Having made the decision to remove a particular person from my life all together hasn’t been easy especially when that person wants to continue to make my life miserable. In all honestly, I gave more of myself than I had to. The last year has been more of the same and even though I kept my distance, I tried to stay on good terms with this person. I have found that I am adequate without this person in my life.
The reason I use the word “adequate” is because I have spent so many years feeling inadequate because this person made me feel as such. I can look at myself in the mirror and despite my health challenges; I am quite successful in my career and in my life. I have done so much and accomplished so much while working fulltime and being a mother to my children. I don’t have any regrets. I am raising two amazing boys to be gentlemen who will never treat women as inadequate. My older son is 12 and I remind him daily how important it is to treat women with respect. I remind the value of women as mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, wives, etc. and the peace I get is that he turns out to a good man.
No one should have to be made to feel inadequate. After my brother died, I allowed myself to find out how adequate I was. I did some soul searching and I learned how important it was to love myself first and foremost. I still have moments where I still feel inadequate but for the most part, I am confident in my abilities. My health definitely poses a challenge especially with the weight gain but now that I have removed stressors from my life, it can be easier to focus on getting better.
As 2011 came to end, I promised myself I would focus on my relationship with the Almighty. As planned, I have worked to better my relationship with God. The more I worked towards that goal, the clearer I was able to see. If you have ever heard someone say that prayer makes things clearer, they are absolutely right. Not only does prayer makes things clearer, it allows a feeling of peace. All those questions I had and that I continually pondered about God and faith, I know now that those answers aren’t necessarily specific. If anything, they mean allowing God to take the wheel and have faith in that he knows what is best for me. It has taken a long time to fully grasp and understand that.
A few weeks ago, I had this dream that I was walking around dismayed and asking people questions about God and faith. In the dream, I wanted to understand how to strengthen my belief in the Almighty and how to feel closer to God. I remember saying, “I believe, now what?” It was when I took a moment to think about my dream the following day that the answer came. As I pondered the meaning of that dream, I felt cold and I started to shiver. I had the overwhelming desire to cry, not because I was sad, but because I was happy. I felt God’s presence in a way that I had never felt before.
I remember listening to the former actor turned preacher, Kirk Cameron’s story about his journey to finding faith and God. At age 17, he followed a girl into a church, not because he wanted to be close to God but because he wanted to impress the girl. He heard the gospel for the first time. Sometime later, he was sitting his car thinking about the fact that he could die at any moment. He told himself that if there was a God and a heaven, he would not be going there. It was at that moment that he felt like he needed to be saved. In order to do that he needed God to reveal himself and he asked this of God. There wasn’t a specific sign but he felt God’s presence and it changed him. His heart became softened because it had been opened to the reality that God existed. So, he began to learn all he could at God and as he did this, he saw his need for forgiveness, a willingness to obey God and to live his live in the way that pleased God.
My sister once told me that God doesn’t seek us. We have to be willing to seek him. I didn’t realize how true that was until I saw that first hand. Once we seek God, he opens up his arms to us to show us love and forgiveness. I am the first to admit that I have made mistakes but the more I leaned towards God, the more I learned the value of making good honest choices. I even warn my children against little white lies and I practice what I preach. I have always been a horrible at lying but have a stronger faith in God has made me understand the value of honesty especially to one’s self.
In 2011, I learned so much about the person I am today. Having a stronger faith in God is just another part of a bigger puzzle. I had shed many tears last year that I actually thought I would run out of tears. It was those tears that pushed me towards a strengthened faith and while I wish I could change the circumstances for them, I am better for them. Without those tears, I wouldn’t have learned how unique I am. I wouldn’t have learned that the only person I need to be adequate for is me. So, I am adequate even on my worst day. I am proud of who I have I have become and if not for all the lessons I have learned in the past four years, I would not be who I am today.
This weekend went by pretty quickly. It was fairly good one and I spent most of Sunday in the comfort of my own home. On Saturday, however, I had a blast from the past and a rather pleasant one.
I visited my hometown with my mom and my older sister and our kids. We visited Mom’s old friend and spent some time with childhood friends. Being the deep thinker I am, I started to wonder what it would have been like if we never moved away. Things would definitely have been different considering the influences we had around us. That also applies to my parents. I am fairly certain that I wouldn’t have gotten married so young if my parents had kept the same friends.
As I pondered, I laughed because I knew God would be laughing at my pondering. There are no what-ifs, our destinies are planned for us by God from the moment we are born. God has plans for us that no one can predict. I have learned not to question the way God works and how mysterious his ways are.
The saying that God works in mysterious ways doesn’t come from a religious text. In fact, it goes back to a poem written by William Cowper in the 18th century based on experience of his. Cowper was depressed and wanted to commit suicide as a result of depression. He flagged down a cab (I assume a horse, driver, and carriage) and told the driver to take him to the Thames River so that he could drown himself. However, a thick fog came and prevented them from finding the river. After driving around and lost, the cabby finally dropped Cowper off. To Cowper’s surprise, he was at his own doorstep. Whether it was God intervening or the cab driver’s purposeful action, Cowper strongly believed that God sent him the fog to prevent him from killing himself. Because even in our darkest moments, God is watching over us.
God moves in a mysterious way by William Cowper
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
I remember questioning God after my brother died through my grief. I remember trying to understand why we were given such an incredible, and perhaps hopeless, battle to fight. It was many months later that I realized that what God gave to us was a gift. Yes, my brother had cancer and the odds were against him, but God allowed us the opportunity to set differences aside, show our love to him, to work as a family, and to say goodbye. We didn’t lose my brother without warning. In fact, we were given a warning that allowed us to make the best of a really bad situation. And my brother was given an amazing gift because he didn’t die alone.
I have learned through so much trial that I sometimes need to let God take control of the wheel. I can always trust God to clear the way for me. I also know how important patience is because God’s timing and will is perfect and not always on my schedule. Sometimes, I find myself being impatient so I imagine myself in my car. I am driving and God is in the passenger seat. Everything is going as I planned and I feel safe with him by my side. As visualize this, I feel God’s presence and I know he is with me along for the long haul. God is there so long as I allow him to be a part of my life. I have to keep him in the passenger seat because God will know precisely the right moment when it is time to take the wheel. Allowing him to take the wheel when I can no longer drive means that I trust him as to guide me towards my destiny even though I don’t know what it holds.
Gods knows me and knows what I need. That is why I don’t focus on what-ifs anymore. I understand that God sometimes takes the long way in order for me to figure out what the point of the journey is. God allow wants me to hand over the keys to him when I cannot no longer take the journey alone. It also means that once I hand him the keys, I need to allow him to determine my destination. It has taken me quite some time to come to this conclusion but I know now that I can trust God to direct me to where I need to be, and not necessarily where I want to be.
Yes, I can look at the past and wonder all the what-ifs I want or I can allow God to take me to the places I need to be. Every time, I stop to ponder about what-if, I look at my sons and I am glad that my journey led me to them – that God took the wheel and drove me to the place that I was most needed and the place I needed to be.
Last year at this time, there was a lot I was dealing with. I was still coming to terms with losing my brother, with the affect that cancer had on our lives, struggling with financial and marriage issues, questioning my faith in God, starting a new job, and moving on in several aspects of my life. I felt like I was in the aftermath of a weather or war tragedy. Here I am a year later, standing as strong as ever and getting ready to put the past year behind me. All of the issues I struggled with last year have either come to conclusion or are about to conclude. There is something coming up in the next week that I have to attend to and I am pretty worried about. It is causing me anxiety and nightmares. It seems like I am having a nightmare every night as a result of the stress associated with it. It is one of the issues that is about to come to a conclusion. While the likely scenario is that it will come to a conclusion, there is a small chance that it may not.
I am just trying to breathe easily but it is pretty hard when you are about to attend to an event that is somewhat scary. Despite feeling like my life has finally come full circle, I do find myself sometimes sad. Some of that is because I am still mourning my brother, some because of the current situation, and some because of RA and Fibromyalgia in my life. Sunday, I was driving through a small town similar to the one I lived in years ago, and I felt something I had not felt in a long time. I felt like I needed to get away from the whole world. I felt like I needed peace and quiet but regardless of where I am, I know that life will follow me so will bills and responsibilities. But seriously, if you have a job in a small town you would like to offer me in the legal field, I am game.
Anyway, I am still trying to taking stock of where I am at. I am still struggling to understand my relationship with God. I want a better relationship with God but sometimes, it feels like I am going through the motions. I know that this latest obstacle is God’s way of saying, “I am here. Reach for me,” but I am just too emotionally tried to reach out right now. I always hear people say that there is no excuse for not reaching out to God. In fact, feeling like this is the reason I should be reaching out. I have spent the last year reaching for God but I have not reached that point where God is a central factor in my life. I want to reach further but I feel like I need to slow down. However, my excuses remind me of a bumper sticker that I once read. “Those who plan to find God in the 11th hour die at 10:30.” I don’t want to die at 10:30 knowing that I should have reached out to God sooner or with better resolve.
My parents raised me to believe that God’s mercy is always available to us but we have to be willing to seek it. As I struggle to prepare for upcoming events, I know it is time to seek God’s guidance and mercy. Is it ridiculous or wrong to say I am feeling emotionally tired? The last year has been hard and I know I have had victories and I wouldn’t have had those without God by my side. So, is it wrong for me to say that while I need God’s guidance, I am too tired to reach for it? I know that I want to reach for it and I most likely will. Maybe it will be tomorrow or in a few days or a week from now. However, I feel restless right now. Getting closer to God was my most important goal for 2012 and so far, I am failing miserably at it. I am sad that I am struggling with this. And maybe it is not my faith that I am struggling with, maybe it is other factors that are making my faith weak.
I don’t have guilt if anyone is wondering that. In fact, I am fairly certain that my slate is clean. A while back, I realized that I would make good choices and that I would be a better person. I have done that and maybe this is my crossroads. This is me wondering what is next. I know without a doubt I am a good person. These days, I wonder how I can be better. I know that I need to start focusing on instilling strong faith in my children and I have been working towards that goal. I know that I need to be more charitable and I plan to work towards this. I know that as people get older they ponder as to how they strengthen their faith. Maybe this is where I am at.
After my brother died, I knew that I had to focus on strengthening my relationships in the way that God expected from me especially those with my mother, my siblings and my children. I have focused on those and that is what I did in 2011 and I continue to do this. I know that family is an essential part of faith and our elders, in particular. I have worked to teach my children the importance of this. I have learned that how important teaching my children to be faithful is. If not for my parents instilling religion in my life, I would have nothing to fall back on. I am very grateful to them for this.
The older I get, I see that faith is a work in progress. When we are younger, we don’t see any room for religion in our lives. Or we somehow just disregard it. We disregard it because we don’t see any reason to rely on it. As we get older and life tests us, it becomes our pedestal of hope and strength. We cannot imagine being able to get through our struggles without it. That teaches us to be better people. Then we get older and we realize that we have to pass some kind of faith to our children. At some point we realize that there has to be more and we wait to see what that is. That is where I am right now. I am working to instill a sense of faith in my children but I also see that there is more that I need to instill in myself. I know that my mom is content with her faith at this point in her life and that is where I strive to be someday.
I have grown up a lot in the past year. My brother’s illness and death forced me to wake up so much older. I now see life as precious and I strongly believe that success isn’t measured by money or titles. I see success measured in the number of lives we touch. I hate that money is what we need for survival. I want to believe that faith is stronger. That is why I think I am struggling. My upcoming event has to do with money and I am trying to believe that my faith is stronger than anything that life throws my way. See, the scariest part of finding yourself at the end of your rope is hearing God say to you, “Let go. I will catch you.” This is when you have to decide whether your faith is strong enough to trust that God will catch you. I want God to catch me and I am struggling with the part where I put my trust in him and let him do just that.