My pastor’s words hit me so hard, I stopped dead in my tracks. Do the work. I thought. You have to do the work.
My 2017 wasn’t ideal, I got laid off, again. I entered a long distance relationship for the second time, something I swore up and down that I wouldn’t do again and honestly, I entered 2018 with no idea what the hell I was going to do.
The thing that no one makes clear when you’re in college and growing up is that you are literally on your own. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a support system, but at the end of the day, you are the only one with the power to determine your destiny.
I’m a writer. I freelance and I’m working on a book series. So, I hear the word no a lot. Like, a lot. I even have a folder in my email full of nos from book agents, job opportunities and pitches to editors. It seems cryptic doesn’t it? Who wants to relive their failures over and over again? I don’t. But it does fuel me. It’s a reminder of where I’ve come from and where I’m headed.
Last week marked three months of unemployment. It doesn’t even feel like it’s been that long. I didn’t realize it until a coworker posted about it on Facebook. Then this sinking feeling set in. Like, damn. Here I am, again.
If nothing else, the last two years have tested my faith and brought me closer to God in ways that would not have happened otherwise. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom, like no one understands what you’re going through or even cares, God does. He’s always there, He’s always listening.
This time around when I’ve been at my worst, I’ve cried out to Him. “Lord, what are you doing?” or “What am I supposed to learn from this?” or my favorite as of late “What is your plan? Show me your plan, order my steps.”
Over the last three months there have been some opportunities that felt perfect. Ones that I knew I was going to get, but then I didn’t get them. As I write this, I have about 20 days to figure it out. Twenty days until my lease is up and I have to move back home.
Last week, I read a three-day devotional titled When God Says No. It was just what I needed. Growing up in church, I was always taught that God doesn’t say no. He either says yes, or, I have something better. That brought me comfort. It still does. Every time I get a no, I believe it’s because God has something better planned. And if an opportunity that seems so perfect wasn’t right for me, that means He’s really got something amazing up His sleeve. He even says so in Ephesians 3:20:
“God has more in store for you than you can even imagine.”
And He does have something amazing planned. For me, for my family, even for you reader. Even if you don’t believe in Him or haven’t opened your Bible in weeks, months, years, He is still working on your behalf. What’s amazing about God is that He doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t hold our failures against us. He continues to work on our behalf.
Growing up, when my dad told me to do something I didn’t want to I’d ask why. His response would almost always be “it builds character.” I don’t even think I knew what he meant at the time, but I knew it was a battle I couldn’t win. So, I’d complete whatever task was asked of me and move on.
Over the last few months I’ve asked my heavenly Father why I have to go down this path. Why whatever He’s trying to teach me had to happen this way. As I read day one of the aforementioned devotion, I got an answer:
There’s that word again. Character.
In my short 24 years of life, every no, every denial that felt like the end has always really just been the beginning of something great. It’s hard to see when the sky is so dark and the fog so thick that you can barely see to take the next step. But that’s what faith is.
I’m writing this knowing that I have no idea what happens next. I don’t know what God has in store for me. But I know it’s great. This waiting, this heartache, is preparing me for something better.
I want to close with a short story. On Saturday, as I wrapped up my workout a song from my god-fathers wedding playlist came on shuffle. It immediately brought me to tears. The song has a message of encouragement, of holding on and pressing forward even when you want to give up. It says that there is a master plan in motion being set by our creator. And what He has for you friend, is really going to blow your mind.
So, if your find yourself in a slow season. A time of depression, unhappiness or failure. It’s okay. Know that you’re not alone. Know that you are valid in how you feel. But please, keep going. I promise you, the best is yet to come.
There is power in prayer. If you’d like me, or anyone who may be reading this to pray for you, leave a note in the comments and we will lift you up in prayer. If you don’t want it to be public, you can email me, or DM me on Twitter. You’ve got this!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. –Galatians 1:10
Galatians 1:10 poses a great question: Am I trying to win the approval of humans or God? It goes on to say if we’re trying to please people, then we’re not being servants of Christ.
I’ll be honest, when I started this blog, I had monetization in mind. I knew I wouldn’t be willing to pub just anyone’s product or collaborate with everyone, but I hoped to build an audience that trusts me and enjoys my content enough to keep coming back. Sidenote: I know this takes time. I’m not expecting you to follow, like or share anything just because I ask. I truly appreciate you, reader. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there. You taking the time to read mine, means the world. Seriously.
For the past few years, I have been asking God to show me my purpose. I’ve always felt like I was put on this Earth to write and I still do. Specifically, I believe my writing should give a voice to the voiceless. For me, that has meant marginalized folks, especially black women.
Lately, I’ve struggled with how to use this gift though. I need to make money to pay bills and save and such, but I often question, especially with this blog how I can add value and minister to people. I know I just started this journey, (it’s literally been two weeks) but this is why all my other blogs failed. I hit a wall and started thinking there was no point to what I was doing.
Currently, I’m reading a devotion called The Discovery: Exploring God’s Call on Your Life. I highly recommend it. It’s different from other devotions on the Bible app because it requires you to journal your thoughts each day. This is especially helpful because at the end of the 35-day plan, you’ll be able to see how your thoughts have changed and what you’ve learned about yourself.
I’ve always considered myself pretty lucky for knowing and pursuing my gift at such a young age. I was in kindergarten when I said I wanted to be an author. Now, at 24, I’ve written a novel, started a second one and I’ve got ideas brewing about a memoir/self help book. Still, I keep coming to one question: What’s the point? How will I uplift God on this blog? In my writing period?
Award shows are my absolute favorite type of TV. I love live tweeting with #BlackTwitter and hearing all the thank you speeches. I remember growing up and watching them being surprised at the people who thanked God. Often, it was the first time I was hearing some of my favorite celebrities mention Him. I don’t want to be like that. Only praising God when I win. When something goes well. That’s when it’s easy to praise Him, to thank Him, to read my Bible every day.
I’m approaching my blogging and writing career the same way Chance the Rapper approaches his music career. I’m not a Christian blogger, I’m a blogger who is a Christian. That means I’m flawed, a sinner and undeserving of a lot of the things I have. I’m not going to post solely about my walk with Christ, or my interpretation of Bible verses, but my faith is central to my life and so it will come up often.
I’m not positive how I will uplift Him as I start this blogging journey; I sincerely hope to be an example of how following Christ has nothing to do with being perfect and everything to do with being flawed and broken, but still worthy.
If you’re struggling to find your path, or unsure about God’s plan for your life, I encourage you to download the Bible app. Pick a plan that sticks out to you, or revisit verses from your childhood. You do not have to be on point all the time. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
What verse(s) do you turn to when you need encouraging? Let me know in the comments below.
There’s no good way to say this: In college, I was a brand whore. I cared more about titles and name dropping the right people than I did producing anything worthy of attention. It wasn’t all bad though.
The “networking” (read: gassing people up in hopes that they’d remember me in the future) got me a spot at Teen Vogue’s Fashion University. I was able to work for some pretty large brands in college: Dell and Bud Light. So, I stuck with it. I kept chasing titles and companies that would impress people when I told them what I did.
My first job out of college was at the largest employee-owned ad agency in the country. My clients; Hershey, Anheuser Busch and FoodSaver. It was impressive. I look back on the opportunities I’ve had in my short 24 years of life and it’s all impressive. But I’ve been miserable doing almost all of it.
I didn’t know that I wanted to work for myself while doing all these “impressive” things, but I did know I was sick of helping these multi-million dollar companies look good while I struggled to find my footing. When I think about how much time I spent at my desk unhappy; how many mornings I cried begging God to show me a way out of my unhappiness, I realize it was all for a greater purpose. His purpose.
I was scared. I am scared. Terrified. I didn’t (and don’t) want to fail.
But I already have. I’ve been laid of twice. I’ve heard no countless times. I have a folder full of denial emails for a manuscript it took five years to write. Still, I feel that I have to do this. This blog. This journey. It’s a dream I’ve always had and I can either spend my time daydreaming about it or I can work for it.
What I didn’t realize in college is that there is no rule that says a big publication, celebrity endorsement or large social media following will make you’re dreams come true.
Growing up, my parents had this big paper weight in our home office. On it were the words of John C. Maxwell: Dreams don’t work unless you do.
So, that’s why I’m here. Failure is part of life. No one is immune to it. Not even Oprah (she was fired at 23 just like me y’all). Everything that you’re dreaming of doing in life is already inside you. Everything that you’ve gone through has a purpose and has made you who you are today. I promise you have the power to do it. I promise you are good enough. Write that book, plan that trip, host that event, create that strategy. The world needs it. The word deserves it.
I want to leave you all with a video I watch often. Usually when I hear another no. Bronzegoddess01 is a YouTuber who just knew she needed Oprah to take her career to the next level. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t reach her. Below is what she did instead.
“Trust in whatever interests you, confuses you or compels you. Trust that those things are worth writing about.” – Rita Dove
Share your fears in the comments below; or, name your failures and how you’ve overcome them. If you aren’t sure where to start, let’s chat. My DMs are always open and you can email me anytime.