Today was a blah day. This whole week I’ve been low on energy. Tonight on my way home, a young homeless man called out to me as I walked past with a classmate, “Can you buy me something to eat?” This is a common question in New York City. I do what I can when I can, and basically keep it moving. I asked him if he knew what he wanted. He said yes. We went into the restaurant. My classmate followed. There was a line; he and I got in it. My classmate had a large bag so she stood off to the side.
I started asking him questions. Are you a student? How long have you been homeless? Where do you normally stay? How long have you lived in New York? How are you doing overall? He answered some of the questions and deflected others, but he was very adamant in telling me what bothered him about the world. “How am I doing,” he repeated. “How should I be doing when so many people hate me? People hate me because I’m gay. They hate me because I sing and they don’t want me too. They don’t want me to be anything and they tell me that. But I’m not going to hate them back. And I’m going to keep singing.”
I looked him in the eye and said, “Can I share something with you that I’ve learned over the last twenty years?”
He looked taken aback. “I shared that with you because I thought you wanted me to be real,” he said cautiously.
“I do. Thank you for sharing. I just want to save you some time and energy. From the last twenty years of my life, I can tell you: people don’t hate you because you’re gay. People hate you because people are hateful. It’s just people being people. Don’t over-complicate it. I can’t tell you how often I asked myself , ‘Why me? Why are people treating me like this or that? What if I was different? What if I did what they wanted me to do? What if I was a better person?’ But you know what? None of that mattered. People hated me because they wanted to. Hate is what people do. I had to learn to appreciate who I am. You need accept who you are. When you accept all the various aspects of yourself, other peoples’ thoughts about you will no longer matter. Learn to appreciate yourself. Learn to love yourself.”
He looked a bit dreamy-eyed and touched his head to my shoulder for a second – I admit I wasn’t expecting that. Then he looked me in the eye and asked if he could sing me a song.
“I’m not one to silence anyone’s voice,” I replied, “please do.” We were still in the middle of a slow-moving line in a restaurant in Union Square. He began singing a beautiful song in his beautiful voice. Halfway through I began lip-syncing along with him. My heart was lifted and I believe he lifted the hearts of several people in the line also.
He sang I Still Believe by Brenda K. Starr; the song was later covered by Mariah Carey.
When he finished, I had more questions for him, as did my classmate and soon we were at the register. He ordered his meal and I asked him his name.
Brandon. His name is Brandon.
A short while later, after leaving the restaurant and parting with my classmate, I searched online for the song he sang to me. If there’s one spark of hope left in my grasp, I’ll hold it with both hands. It’s worth the risk of burning to have a second chance…If we believe that true love never has to end, then we must know that we will love again.
What Brandon gave me
I was in need of a song. I desperately needed a word. Brandon started his serenade off with “You looked into my eyes….”
Shortly before me and my classmate came into contact with Brandon, my classmate saw someone on campus from another of her classes. She walked up to this woman and said, “Do you see me?” Before we parted company with that woman, my classmate told her, “When you see me, say ‘hi’ and I will do the same.” The woman was taken aback by both statements, however the first statement she didn’t take literally at first and she asked, “How do you mean, ‘Do I see you’?” However by the end of their conversation she understood it literally and returned to the first question to answer succinctly, “This is the first time I am seeing you and I did speak.”
Brandon gave me clarity.
I see people for who they are. I hear the things they don’t say. I feel their pain, confusion and their sense of loss. That’s what they willingly reveal to me… until they realize that in understanding their pain, I’m also able to follow them when they withdraw and hide within themselves. I invade their hiding places. I confront them in their fears. All this happens simply through the sharing of conversation.
Every friend I’ve gained through conversation, I have also loss through conversation. People are happy to tell you what they think you want to hear, but they can’t stand to share the truth of themselves. I have no problem with sharing my truth, but I’ve come to learn that my openness is the beginning of the end of my friend and family relationships. People reject openness, honesty, truth and love. After so many endings, I had started to despair that I could ever love people through, and beyond, their rejection of me.
And then during a random encounter with a young man named Brandon, I was briefly pulled out of hiding and heard that I will love again.
I wasn’t expecting much from the day when I awoke this morning. It’s been snowing heavy in the northeast this week. Yesterday I braved the weather and went to work. This morning, before getting out of bed, my dominant thought was: please let it be bad enough outside so I’m justified in staying put and working from home. After dragging myself out of bed, I tripped into the living room to look out the window.
As I pulled back the curtain and opened the blinds I was nearly blinded by the brightness of the sun bouncing off the pristine white snow piled high on my patio.
My first thought was: It’s beautiful out.
Second thought: All this snow will melt in no time in the blazing mid-30 degree sun.
Third: There’s no excuse not to go to work.
On the agenda for the day was lunch with a friend and Bible study after work. Staying home to work didn’t really save me from anything because I had other commitments that required me to leave my apartment.
Lunch was heart wrenching. My friend is dealing with life altering issues from various areas of his life he believes he has to be a bulwark of strength for. I left him with the message: Gentleness is strength.
From my own experience, it’s when I try my hardest to be strong – exhibiting my idea of strength, anyway – that I am the most brittle. In my brittleness, I easily break. However, as I learned again that evening, it is in my gentleness that others see power and strength in me.
After lunch, I headed to the office. I did my best to be productive on a Friday afternoon before a three-day holiday weekend (*wink, wink*). On my way to Bible study I actually stopped in the McDonald’s next door to my church for a Shamrock shake. It’s my favorite special shake and I haven’t had one mixed with chocolate in years. (Side note: This is how the enemy distracts us – in very innocuous ways.) I was going to take the shake to go but decided to sit and enjoy it. But when I finished I was in no hurry to leave. I sat there staring out the window looking at people rush past, half listening to a conversation of two foreigners, one African and one European, discuss their origins. The African was claiming he was from America. He had one of the thickest African accents I had ever heard and the European wasn’t convinced either. Oddly enough, the European claimed he was from France and he didn’t sound too French either…. Anyway, I found myself sitting there listening to their debate about origins and identity for several minutes after I had finished my shake.
Eventually, I made my way up to the Bible study. Sat in the back of the room. Attempted to take notes. I was so not interested. I wanted to go home. Since I had missed most of the study (leaving work late and sitting in McDonald’s), it was over in no time. Yet, I sat there in my seat. Playing with my device. The woman in front of me left the room, but not with her things. The man sitting next to her turned to me and said, “God bless you, sister.”
I responded in kind. In the next breath he was pouring out his heart. He’s a veteran. He has nightmares from multiple tours in war zones. He recalled parachuting with comrades behind enemy lines and seeing his fellows getting shot down in the air. Worst yet, he shared the horror of holding on to a fallen soldier as a shield. And worse than that, later seeing his best friend get shot in the head next to him while they were in a dug out. His mom and sister died in the States while he was away fighting. Even worse than all that, when he finally returned stateside with shrapnel in his body, he was denied benefits and had to fight for treatment. On top of all that, he’s homeless.
As he looked at me, tears filled his eyes and he asked me, “How can I ever get these thoughts out of my head? How can I stop seeing these visions over and over again? Is it possible for me to have peace? I want the peace that Christ offers.”
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: I saw this man as the reason I fought my lethargy all day. I hadn’t experienced loss, death and homelessness in the same way he had, but I had experienced it. I knew what it was to be a target of an enemy intent on stealing my next breath and all my hope. I knew what it was to wonder if God was even paying attention to me, if He was even aware of what was going on in my life. I shared that with him, then I asked him two questions: (1) Can I share a scripture passage that helped me this week? (2) Can I hug you?
He said yes to both.
I intended to read Philippians 4:1-9 to him. I had been meditating on this passage during the week. But a few sentences in, I realized the chapter had advanced on my tablet. I looked up and told him, “This passage is intended for you, because it’s not the passage I turned to.”
1. From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am an apostle because that is what God wanted. Also from Timothy, our brother.
2 To the holy and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ that live in Colossae:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
3 In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 because we have heard about the faith you have in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all of God’s people. 5 You have this faith and love because of your hope, and what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You learned about this hope when you heard the message about the truth, the Good News 6 that was told to you. Everywhere in the world that Good News is bringing blessings and is growing. This has happened with you, too, since you heard the Good News and understood the truth about the grace of God. 7 You learned about God’s grace from Epaphras, whom we love. He works together with us and is a faithful servant of Christ for us. 8 He also told us about the love you have from the Holy Spirit.
9 Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things 10 so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. 11 God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient. 12 And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light. 13 God has freed us from the power of darkness, and he brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son. 14 The Son paid for our sins, and in him we have forgiveness.
For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers.So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth. ~ 3 John 7-8, NLT
Last night, I heard a passionate message about standing firm against Islam from an pastor from Uganda. He had been raised as a Muslim and converted to Christanity twenty years ago. He was nearly killed in his home a few months ago byMuslims in his hometown. He spoke of the Islamic agenda of world domination and said that the Islamic strategy is bold intimidation in the face of opposition to this goal. Bold to the point of killing and dying to contribute to the advancement of the goal of dominating the world.
The pastor posited that the Islamic agenda can only be advanced and accomplished when the church remains quiet… and when the church compromises on its’ belief, the battle has already been lost. The pastor insisted his listeners return home and stand boldly against Islam as the spirit of the antichrist.
I went to bed thinking about this message, particularly a question one of the congregation members asked: “I live in Brooklyn, NY near a mosque and they’re always outside with their signs. I know I need to pray on this, but how do I stand bold against Islam in Brooklyn?”
The question was asked with much passion. And it disturbed me with an even greater passion. The pastor’s testimony was heartbreaking and provoking, however (compassion aside) I was more stirred by the reaction to his message. When people are riled they do not differentiate between a religion and the people who practice a religion. The Brooklyn man expressed concern for his family’s safety while living in such proximity to a mosque, but I didn’t hear any concern for the Muslim families themselves for living in such proximity to non-Muslims. This is where I think we fracture ourselves in the body of Christ: we begin to look at ourselves and our immediate community (family) as separate from the greater community (city, nation, world) because “they” don’t look like us, think like us, believe like us; therefore, they can’t possibly be created like us.
Of all the cities in America, I would least expect New York to be antagonistic towards any particular group of people. Unfortunately, the City is showing itself to be a great antagonistic intimidator of the Muslim community both politically and socially.
I don’t like pulling all my cards, but they do work well for illustrative purposes. As a black Christian woman, I look at persecution anywhere from three historic perspectives: black American struggle towards citizenship and equal rights; the ongoing feminine struggle to own ourselves, our identity and our bodies and to be heard in our communities; and the power and controversy of Jesus Christ as a man, prophet, and the one and only sacrificial Son of God. All hated, persecuted and mistreated minorities historically. Throughout history, each part of me has needed someone to speak up for my benefit. I needed help. I needed validation. What I know from my own personal demographics is that when a population is marginalized, sub-human treatment soon follows. When a population is no longer seen as having equal creation and living status as the person judging them less worthy, then atrocities will soon follow.
My dear friend, do not follow what is bad; follow what is good. The one who does good belongs to God. But the one who does evil has never known God. ~ 3John 11, NCV
I received a case from the homeless clinic I volunteer for. During the first few hours of getting to know the young woman I was assigned to help, she asked me something along the line of, “Can you see God in me?”
“Yes,” I replied immediately.
“How can you be so certain,” she asked with a curious smile.
“I look for God in everyone.”
“Yes. If didn’t see God in you, I wouldn’t be here with you. There have only been a few times I have been unable to see any good in anyone – I steer clear of those people.”
“Because if I can’t see God in them, they have nothing for me and I have nothing they will receive. God takes care of me and He has brought me a long way. I know He will not allow anyone to enter my life who will damage the work He has done in me. Knowing that, I go where He sends me and help those He sends to me.”
“Yes, like you.”
Examples of the spirit of the antichrist
In its most basic form, the antichrist is a spirit of selfishness. This spirit works to keep those in its grip blind, ignorant and to themselves. Asleep. Unaware. Disinterested in the plight of their neighbor. The antichrist is not a religion as much as it’s a way of life… or rather, a way towards death.
Jesus Christ’s spirit is one of giving. Christ’s Holy Spirit is selfless, helpful and a comfort to the believer. The Holy Spirit is life.
The antichrist divides and separates.
Christ built a community – a body of believers sent to share his message of love and life with the world.
The antichrist spreads fear and hate.
Christ is love.
The antichrist is an antagonistic hoarder – it wants everything for itself.
Christ is generous – laying down His life for His friends. Giving life to those who invite Him into their hearts. However, Christ can only dwell in a heart that is not inhabited by His enemy, the spirit of the antichrist.
Don’t be fooled by the “threat” of Islam, the threat of “them”, the threat of “others”, or the threat of anyone who isn’t us. The antichrist isn’t hiding in religion or the unknown as much as he’s hiding in us – the body of Christ. What are you giving of yourself? What are you keeping to yourself? Have you surrendered yourself completely to God? Or have you held back and allowed the enemy of God squatting rights in your heart and mind?
I truly and deeply believe that I don’t need to know about any “threat” in the world as much as I need to know that I have the Holy Spirit of God housed within me. The same is true for you! With this power, this light and glory we can face the enemy of Christ with a gentleness, a patience, and a strength that infiltrates, weakens, and crumbles the hold of the antichrist on the people within our life-circles – family friends, neighbors, community members, co-workers, etc.
Christ stands in the gap between Believers and God as an intercessor – a bridge to bring us back into the presence of our Creator. Christ is our example of how we can stand in the gap between non-believers and God so that through the foundation Christ has already laid, we have a way to bring those who love the darkness into the life-saving and grace-giving light of God’s Kingdom.
The antichrist widens the gap and attempts to throw all of mankind, his enemies, into its abyss. With as much effort as you resist the enemy for the sake of your soul, also help your neighbor resist in the saving of their soul.
May God richly bless you in your walk and make you a greater blessing to others around you. Peace be unto you.
My dear children, these are the last days. You have heard that the enemy of Christ is coming, and now many enemies of Christ are already here. This is how we know that these are the last days. These enemies of Christ were in our fellowship, but they left us. They never really belonged to us; if they had been a part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, and this shows that none of them really belonged to us.
You have the gift that the Holy One gave you, so you all know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth but because you do know the truth. And you know that no lie comes from the truth.
Who is the liar? It is the person who does not accept Jesus as the Christ. This is the enemy of Christ: the person who does not accept the Father and his Son. Whoever does not accept the Son does not have the Father. But whoever confesses the Son has the Father, too.
Be sure you continue to follow the teaching you heard from the beginning. If you continue to follow what you heard from the beginning, you will stay in the Son and in the Father. And this is what the Son promised to us—life forever.
I am writing this letter about those people who are trying to lead you the wrong way. Christ gave you a special gift that is still in you, so you do not need any other teacher. His gift teaches you about everything, and it is true, not false. So continue to live in Christ, as his gift taught you.
Yes, my dear children, live in him so that when Christ comes back, we can be without fear and not be ashamed in his presence. Since you know that Christ is righteous, you know that all who do right are God’s children. ~ 1 John 2:18-29, NCV
As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.” ~ Luke 17:11-19
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Ten lepers cried out to Jesus from a distance. Jesus simply looked at them and spoke a statement – from that same distance. He didn’t offer any promises or elaborate speeches. He just told them where to go and what to do. In the PROCESS of them following Jesus’s instruction, the ten lepers were cleansed of their disease.
That’s power! Pure power in the Word!
As he continued to walk in Jesus’s instruction, one of the lepers noticed he was clean of his disease and rushed back to Jesus and thanked Him for what He had done. He praised God for his healing.
Jesus can’t be shocked by human nature, but He points out that He cleaned ten lepers and only one (a foreigner, at that) returned to thank Him and give glory to God. He continues and says because of that man’s expression of faith, he is now healed.
What I hear in what is not said is the other nine were not permanently healed. They were indeed cleansed in the process, but without faith they did not stay that way.
Now apply this story to any situation in your life. How have you believed God for a manifestation and when you received it, you considered it your due? Perhaps you didn’t offer God thanksgiving. Or perhaps you attributed your gratitude to outside sources that seemed to come through for you.
Keep thinking of that situation. Now consider how you regressed. Regression happened didn’t it? Perhaps you got the house you prayed for, but then you weren’t able to afford the payments. Perhaps you got the job you prayed for, but then you didn’t have time for your spouse and children. God will always support and increase what He provides when we give Him His due – praise and thanksgiving.
In all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). The most important element of life is to understand we were created to praise God (Isaiah 43:21).
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. For he has gathered the exiles from many lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.
He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. ~ Psalm 107:1-9
Years ago I took a road trip with a friend. Up to that point we would have said that we knew each other very well. We had planned to drive across the southwest on a tour that was to last a week or so. We were sick of each other inside of 24 hours. Within 3 days we were seeking separation – she went her way, I went mine, we met up for a major celebration then went home.
She was a different person on the road – out of her comfort zone, coming against road blocks and unexpected detours. As well as I thought I knew her, I really didn’t know her at all. And vice versa. There’s a softness about me that people comment on all the time. A sweetness. An easy-going spirit. It usually leads people to think they can take advantage of me, manipulate me, control me. You know, generally be the wolf to my Little Red Riding Hood and try to devour me. They soon find, after some expended energy and headaches, that sweet softness surrounds an iron core. I’m not easily shaken. Nor am I easily led astray. I’m focused. I’m committed and I’m loyal. Above all that I’m an honest, faithful person of integrity. Dealing with me any other way reflects poorly upon you.
That road trip was a life lesson. I immediately decided that should I ever get to the point of marriage my groom-to-be and I would take a pre-wedding road trip. The purpose: to see how different he would be towards me when life just came at him. No time for rehearsals, no hiding, no do-overs. Just committing to a course and doing what you know. Being true to yourself and acting on faith. How and where would his faith lead him? And how eagerly and willingly would I follow?
Some time ago, my pastor said during a teaching on marriage, “Marriage isn’t about the person, it’s about the commitment.” Periodically, I meditate on that. I didn’t get it at first. Why wouldn’t it be about the person you marry? Why would the commitment be more important? Well, the commitment is key. When two people are committed to a course of action, nothing can really stop them. And if God is there between them, they’re guaranteed success.
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” ~ Matthew 18:19-20
I went whitewater rafting for the first time a few weeks ago. We were in the water for about four hours, and traveled 12 miles down river. They did a brief orientation. We had to pick our raft team, appoint someone captain, put someone in charge of our two buckets, and generally be ready to work together. I went with someone I’ve had limited social interaction with and we met up with two couples there that weren’t part of a group. The six of us became a team. We discussed our history with the activity (two of us had never rafted, the others ranged from limited to experienced.), we discussed our objectives – stay in raft and enjoy ourselves. From the first stroke we operated in unison.
Within ten minutes we watched a raft go in circles for quite a while. They were literally rowing in a circle in one spot on the water. The only way to do that is when the left is rowing in the opposite direction from the right. After the second or third circle you would’ve thought they would’ve stopped to discuss strategy or something.
On another raft, a guy jumped or fell into the water. His friends rowed on and made him chase the raft for while.
On yet another raft I heard a wife snapping hard on her husband (assuming they were married, girlfriends are somewhat milder in their word choice). I don’t remember her words, but she took an exception to him needing more help from her to steer the raft clear of the rocks.
Many, if not all, of the rafts rode up on large rocks at some point. We rode up on several. In orientation, we were told that for every minute we stayed on a rock (stagnant, not moving forward), we would fall ten to fifteen minutes behind the group. We didn’t stay on any rock for a minute. As soon as we crashed onto one, we all went into action. And it wasn’t the experienced rafters directing the “rock dismounts”, it was the other newbie. From a distance we could see other rafts landing on rocks like they were Plymouth, the rafters showed very little interest or enthusiasm in getting off of them. One person worked to get the raft off while the others sat and looked at them.
We saw one raft almost sink after spending five to ten minutes partially on a rock. I just wondered how they managing to nearly destroy a raft. Luckily, the submerged portion of the raft came back above water after some more maneuvering.
All this to say, many people, some of whom apparently knew each other very well didn’t do to well together in this high stress, high energy activity.
Life to me is like those rapids, it comes at you fast, you don’t know what’s ahead, you know you’re going to hit some hard spots but you don’t know how you’re going to get through them until you get to them. You’re afraid of falling or getting in over your head, but when you do exactly that, you realize it’s not too deep to stand, you’re more resilient than you thought and helping hands are all around you. You have your quiet sun-dappled spots of peace and tranquility and your roaring, fast-paced movement when you can only react from knowledge and instinct. You come as an individual and you join up with others to maximize your experience and your enjoyment. That’s life – you never know what you’re going to get until you open yourself to receive. Sometimes that means letting go of what you already know. .. What you’re used to… Stepping out of your comfort zone.
In 2005, on September 2nd to be exact, I arrived in New York City. I had a little less than one months’ worth of rent in my bank account after I paid my move-in fees. I had been unemployed for about a year prior to the move, had no savings, no job lined up and no family or friends to fall back on.
Why New York? Because I had always wanted to live here. But I kept putting it off. Milwaukee was safe. It was comfortable. It was what I knew. But I was miserable there. Any opportunity to leave was eagerly accepted. In 1997 I left for Phoenix. It didn’t work out; I went back to Milwaukee. In 1999 I studied in Paris for a semester. Had to go back to Milwaukee afterwards. In 2000 I worked on the road for year. Job ended, went back to Milwaukee. In 2001 I moved to Los Angeles with a friend. Couldn’t find lucrative work on a deadline, bussed back to Milwaukee. Milwaukee became the place I couldn’t escape no matter what.
One day in June 2005 the bulb went off: I was willing try everything else, but kept passing up trying what I really wanted. I had dreamed of New York City most of my life, yet I kept allowing myself to get waylaid and distracted. I allowed fear to control me – the fear of not being able to get back to Milwaukee if needed; the fear of not being able to afford life elsewhere; the fear of failing yet again. That one June day, I realized I wasn’t happy where I was because I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I asked myself: Where do I want to be more than anything? New York City was the hands-down-no-contest answer. I resolved in that moment that that’s where I was going to move as soon as I could scrape together the funds to go. No other criteria was needed because perfect situations had never come my way.
Within a month I was visiting a college friend in Manhattan to scout out opportunities and possibilities. I interviewed for a couple of jobs and found an apartment in the Bronx. The landlord held that apartment for me for over a month. He and his wife committed to working with me through my transition. (And they did.) With that assurance I went back to Milwaukee and announced my imminent move, I held a yard sale and a massive give-away. I was committing to my course and the best way for me to show commitment for my move to New York City was by eliminating a need to return to Milwaukee (other than to visit).
The first six months in New York City was one of the hardest periods in my life to date. It was such a dark period of self-doubt and doubting God. I was questioning that voice inside me that insisted I take such a leap of faith. I castigated myself for my foolishness and shortsightedness. I was wondering how God was going to show Himself and provide for me. I had gotten to such a low by late February 2006 that while sitting in Central Park one day I started observing the homeless people to see how they were coping with the cold. How many layers of clothing, what types of blankets? How big were their bags and carts? And I started mentally cataloging my belongings and deciding what I would take to the streets with me. People laugh when I talk about this, but that was my thought process. I actually laughed at myself when the one thing I decided would have to come with me was my blue velvet comforter with scrolled lavender cutouts. I thought I would for sure get into a couple of fights trying to keep that on the street! Anyway, even at that low point, I wasn’t thinking of giving up. I was thinking of a way to cope with impending homelessness – how would I wash and clean myself to go on interviews, how would I avoid freezing to death…. I truly believed that what was meant for my next stage in life was in New York City. And I was willing to go through whatever I had to go through in order to get the prize – whatever that turned out to be.
I went back to my apartment that evening (after sitting in the park) despondent because I didn’t have any money towards my March rent and no way of getting it. The next day I got a call for a job interview – long-term temp position at one of the top three banks in the country. Within two days I was being finger-printed and drug-tested. The next week I started work – it’s been an upward climb ever since. I profusely apologized to God for questioning His interest in and ability to provide for me!
There is no math that can work out how I survived the first six months in New York City. But I actively did what I knew to do – odds and ends around the city to get to the next day, the next point, the next level.
Living life fully requires a sense of adventure, not the reckless-dare-devil-machismo foolishness, but fearless, exploratory eagerness to experience whatever comes your way.
If you’re unhappy with your life, ask yourself: What would make me happy? Rather it’s a job change, a cross-country move, or something much simpler, work to make it happen. There’s no promise that everything will go smoothly but at least you’re working towards something you’re passionate about. That passion fuels your commitment. The commitment reinforces your energy to continue in your purpose. Living in your purpose has a ripple effect on more people than you can imagine. You become an authentic conduit of light that beckons people to you and accentuates the best of our humanity.
If you can’t get to what makes you happy with the direct questions, go around the bush and ask yourself: What am I afraid of? What is so scary about the course of action I would prefer to take that has me running, hiding and building forts for protection?
How comfortable is life when you’re consistently weighed down with protective gear? Helmet, blinders, heart-guard, elbow pads, knee pads, you name it! You can let all that go and simply trust in God. Trust that He will not lead you astray. Trust that nothing will harm you as long as He’s holding you. That’s what I did. I can’t describe the peace of mind that I have now. The level of satisfaction I have with my life. No matter who or what crosses my path on any given day, I’m at ease. Life is good, God is great!
But I had to go through my tests (read: deep valleys) to get to this point. My prize – a peaceful existence. No part of me is warring with another part. I was completely stripped. Wrote a book about it, then got flayed for the effort. Since then, I’ve been healed. And now I’m being covered in raiment more dazzling than anything I ever imagined. And life is only getting better the more aware I become and the more I grow. I don’t have words to explain how my life has prospered in ways I couldn’t even envision five years ago – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. All over. Nothing I’m doing now was part of the life plan then.
A couple of weeks ago a life coach pitched her business to me – quite honestly, I have the universes’ best coach already, as do you! Towards the end of our conversation, after I had expressed no interest in coaching or being coached on life, she asked me if I was happy with my job. I said yes. She sounded surprised by my response. Then she asked me where I saw myself in five years. I told her, “I have stopped trying to limit God. I will be wherever He wants me to be.”