Who Were You Before the Fall?

My word! I’ve been MIA for a long while.

I mentioned in a previous post that I quit my job. I mentioned how okay I was with whatever direction my life took. That was true then, but the longer I stayed unemployed, I realized how not okay I was.

I ended up getting a job working 3rd shift at a homeless shelter that was only willing to work me as a volunteer until they wanted to finally pay me. After a couple of times of being duped, I quit. Things taken out of desperation rarely work out.

Then, I was hired as a substitute for the county I live in. Great! I get to work with kids, stretch my legs as a teacher. All good in theory, but children in real life are crafty. I will admit I lost my way (and my nerve) the first week, but by the second week I was prepared. I got really good at it and was recommended often. I enjoyed it and the kids enjoyed me, but I couldn’t afford to pay every single thing that I was responsible for, so yet again I went looking for something else to satisfy my financial needs.

Now, I work as a debt collector or “professional negotiator.” Either way, it’s about collecting money from people who are probably gonna use their credit card to avoid bad credit. Oh, the irony. I digress. All of this moving and shaking sounds like what? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an O and ends with compensating.

Since October, I have been overcompensating with everything in my life. I’ve overcompensated with jobs, with church, with my finances, with family obligations all to cover up the fact that I was freaking out about a decision I made which seemed irreversible.

Admittedly, in my self-denial and self-pity, I became self-consumed. I checked out of the blog. I checked out of my friendships. I checked out mentally because why hold a conversation when it wasn’t about me? Consciously, that wasn’t my thought process, but it might as well have been. We all have our own stories. Some stories have a lot of highs and little lows. Other stories start out dipping low and maybe a few times get high. Most stories, I like to believe, fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever the case, I lost sight of the bigger picture. I lost sight of everything that once made me love my life.

Fortunately, Christ is real. The hole that took me years (this extends way before me leaving my job in October…more like when I accepted the position) to dig, will take some time to climb out of, but it’s not impossible. Brick by brick I am being pieced back together because Christ is the Redeemer. He is the Ultimate Fixer. I’ve been trying to do things how I want to do them because I thought I had the “best possible outcome.” That’s not true when you’re walking with God. He creates the best possible outcome. He determines my destiny.

My level of transparency in this post is intentional. I do myself, this blog, and my walk with God a great injustice if I don’t paint the entire picture. Life ain’t all rainbows, sunshine, and good feels. Sometimes it’s walking through the valley and keeping a brave face. Currently, I find myself actively battling my indifference towards every situation in my life.

So, where am I now? I’m sitting in my car reciting a question prompted by my manager this morning: “What made you successful in the beginning before a slump happened?” Truthfully, I have no freaking idea. I’m on a road to finding this vocation that everyone seems to think I have, and I’ll tell you what, I think I’m not where I’m supposed to be, and that truth makes me uncomfortable enough to move in the right direction.

February Fruits

Enjoy!

1. You’re already okay. An okay, put together you exists right now if you believe it and claim it for yourself.

2. When you realign with God, you receive a confirmation of your placement.

3. Humor children. Answer their questions. Don’t think they can’t handle the truth.

4. Always check your heart.

5. Always pray for your students.

6. Don’t be afraid to step into what you’ve been called to do. Welcome the new opportunities.

7. Just because you don’t see what someone else sees in you doesn’t mean you won’t ever see it. It means you’re not ready for it yet.

8. Continue to compliment Papa on His Creation.

9. Wait on The Lord.

10. When you stop reading The Word, sin becomes easier to justify.

11. It’s so difficult to hear, but even in the terrible, life-altering, traumatic experiences, God was still there.

12. People come to you saying different things like “this might seem selfish…” or “this might be rude…” or “this might be mean/racist/etc.” reply with, “If you don’t want to be selfish/rude/mean/etc. then don’t be.” It really is that simple.

13. You can’t just say you need help. You have to be willing to receive it.

14. Not judging is one thing. Not compromising your beliefs is another. Know the difference.

15. You are a sweet, gentle spirit.

16. Move past theory into practice.

17. Impacting 1 child out of 30 is and will always be a victory.

18. When you wanna quit someone because you don’t understand them, don’t. Move towards them. Watch how your perspective shifts.

19. There is beauty in growth.

20. You remember The Wiz? “Home is not just a place you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind. Knowing your heart. Knowing your courage. And when we know ourselves, we’re home anywhere.” Know, without doubt, exactly who you are. You are God’s special possession before you are anything else.

21. Ask others about their dreams. Listen. Match their excitement. This is something precious to them.

22. There are no bad students. There’s bad behavior.

23. When God rains, He pours.

24. Self-care ain’t all bubble baths and Netflix. Sometimes it’s paying your mortgage before your car note.

25. “Be a thermostat, not a temperature.”

26. Listen. You don’t have tinted windows. People see you dancing. So, if you can dance in your car, then you can dance at church. There’s only a mental block because you put it there.

27. Shyness sometimes comes from never wanting to be embarrassed, which is a manifestation of pride. Cut that out.

28. Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” God’s gonna do what He says He’s gonna do because He said He was gonna do it. That’s just who He is, so don’t you worry ’bout a thing. God’s got it.

For the Six Other Days

I want

an expression of faith

not

religious practice.

I want

a wisdom that surpasses all earthly knowledge

not

intellectualism.

I want

a relationship that only ebbs and flows

with the movements of Christ

not

a religion with rules that only ebbs and flows

with legalism and rituals.

I want

inexplicable supernatural experiences

not

a superficial love movement built on good feelings.

Give me

Passion worth dying for

Dedication worth pursuing

Love worth responding to

Peace that is everlasting.

Leave

Pride disguised as shyness

Anxiety disguised as jittery hands

Loneliness disguised as silence

Resentment disguised as criticism.

Instead,

Greet me with

A humble beginning

A virtuous love

A kindness of heart.

Show me

God.

Give Your Dreams to the Wind

Say your dreams out loud. Let the wind carry them off to the right ears.

Say your dreams out loud. Watch God as He takes the smallest of seeds and grows it exponentially. Delight in every part of the process.

Say your dreams out loud. Give specifics and be excited about them! Do not hoard them or save them up for a rainy day.

Say your dreams out loud. Appreciate those who help you attain them. Love those who doubt you.

Say your dreams out loud. Give them away freely to people on the train, in the park, or at your job. Know your softly spoken dreams are protected against all threats.

Say your dreams out loud. They are your dreams, and they are worth having. They are worth pursuing. They are worth every hurdle and every frustration. Your dreams are where you will find life’s simplest treasures, so say your dreams out loud.

Some People Just Care…

…is number 26 on my January Jewels list. I’ve written this blog post at least six times, and it doesn’t matter what words I use or what order I put them in, I still can’t bring myself to understand the notion of someone caring without an incentive. That’s a wee bit sad. I’m so used to everything else, but the moment there’s a good-hearted person, I’m out here withholding information and testing the boundaries of any given situation. Backwards, right?

I wrote some people just care and thought about people in general and a surface kind of caring. Now I’m thinking about one person in particular—A, who I mentioned in A Friend Loves at All Times.

This isn’t a surface type of caring like someone saying, “Get home safely!” or “Text me when you’re home!” It’s more than that. It’s a type of caring that gives you locks and asks for frequent updates when your home has been compromised. It is a type of caring that calls for three reasons. The first one to ask you to describe your Bible study. The second reason to say that she figured that was the answer, so she bought you a devotional book. And the last reason is to read you a Psalm. It’s a type of caring that when met with the distress in my voice immediately responded with, “We’re going to lunch. What do you want to eat?” A is the definition of love does.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading Bob Goff’s Love Does. That’s the whole book: Love does. Love doesn’t say it’ll do something with no follow-through. Love doesn’t only think about helping or doing. Love doesn’t mock or tease. Love does. That’s A. I’m gonna level with you, I assumed Goff was 1 in a 100 million and this wasn’t ordinary practice, yet here I am a living, breathing recipient of it.

I know I can annoy and maybe even tire A out, yet she still picks up the phone. She still tries to understand me. She still tries to connect with me. She keeps caring, and that’s a radical type of caring that makes me wanna do what she’s doing.

I’ve written all of this about seven different ways just to say that people who choose to love no matter how annoyed or uncertain they are, might be the best kind of people. Because, after everything, they still decided on love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love in a way that puts all other loves to shame. Maybe that’s what I was trying to say.