Little by Little

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.” Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Right now, I’m sitting on my patio listening to the trees rustle and my neighbor’s garage open. The Sun is blinding. I’m sitting typing on my phone. My brother and nephew constantly interrupting any growing thought I might have.

I’m loving every second of it.

Last month, I quit my job. I walked out midday and didn’t look back. I screamed of victory and restoration. I screamed for joy. I screamed for freedom, which comes close to the freedom I felt the day I was saved.

One of my friends, my parents, my brother, they all asked me what it felt like, and for over a month I have been failing myself to describe what it is I feel. That quote is what it feels like. I don’t know where I’m going. I have no idea what I’m going to pass, but I know, eventually, I will get to where I’m supposed to be.

I look at the time, and I know if I were at that job, I’d be sitting in a grey cube, listening to people complain, and calculating the time in which I will be relieved. I wouldn’t have seen the Sun. I wouldn’t have experienced all the things that happen during my days now. There would be no volunteering, no serving. There would be no working my own hours and earning twice an hour what I made at that job. There would be no passion.

I’m grateful that the job I had was the provision I needed until I found the courage to step out into what is unknown. I thank that job for being what I needed it to be at that time, but my GOD, do I thank for saying, “It is done.”

So, I’m sitting on my patio, watching the Sun park itself behind my neighbor’s trees. I’m watching bees fly around my ankles. I hear my family playing basketball, and I feel it: My cup runneth over. I can only see a few feet in front of me. I have no idea what else I’ll get the privilege of witnessing, but I know it’s going to be good.

Life is not about doing what you want to do or about what you have to do, it’s about doing what God tells you to do. I was terrified of quitting because all I could think of was the bills I have to pay, but God says, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” It wasn’t until I left that I realized, my stuff owned me. I was living to pay bills and be mediocre. That’s not my intended use.

I’m not sure how or when the things I know to be true will come to pass, but I wholeheartedly believe, that they will come. I finally found the words to say, and it is a relief.

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No Limits

You choose every day. You choose what you do, how you respond, your behavior, what you wear, if you choose to dwell on what someone said or what they didn’t say. You can choose to let your life happen–only going from home to work and back again, or you can choose to be extraordinary. No limits exist for you except the ones you create. If you were to believe, honestly believe, that nothing is impossible with God, then would it matter that you are unconventional in your path? Could you then measure your successes and failures with another?

All experiences gear us up for a story. Is yours amazing? Worthwhile? Did you risk it all? Let your trials and your limitless God push you into a radical life like Jesus.

October Nuggets 

1. Salvation is for everyone. 

2. Everyone deserves a second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and twenty-ninth chance. Everyone deserves forgiveness. No one gets to be self-righteous. 

3. Loving thy neighbor doesn’t mean a superficial love. It means if the behavior you are performing was done to you, would you like it? If the answer is no, then love differently. 

4. What you believe, you achieve. You must work to have faith of the Centurion, so when Jesus says, “You’re good,,” you know that. 

5. Once you realize who your Savior is, you’re already free from those shackles around your ankles.  

6. God has orchestrated your life perfectly. He has given you what you needed before you knew you needed it. 

7. Don’t be afraid to be honest with Him because you feel ashamed. He knows it’s there, and He wants to take it from you. 

8. You must always give. 

9. Be a fool for Jesus. 

10. Recognize all His promises—from Genesis to Revelation—and act accordingly. 

11. Don’t be afraid of your life-defining moments. 

12. Sometimes the loudest one telling you you can’t is yourself. 

13. Find one good thing about every single person you meet and tell that person that compliment. They are God’s special possession too. 

14. Love with a love that puts all other loves to shame. 

15. Those who reject the truth in public but embrace it in private need to be corrected not shamed. 

16. Dance like David. Sacrifice like Abraham. Remain faithful like Ruth. Reform like Hezekiah. Evangelize like Paul. 

17. Just do what He says. He will not force you to do it, but every single thing bends to His will, so eventually you will do what He originally asked of you. His Word never comes back void. 

18. Have a moment in your day when you welcome the Counselor (The Holy Spirit) back into your day. 

19. Know that when you are in Him, you will run and not grow weary. 

20. Seek understanding as much as you seek wisdom. 

21. Intercede on everyone’s behalf. The woman at Waffle House, your mailman, your neighbor, your distant relatives, that man you met in the park once, that woman whose car broke down at Kroger. Everyone needs prayer all the time under all circumstances. 

22. The same measure that you judge you will be judged. Do not look at someone and call them an eye sore. Do not look at someone and call them a snake. Do not look at someone and call them something other than redeemed, cherished, priceless, one of God’s special, anointed children. 

23. You always need both parents. 

24. Pray and write down your goals. Let God do the rest. 

25. Do not entertain arguments with other Christians about how you express your relationship with God. Whether those differences happen in tithing or worship, disregard it. There should not be any division in the Body of Christ. 

26. Sit and talk with your Father and your father. 

27. Don’t ever allow someone to tack on their earthly ideas to your spiritual existence. You do not govern your life by things of this world but by God and His Word. 

28. In every circumstance of your life, you are taken care of, so do not worry about anything. He makes a way out of no way. 

29. Don’t wait to give someone flowers at their funeral. Love them now. 

30. All greatest journeys begin with forgiveness. 

31. Try again. Love again. Dream again. 

I ripped off all my nails. 

Well, not the nail beds, just the calcium soaked powder that was covering them. They were a lovely mint chocolate chip. I’ve had the color for about three weeks, so I was due for an appointment. The difference between the last two nights and the end of a three week nail change was that I didn’t want to go. I didn’t care what color they were. I missed what was beneath the color. I missed my regular nails. Sure, I could’ve attributed this sudden change of habit up to “it’s hot and who cares,” but there was something else there–I never really cared. 

Office politics is something serious, and the moment you open your mouth is the moment you make an unspoken allegiance with the people around you. Bonds gets even more intense once you divide people up by departments. It’s nearly almost as bad as having football rivalries. I made my allegiance a year into my current job, not because I wanted to, but because these women seemed nice enough. They are older than me, and I felt could make the day go by quicker when you have people to laugh with. That is partially true. What ended up happening, though, is that they would pick and poke at me, enough for me to question why I wore certain things and why I didn’t do certain things with my hair. Why wasn’t my nail polish lasting a week? Silly things. 

Eventually, I succumbed. I assimilated and cared about what they cared about. When asked about the things I genuinely loved to do, I earned weird looks and a pretty cumulative response of, “Black people don’t do the outdoors.” As annoying as it was, I was used to it. However, no matter how normal their response was, I hadn’t prepared for the influence that followed. I stopped talking about my hobbies. I started indulging more into how these women were living. Although it made me feel a short-lived thrill, the pleasure was not sustaining. I blinked and months went by. I kept on doing less of me and more of them. 

There’s a couple reasons why this is wrong. The first being I hated the habits it created. I began to gossip. I looked at people on a superficial level. I talked first and thought later. I hated who I was becoming because I knew I wasn’t that person. The second, and most important one, I was filling up on the wrong thing. I allowed these people, no matter how good-intentioned, to plant seeds on why I needed to be different and why I needed to look like them. This, although arguably incorrect, is how they tried to love me where I was at. They loved me by trying to improve me. 

My interests have never truly aligned with my demographic. Statistically, culturally, and stereotypically I should fall somewhere on the other end of the spectrum, but I don’t. I never let my background keep me from the things that I love to do, like gardening, hiking, being outside. I was always okay with my interests not aligning up with who I was expected to be. However, here I was at 24/25 still hadn’t come into the woman my family, the world, and admittedly myself expected me to be. I gave into the change I thought I needed. I abided in the world. 

However, last night, as I laid acetone soaked cotton balls on my nails, waited twenty minutes, then buffed away the remaining color, I laughed at the obvious: I’m too old to sit with nails I don’t like, wearing clothes that make me uncomfortable, and talking about things that have no value. Pre-nail ripping, maybe 4 or so months ago, I was able to nip some of the bad habits, the gossip, the superficial, but the nails remained. The “Them” I filled up on was running on empty. 

My Pastor says, “Don’t do you. Do God.” I’d like to make an amendment to his statement. “Don’t do you. Definitely don’t do them. Always do God.” As I was so graciously reminded today, common sense ain’t all that common, and what I should’ve known, I didn’t. 

I’m gonna be honest with you, I assumed “doing God” was all about reading my Bible, constantly being in prayer, going to most church events, having miraculous revelations, and not once making any mistakes. Always incorrect. I am always incorrect. Those things are true, yes, but when you abide in Him, He draws out things you have long sense forgot about. He teaches you in ways you would’ve never expected. He graces you with wisdom and knowledge of His ways that are both humbling and exhilarating. 

For example, it is very well known that I am terrified of heights. I get the reward of beautiful views when I make it to the top of a mountain or down in a canyon, but you better believe I’m crying the whole way through and through. With that being said, I have an overwhelming desire to go rock climbing. This is a desire that has sparked enough interest to turn into a hobby. The act of climbing is more welcoming than the fear of heights. I get excited just thinking about the distance I can make vertically. 
 

You see, I longed to be like everyone else to like what they like, look like they look, then maybe I could annihilate this feeling of foreignness in the pit of my core. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Emphasis mine.) I abided in God, which meant I decided to not live in fear. God and fear cannot co-exist and neither can the endless chatter from the world exist with God. 

Sometimes, God is telling me to sit and wait on Him. Sometimes, He’s calling me out on the water. But all the time, He’s reminding me to look to Him. I forget that because He is God, He is God over everything. That means that I don’t have to be fearful of heights. I don’t have to be anxious in social situations. I don’t need to fit in with everyone else. I fit in just fine with Him. So, maybe, God is telling me to get dolled up and spend some alone time with myself. But maybe, He’s telling me to trust what I’ve never known (and never liked), and in that trust, is a rich experience that will deepen our relationship. When I abide less in this world and more in Him, I grow every single time. I forget that a lot too. 

So I’m looking at my nails, my scratched up, low cut nails. I think about how pretty they looked before. It’ll take some time for them to get back to how they were, and I can barely remember what they looked like when they were healthy. But, as with all things, they will come back healthier and stronger than they were before. 

After all, what good is pretty if they aren’t strong?