A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a while back that life is not easy, although social media makes it look as if it is. She then went into a detailed account of how some of her days look "behind the veil." As I read her post, I immediately was reminded of something an inner circle chica had told me once. She said, "Liz, you make it look easy. People think you are able to do all you have done because you are just smarter or haven't had the trials some of us have had." To which I replied, "that is absolutely not so." She then said, "well how would we know. You don't share your struggles." I never forgot that talk. Since that time, I have been very intentional about sharing defeats as well as wins. With social media nowadays, our failures are usually very much on display for all to see. But today, I thought I'd share again.
I was raised by a single mom who struggled to raise two daughters. The extent to which I still only imagine because she was not one to share her pain or struggles, always opting to show herself strong in an effort to raise strong daughters. My half sister and I are seven years apart. We are similar in that we have both fought for what we now have. None of us was handed anything in life. I don't remember much of my dad. Although I do know he left my mom with nothing when I was two. A "religious" man, a store front church preacher, he was also violent. My mom has a scar on her arm as evidence from his barber toolkit.
Much of my early life is a haze. I guess my brain did its best to protect me from pain. Anyway, being a child of a single parent was not a picnic. Economically, we struggled. In the religious community, one that celebrated two parent homes, we were shall we say "not celebrated." I used to dread both Mother's day and Father's Day as a teen. Why? Because my mom did not come to Jesus until late in life thus she was not in church attendance when I was until much later. So every Mother's Day, when they called the mother's up with their families, I was alone. I would encourage myself by telling myself that "at least I had a mother in my life." On Father's Day, alone again, I felt worse because I could not tell myself "at least I had a Father in my life."
Most of my teachers did the absolute minimal work in class and I never heard an encouraging word. As a matter of fact, I remember in 10th grade at my high school, I would skip school because as a "church girl" I could not wear pants and was not seen as a cool chick. One day the guidance counselor called my mom and told her of my absences and told her to come in. I was called down to her office to find my mother there. I was then part of what seemed to be an hour long lecture on why I would NOT pass my Regent's exam and why I would NOT go to the next grade. Guess what? I not only passed my Regent's with flying colors, I also went to 11th grade. I never liked people telling me what I could or could not do based on THEIR opinion. That always served as fuel for me to exceed expectations.
In my book, Don't Buy The Lie: Eradicating False Belief Systems that Keep You From Your Destiny I share how even in the church some folks thought I would not amount to much because of a silly teenage mistake. Let's just say, I proved them wrong too.
In my work life, I can count the jobs I have loved because many were toxic work places which is why I consulted companies on organizational culture. I was amazed how many leaders are clueless about organizational culture and the toxicity of their work places yet were baffled by turn over. That fact is even for the faith-based places I've worked with.
In my personal life, I can say I have suffered through TWO major life altering situations. The birth of my second son Daniel Jeremiah (DJ) at 26 weeks and the subsequent operations (29 to this day) that he had to endure including almost dying on me on would you believe, Mother's Day of 2007. The other situation, a marriage crisis that almost led to divorce the month before September 11th. A few other events have hurt greatly related to church ministry but I learned to let it roll off my back. For all of these events, I remember who stood by our side and who didn't. Nothing reveals who really is a friend until you have no money, no titles, or no joy (as a by-product of crisis).
My life could read like a telenovela (soap opera) really! Today when I look back, I can laugh at the funny moments sandwiched in between those very sad moments of my life.
All this to say, we all have had hard days and some of us have had hard years! Life is messy. Ministry is messy. People hurt us. We hurt people. Some of you may be having a hard time right now! I pray right now in the mighty name of Jesus and the powerfully comforting presence of the Holy Spirit that you be encouraged right now as you read this. No, life is not easy for any of us. But don't dwell on THAT. Dwell on the fact that:
This is important because there is something that YOU are UNIQUELY gifted for no matter who walked away, who turned out not to be a friend, what you've endured in crisis,etc. You have to believe in the you God created and believe in the gift giver because believing THAT keeps you from giving up on YOU. It keeps you open to new possibilities when old ones die out.
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? You go forward and let the enemy of your soul know that no matter what you face, no matter if you walk alone in life, you WILL proceed forward in legacy building. You WILL contribute love and light to this dark world. You WILL live to make HIS name great!
Sending you only good vibes! xoxo
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.