Spiritual confirmation is not just the opportunity, but it’s also the opposition — because if you can do it by yourself, you wouldn’t have to trust God for it to happen. Those two points hit home for me especially because I realized I’d been living my life just like those other witnesses, believing and then allowing what I saw (or couldn’t see) to stop my belief. Still allowing my fears to stop me from leaping. I’d even found myself saying (as I did in the Metro incident) “but I don’t see it!”

When I read my friend’s notes, I almost broke down. “You can’t leap and stand still at the same time, just as you can’t believe and be afraid at the same time.” That hit me to my core. Have you ever tried leaping and standing still at the same time? You physically can’t do it. Just as you can’t believe and practice faith while worrying and fearing and planning for things not to work out.

And I’d been actively failing while trying to do both.

Working on my book and saying “I just need one yes,” to everyone I talked to about it, but deeply and sincerely fearing that no one would really want it.

Fighting the pull to move to another city because of what could go wrong if I did.

Being hopeful about a particular relationship, but not really trusting that it would work for us.

That was me a month ago. Trying to leap and stand still at the same time.

Now, I’m trying something different. I’m much more hopeful. I’m less stressed. I’m just simply believing. And while I’m still a work in progress, I find that I’m focusing less and less on those giants. And I’m finally, finally (!) really taking those leaps.

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Moving Mountains in 2015

18 12 2014
stolen from a friend's facebook page

stolen from a friend’s facebook page

Around this time every year, people tend to get really reflective. They start thinking about the good and bad they’ve been through during that year. They wonder if they did enough. Made enough of a difference. Laughed enough. Lived enough. They sometimes look forward to spending time with family and sometimes look forward to being alone (away from all the chaos).

Me?

I definitely look forward to spending a good week at home in New Orleans with my family. It gets crazy. It gets loud. And I’ll probably gain about 5 pounds. But I’ll be home with my peeps doing amazing things like hopefully watching the Saints play their way into a playoff berth, sentimental things like putting up Christmas decorations while singing all the songs from the Jackson 5 Christmas album, and silly things like rolling around on the floor with my godchildren, cousins, etc…

But even in the midst of all that, I’ll be working on some of the goals I’ve already made for myself in 2015. I’ll be pushing forward already on some things I know I want to accomplish, because I know without my works, my faith means nothing.

And since I believe my faith has grown over the past year, that means my works have to step up to the plate as well.

To that end, I have a laundry list of things I’ll be working on. Not to the point where I burn myself out, but to the point where I know I definitely won’t look back on 2015 with regret. And it’s not that I have regrets for 2014; let me not make it seem like that’s the case. By all accounts, 2014 has been a good year for me. I got a promotion at the beginning of the year. I’ve traveled around the country (a lot). I’ve spent a significant amount of time with some of my favorites in this world. I saw 3 really close friends get married in person (one in which I was in the wedding). I had an amazing 31st birthday. A lot started coming together for the book I’m working on. I’ve dated (some good and some bad lol) and was finally honest with myself about the person I really wanted to be with. I mean, it’s been good!

It’s just that I know, despite the things I’ve accomplished, there have also been a few times where I let my doubts stop me.

A few times when my doubts created mountains that I then had to move when they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

I didn’t have a phrase for that until earlier this week when I saw the above meme on a friend’s page, and it hit me like a lightning bolt. What I can’t do, what I won’t do, in 2015 is allow my doubts to create mountains in my life. That’s my resolution. That’s the overarching theme of the laundry list of my goals. Because listen, some of these goals are scary as all get out, but that’s what makes them so amazing. And that’s what’s going to make 2015 the year of mountain moving in my life.

Do you all have any goals you want to share for the new year? Any reflections you’ve been thinking of lately? I probably won’t have any new material for the next couple weeks, but I wish you all the happiest of holidays and the best new year to come!





Choosing the People in Your Life

21 03 2014

“You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.” ~ Ted, How I Met Your Mother

I’ve been talking a lot about choices on the blog lately: choosing to be happy, choosing to step out on faith, choosing which priorities are more important to you, etc… Shoot, even my church is in the midst of a sermon series about the choice to be healed right now, so those who know me in real life know that I’ve been talking about choices in person a lot too. But I realized while watching How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) the other night that I hadn’t actually talked about one of the most important decisions we make daily — on the people we allow to be in our lives.

Now, if you don’t watch HIMYM, I should tell you that while it is a comedy, it’s also one of those shows that typically has a lot of quotables about life in it. Such was the case on this penultimate episode before the series finale. The episode was designed to give us more insight into the relationship of the main character, Ted, and his would be wife (the mother of the title of the show). But in showing us more about their first date and the connection they immediately had, it also highlighted an important choice made at the end of the night by the would be mother, a choice that was juxtaposed to one seen in a flashback of someone leaving the wedding Ted attended just a few days before. The choice was to make sure that person remained.

Or as Ted put it while relaying the wedding story and the night of the first date to his future kids:

(flashback to the wedding) Barney: Blauman will cool off eventually. We’ll see him again.

Marshall: I don’t know, we might really never see him again. I remember at our wedding (looking at his wife) and thinking, man everyone here means so much to me. A bunch of those people, I haven’t seen them since.

(back to the present) Ted: And that’s how it goes, kids, the friends, neighbors, drinking buddies, and partners in crime you love so much when you’re young, as the years go by, you just lose touch. That being said, I did manage to keep in touch with a few people… (goes into montage of flashbacks and updates on friends)… You will be shocked, kids, when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it.

As soon as I heard that, it struck me like a lightning bolt. And it was in line with what I’d read in the book, The People Factor, that I told you all about earlier — that when you find the people you need in your life, you don’t let them slip away.

I believe we all have those people. The ones who God has put in our lives to journey with us for a lifetime. The ones He blesses us through. The ones for whom we wouldn’t be who we are without. And I think it’s our duty to figure out who those people are and choose to do something about keeping them around. That’s not an endorsement to hold on tight to no-good people, or to try to force someone who doesn’t want to be around you to remain. But, instead, it’s a reminder that we make choices every day that effect our lives.

And when you have a chance to do something that ensures you don’t lose one of your important people (or covenant partners as Van Moody would say), whether that’s a text saying I love you, a call just to hear their voice for 5 minutes, an email encouraging them on an endeavor they are facing, an impromptu visit, whatever that thing may be — you do it.

You just do it.

It’s that important.





Learning to Leap in Life/Love

9 10 2013
Photo: Oprah.com

Photo: Oprah.com

“Your belief in love wasn’t strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection.”

“Yea. Greatest regret of my life.”

– Exchange between two characters on Once Upon a Time

My mom gives great advice and usually, because she’s very southern and very New Orleans, it comes in the form of old sage sayings that sound funny at first, but make a whole lot of sense later. Such is the case with one saying she’s fond of repeating to me when I’m trying to make a hard decision (after she’s given me a great Bible verse too, of course) — she’ll say to me, “Now, whatever you do —  don’t jump from the pot to the frying pan.”

Sounds funny, but I get it. It means don’t move without purpose and find yourself leaving something you thought was bad and then ending up in something even worse.

Great advice. Really.

But somehow, I internalized this as simply “don’t jump.” And so typically, I am very cautious and methodical in the things that I do. I follow specific steps and observe and analyze and dissect almost all of my decisions and then at the very last possible minute, I finally stick my toe out there into the wading pool of whatever scary idea it is that I’ve concocted. And when nothing but my toe gets wet, even though – ugh, I put myself out there! – it sends another “don’t jump” signal straight to my brain.

But, here’s the crazy part — I never (or rather, very rarely) ever actually tried leaping into something passionately, full throttle, no life jacket on to protect me, so I couldn’t say for sure that jumping hurt as much as I thought it did.

In my brain, dipping my toe in and not getting what I wanted hurt so much that leaping was unimaginable. And I’ve missed out on things because of this.

The truth, though, is that leaping (passionately, full throttle, with no life jacket on) is what those big dreams thrive on. It’s what faith (in God and the promises He’s made to you) is all about. I’m learning that these days.

This lesson started as a lot of my lessons have this year, with me almost losing a very dear friend of mine in January. With being inspired by her faith and the leap it took for her to hold on when all odds were against her. With the jump it took for me and a significant amount of her friends and family to refuse to believe God’s plan for her life was complete. And with the passion that I still see her take on everything in her life to this day, even when her days are not so good.

When a friend of yours almost dies and still struggles, but has the faith to jump into the things that make her happy,  it makes you start to see things more clearly in your own life. At least it did for me. It made me realize that I needed to stop running from… everything, that I needed to make sure I was allowing myself to be happy even while I pursued my big dreams, that it was high time I lived life fully, and oh so many more revelations.

Now, I have to admit that this leaping thing is still scary as shit sometimes. Being open. Vulnerable. Really truly going for what and who you want – whew! – it’s not for the faint of heart. It feels like (to keep this metaphor going) you’re getting ready to dive into the deepest part of the ocean when you haven’t swam in 20 years. It can make you hesitate sometimes. It can make you think about just putting a toe in to check out the waters first.

But then, thankfully, I remember that as purely frightening as leaping can be, I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier than when I’m doing it. And so some part of me screams back to those doubts — “That ain’t no ocean! It’s a 6ft pool; it just seems bigger because it’s unfamiliar. But girl, you got this. JUMP!”

And so I do. I constantly find myself jumping these days… leaping… refusing to have the regret of not moving for fear of rejection. All I know is that damn frying pan better get out of my way.





On the Difficulty of One Particular Snicker bar

8 04 2013
Photo Credit: Fpcyorktown.org

Photo Credit: Fpcyorktown.org

Just as my little child brings his broken toys for me to mend, I took my broken dreams to God because He was my friend. At last I snatched them back and cried, ‘How could you be so slow?” “What could I do, my child”, he said. “You never did let go.”

Wade’s precious little broken cars: Anabel’s precious dreams — broken beyond my ability to repair. Sobbing, I show them to my Father and He gently says, “Do you want Me to work on them?” “Yes, Lord.” “Well, then — you’re going to have to let Me have them in My hands.”

“But, Lord, that means I’ll have to give up control! I’ve got to keep trying….” “The choice is yours, Anabel. You may keep them or give them to Me.” “But Lord, You — You seem to move so slowly! I’ve given them to You before and nothing happens!”

“Anabel, dear — I never had them in My hands.”

~ excerpt from Lifetime Guarantee Ministries’ Broken Cars and Broken Dreams

So, in February, I mentioned to you guys that I was letting go of my snicker bars. And I’ve been doing pretty well on that end, not just in physically letting go – but like, really really handing that snicker bar over.

But there’s always that one special case, right? And for me there was one that took a little longer, but it’s also the one that I think is making me stronger as I go along.

You see, in January, I realized that despite the fact that I’ve dated and had relationships over the past 3 years, I still hadn’t let go of Jake. Of course this didn’t come as a surprise to my closest friends, but to me – it was a shocker of all shocks, okay! You should have seen me, all indignant, fighting with God and lying to myself. “What do you mean,” I asked. “There’s no way I still have feelings for this man! No way.”

And then a quiet response would say, “But you do.”

“No. I don’t. You know how I know I don’t? I don’t hate him anymore. He doesn’t have the ability to make me sad or angry with just one call anymore. I’m good. We’re good.”

“But you’re not.”

On and on this went, for weeks, for a couple months… until finally, at the end of January, I relented.

“Do I really, though?”

“You do.”

Of course, all of this was occurring right in the midst of us reconnecting and working on building a legit friendship between the two of us for the first time. He was the one I was talking to about God the most. He was the one I was leaning on when it looked like a good friend of mine might not make it. He helped keep me strong so I could be a support for her. And yet… I was also coming to grips with the fact that maybe the reason none of the guys over the past 3 years had a real chance with me was because my heart hadn’t really been open to any of them.

I could no longer fight the truth. And once I acknowledged it, so much started making sense – like the fact that I’d been lamenting how no one excited me anymore, and how I’d felt that I was just going through the dating motions. Well duh, right?! If your heart is still holding onto someone else, of course you’re just going through the dating motions. So, in January I did one of the hardest things I’ve done in a while – I told him that despite the fact that I’d just agreed to us trying to start a-new, get reacquainted with each other and re-learn each other as friends, I’d changed my mind. I told him that we could no longer be in each others’ lives.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I’ve made similar declarations before when it concerns him. But what made it so different this time was that on the surface, we really were good. All we were really doing was catching up on our lives from the past few years, spending a couple hours just laughing and talking, checking in on each other throughout the week, and like I said earlier, discussing our relationships with God (something I really only did with my mom, dad and closest girl friends). This was nothing to write home about. We weren’t fighting. We weren’t even flirting. I wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t calling my best friend crying so hard that she thought someone was dying. There wasn’t any of the same crap that had caused those conversations before – but the result was eventually still the same.

In that initial conversation, we talked about my reasons, and I was probably the most honest I’d been with him in a very long time. I said everything. I said things I didn’t even really acknowledge until that actual conversation. And I felt that we both came away from our talk with a clear understanding. Still, I would soon realize that I was acting just like Anabel above. I’d given the snicker bar to God, but I hadn’t actually taken my hands off of it yet. I was still holding on, and I would get a wake-up call just a few weeks later when he wanted to talk again. And this time, even though the result was still the same – it hurt so much more to do it. This time, we were not good.

This time, I cried every day for almost a week. It was so strange too, because I’d be good throughout the day and then the hurt of it all would just hit me out of nowhere, and I’d start crying. And I honestly can’t even say why it hurt more this time than the last, because nothing had happened in those few weeks to change anything… but it did. And so sensing that I needed reinforcement, I called MandyPants, and it was like God was speaking through her to me.

She told me that she was proud of me, and that I should be proud of myself because we both knew that even 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have given the same answer. She told me that I should be happy, and that I shouldn’t beat myself up or feel like I was abandoning him; that I should look in the mirror and see how much I’d grown. It helped to hear those things, but I still wasn’t quite there.

Next came the dreams – these dreams that I would have almost every day of some grand gesture from him after he’d realized he was making the biggest mistake of his life, and he knew he needed me. The dreams were great, but they were also pretty horrible, and I found myself waking up in the morning pissed that I remembered them and angry that I was having them. I even found myself praying the scripture when Paul asks God to remove the thorn from him, and relating to the fact that God tells him no (several times – ugh!!), but then also says, “But my grace is sufficient.”

I tried to use that to get through the fact that my subconscious was clearly not on my side. And the fact that he was still texting me. And the fact that while I wanted him to stop texting me, I still slightly smiled when I saw his name come up on my screen.

That was weeks ago, and while the dreams haven’t completely stopped, they’re not the same as they were before. I’m not banking on him making some grand gesture for me – even my subconscious has given up on that idea. I’m not crying anymore and the hurting isn’t as strong. I don’t wake up in the morning upset with myself, and I’m not frustrated (all the time, at least) that it’s taken me this long to get through it. I’m happy. I wake up with joy. I get frustrated sometimes, but I quickly snap back, because I’m really working on putting my burdens, my hopes, my desires, my fears, etc (or rather my snicker bars, my toys, etc…) in God’s hands – not mine. And I think it’s making all the difference.

This time, it’s different.





Giving up the Snicker bar for the Full Course Meal

25 02 2013

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. – Malachi 3:10

I have dated a lot of snicker bars. Most have been good guys, but snicker bars nonetheless.

I realized this recently after hearing a sermon at church and then engaging in a conversation with a dear friend of mine. Both the sermon and conversation struck me pretty instantly, as they were about how we hold on tight to the things we have in life even when God is telling us to release them so He can provide us with more than we could ever imagine. Now, usually, this message is applied to tithing – the concept of giving God 10% of your gross – but as the minister explained in the sermon, our money is not the only place in which God asks us to sacrifice what we think we need, so that He can give us what we really need.

And upon reflection recently, I realized that this included some of the men in my life.

Now because I’m me – I had to break it down to really understand the message. “So basically, God is saying ‘hand over that snicker bar you’ve been holding onto that can only slightly satisfy you, that can only hold you over until the next hunger pain comes, that’s only really a band-aid to the real desires of your heart – and I’ll supply you with a full course meal. But you have to have the faith to let the snicker bar go first.'”

“Right,” my friend said, chuckling.  But even though she laughed at my analogy,  she also said that it was a pretty good way of breaking it down. And she had confirmation of that very concept in her life, as well. She’d seen firsthand the benefits of letting someone go who was a good guy, but not the guy for her. Since then, she’d come into so many blessings that she didn’t even expect, not the least of which was meeting the man whom she now called her fiance. And all of this came to pass not because the other guy was gone, but because she was obedient even when she didn’t want to be.

And so I thought about it. And thought about how many times I’ve dated guys that I knew wouldn’t last longer than a few months or how many times I’ve held onto guys that may have been good men, but I knew weren’t good men for me. How many times I tried to force a situation to work out because either “he was the right guy on paper,” or “everyone loved him,” or “he was an exciting fish in a pool full of unexciting prospects” or maybe even because “I loved him.” The answer, not-surprisingly, was quite a few. But why, I wondered.

Why, if I’m presented with a deal such as that (give me that little piece of candy and I’ll supply all your needs), do I hesitate and worry and question and get frustrated and lash out and of all things, hold on even tighter to that damn piece of candy? Why have I gotten angry and at times felt like God forgot about me? Why did I do the exact opposite of what He’s asking and then wonder why I keep finding myself hurt and confused?

And then I realized. It’s because faith is so much easier to handle when it’s discussed intellectually. But when it’s brought down to its elemental core and it’s applied to our specific lives, then it’s so not cut and dry. I can speak all day long about faith being an action word and how God is pleased by our faith and how it is the substance of things not seen, but the real question was how well was I actually applying it to my life. How willing was I to let go of the things I wanted when God said no?

In some things – really well. I’ve seen the manifestation of my faith in my career and in many of my other aspirations. But in those quiet moments, in the still of the night in my apartment, when questioning my relationships, I’d be lying if I said that was what I always relied on. I mean, how else do you explain all the snicker bars? All the men I’ve dated and not-so-much-dated who I knew weren’t right (whether it was a loud trumpet type of knowing or that quiet whisper telling me to move on), but refused to give up for whatever reason I thought of at the time?

And I’ve come up with some good reasons, y’all, to stay. Reasons like…

  • I didn’t try hard enough the first time around.
  • He didn’t get a chance to see the real me.
  • I was judgmental in the beginning.
  • Maybe I don’t need that spark/chemistry to make things work?
  • But it was, like, fate – how we met!
  • But we came back into each others’ lives – see? Fate! (again)
  • He gets me.
  • He really likes me. Like, a lot. So maybe I should like him?
  • He needs me.
  • I don’t know who I am without him.

And on and on, I’d make excuses. I’d give all these reasons for why God was wrong and why I really needed that snicker bar… and I was never free. So now – I’m trying something different. Actually, I’ve been working on it for quite some time, but I’m telling you all about it now.

I’m giving up my snicker bars. I’m letting go of the things that are no longer fulfilling in my life. I’m jumping out there and trusting God’s plan. And I’m nervous as heck, and in some instances – it hurts more than I can dare to write here, but I’m also really really hopeful for the future.