The End of Me

Six years ago, I was sitting eagerly beside my Dad in a Ford Dealership showroom. “I’m impressed that your credit score is this good at your age,” the car salesman inquired from the opposite side of the round table. Beneath his surprise, respect and confidence lingered in his voice. I was a fervid twenty-two-year-old desperate to kick down the doors of my adolescence and strut into adulthood.

It was my first major solo purchase and as pathetic as it sounds, I needed the validation of a well informed stranger to tell me, yes you’re doing it right. Though it was likely a part of the car salesman’s pitch, he’d made me feel like I was on the right track. My newfound surety soon ushered me into a season of skipping merrily down the road to my downfall.

Fast forward to 2014. I’d gone through three jobs, (one of which I was fired from) and was surviving off of what was left of my two credit cards, the aid of my parents, and meager unemployment funds. I had a car payment, an apartment and no income or savings. Adulthood had really taken me through the wringer. Eventually, my credit cards went into default and I stood idly by as my credit plummeted to a new low.

Here, in 2018, I’m still picking up the pieces from one hellish year. Working to improve my credit this year has been a constant reminder of my shortcomings in 2014. A few months ago, I set a goal to have my own apartment by the top of next year and purchase a home within the next few years. I knew my credit would be a major factor in reaching those goals, so time after time, I made plans to pay off the bills that had gone into collections. Every time I was close to saving the amount I needed, something else came up. It was difficult to save rainy day money, put away for retirement, pay current bills and save extra money for the debts that were ruining my credit.

I felt stuck. What’s worse, the more research I did, the more discouraged I became. From what I read, even if I paid my debt in full, the stains would remain on my credit for the next seven years, so why bother? Still, I was frustrated with the bill collector calls and constantly being reminded of past errors.

Eventually, I saved enough money to pay off my smaller debts. I then decided to take out a loan from my 401k to pay off the rest of my credit card bills that had gone into default. I didn’t expect to see any immediate changes to my credit score, I was just tired of that cloud of debt looming over my life. By this point, I’d reached the end of all of my resources and had done all I could to right my wrongs. I surrendered to patience and accepted the reality that I had to allow time to heal my credit score.

Much to my surprise, over the next couple of months, my credit score rocketed. It had gone from the red zone to the yellow zone, poor to fair. I was shocked, to say the least. To top it off, not only were my debts showing paid in full, they were removed entirely from my report! My past mishaps no longer had a place in my future!

What I find most interesting, is that out of all the worrying, researching, and effort, my breakthrough took place when I became still. It happened when I reached the end of myself. In doing so, I gave God the opportunity to work on my behalf in a way that only he could.

Sometimes, we don’t know when to stop. And by stop, I mean rest. And by rest, I mean turning over our situations to God completely. This is not an invitation to give up, but a call to recognize the power of the God we serve. We wait too long to come to God for the answer. Yes, be active in working toward whatever your goal is, but remember that we should be in tandem with the Lord, not passing off our problems to him like a baton at a relay race.

If we put God at the center of what we are trying to accomplish, we’ll get there a lot easier. I understand that there are times when it is beneficial for us to go through the storm but there are also times when God wants to bless us and we create unnecessary storms by trying to bless ourselves. 

We put too much effort into trying to fix our problems, rather than resting in the panacea that is Christ. God has already given us everything we need to succeed in fulfilling his glory in our lives, it’s simply a matter of activating those resources through him. Stop exhausting and worrying yourself over not having the answers and put that energy into prayer and faith in the one who does.

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Traveling Light

 

In March, I spent two days at Newark Liberty International Airport completing recurrent training: a dreaded but necessary requalification course required annually by all flight attendants. Never a fan of school, I huffed and puffed all the way there on that first day, but by the time class was over I realized how light I felt— literally.

 A normal workday would find me weaving in and out of the ever-crowded Newark airport, my forty pound luggage dragging behind me like a fractious child. But because I wasn’t actually flying anywhere, all I’d brought to training was a backpack to house my wallet, a notebook, some snacks, and a blanket.

Eager to soak up the rest of the day away from work, I galloped down the escalator and hurried to meet my uber driver at arrivals. I shrugged my bookbag off as I slid into the car. Leaning back, I sunk into the worn seat as the driver eased on the gas and the airport faded out of view. Wow, that was seamless.

My temporary dismemberment from my suitcase had given me the freedom to walk and maneuver as I willed without having to factor in their extra weight. On the ride home, I couldn’t help wishing I had access to the science used in the movie, “Honey, I shrunk the Kids.” Of course in my case, the kids would be my annoying luggage. How much easier my life would be if my bags weighed less than a pound and fit in my pocket.

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Putting aside silly notions, I thought of more realistic ways to lighten my load. As I began taking a mental inventory of the items in my suitcase, I found my thoughts drifting off to the less obvious baggage I tote around daily: the unecessary bulk I carry in my spirit.

We spend so much of our lives internalizing weight that was never ours to carry. Our spirits weren’t created to support life’s burdens, yet we bathe ourselves in the worries and trials of this world expecting to be cleansed.

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Hard as it may be to grasp, we don’t possess the antidote to not even a single of life’s troubles. Blinded, we sometimes think we have a responsibility to carry the load on our own, but that couldn’t be farther from what the word of God says.

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Anger, unforgiveness, and abandonment are a few of the more recognizable poisons we hold onto, but it’s the worries we think are natural and harmless that mature into beasts over time. Constantly stressing over money and bills, the future, health, our kids, marriages, and employment— all these normal worries carry heft as well. With time they ossify our spirits and we begin to block the blessings God wants to bestow upon us. Philippians 4:8 instructs us on what our thoughts should be consumed by.

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Giving our lives to God means trusting him entirely. Not only with the big things, but with the minutia of our lives. We cleverly disguise our pain, making sure to evenly distribute it throughout ourselves so that no one will notice the extra weight. We can’t hide from God. He formed and knew each of us before the foundation of the earth. He has purposed each of our lives for his glory. God is not perplexed or intimidated by our pain. However, we must make the choice of whether we want our struggles to be barriers or breakthroughs.

I see so many Flight Attendants hobbling through the airport with their luggage. It’s usually the ones who have been lugging around three and four pieces of baggage for twenty-five years. The weight and strain catches up. The baggage, if we let it, will attach itself to us like barnacles. Thank God though, our pain doesn’t have to be irreparable. We can opt to surrender our excess weight to God and let him deal with it. Trust him to deal with it. Know that He is more than capable of giving us the peace that we need to released our baggage.

 

 

 

 

Untold Stories 

Do I have any Oncers in the house?! 

         

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to introduce you to my favorite show, “Once Upon A Time.”

(All credits to ABC)

Just saying, the first five seasons are on Netflix right now.

Anyway, before I gallop off into some wild and obsessive tangent, let me make clear my point in mentioning the show. 

In its current season,  there’s a story arc that involves a community of people who arrive to the real world after having spent several decades in, “The Land of Untold Stories.” Ahead of impending crises, these people chose to place an infinite pause on their lives by escaping to this land. There, their lives have remained in a redundant loop of stagnance. Now, forced back into the real world, they are once again faced with the problems they thought they’d eluded. 

Do these people sound a little familiar?

                 

That’s because, in a sense, they are us. Too often, we run from our problems instead of facing them. Like the people from, “The land of Untold Stories,” many of our lives play on a revolving track of monotony. We try to escape by running: changing jobs, moving to new neighborhoods, even switching up our hair. But our plights remain,  like a bitter aftertaste refusing to be swallowed. 

There aren’t many (if any) victories that have been won by retreat. Problems don’t disappear just because they go unacknowledged. If anything, we provide them with the perfect environment to grow. Until we confront our problems head on, they will continue to resurface again and again in our lives.  

             

So what if you’re afraid to face your problems: Join the rest of the world. The interruption of any cycle is always met with some apprehension. But, unresolved fear is like an untreated cancer. It will infect every part of our lives until treatment is provided. 

What treatment, you ask? 

Same as always: God. 

    

The realms we’ve created to hide from our problems will be difficult to escape. Blessedly, we don’t have to do it alone. We need only to surrender our troubles to God and He will lead the way to victory. 

The saddest part about fear, is its ability to snuff out beauty. If we allow ourselves to be held captive by fear, we also veil ourselves from the beauty that awaits the conqueror.

And that, indeed, is tragic.

Ready or Not? 

Absolutely not.

My last post was on September 29th of last year. My absence was intentional. My plan was to take a few months hiatus to revamp my blog. I wanted to give it more focus, commit to one post per week, and start other interactive aspects to bond with my followers. But the months have slipped through my fingers like egg yolks in greasy hands.

I fear I’ll never be as ready as I want to be, which is why I must leap now. 

             

Life hardly seems interested in navigating around my plans. Every time I steal a moment to get ahead, it slams itself to the floor in a bratty tantrum, demanding my full attention. I wish I could be like the mothers in the department stores, who remain unmoved by their children’s obnoxious behavior. I totally wish I could ignore life and give sole focus to my ambitions. 

     

But alas, I cannot.   

Still, I want to commit to the blog in a way that I haven’t in the past. I want it to be more dependable. For a person like me, who is self diagnosed ADD, it’s going to take God almighty and some serious strategy. 

I’ve found that writing truly suits my soul. It soothes me in a way nothing else can. But as with any love, there exists an element of fear. It’s like the exhilarating anxiety you get at the top of a roller coaster; it takes flight in your stomach like a caged bird being set free.

I’m done waiting for the perfect moment that is never going to emerge from the shadows. I’m relaunching the blog now! 

A life uninterrupted is one that does not exist. Our paths are never quite clear, our roads never completely paved. We simply acquire our tools along the way.  

        

 

A Revolution of Love

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m crushed over Brangelina’s split. Despite the controversy that surrounded their relationship, I genuinely wanted them to make it. I’m sorry that they didn’t.

In the aftermath of the news, I’m basically losing it. Brad and Angie were my final straw and now that they’re no more, I’m coming clean about my marriage woes.

        

Lately, I’ve been a little apprehensive toward the prospect of marriage. The idea use to excite me, but now it makes me feel just the opposite- scared. If forty to fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce, how can I expect mine (when it happens) to last? I’m not any better than anyone else, so what am I going to do differently than half of the country to ensure a lasting marriage?


I should probably mention that I’m not dating anyone right now, nor have I ever had a boyfriend. But as a single female with hopes of one day getting married, I think my concerns are warranted.


I know that there’s no one answer to why marriages fail and that each case is different, but we have to acknowledge the existence of a common denominator- even if we don’t know what it is.

My views aren’t naive; I’m not waiting to be swept up on a magic carpet and adored endlessly by some debonair prince.

          

I know that marriage is hard work and that it comes with many challenges, but…

Doesn’t everyone know that?

I guess knowledge and experience yield different results…

I used to think I had the answers to a successful marriage. I thought that if a person set standards and married into them, their union would last- simple. But I realize now, that while standards are important, marriage is much more complex than a checklist.

As I sit, pondering the convoluted world of marriage and relationships, one word comes to mind:

Love.

I mean, right? It’s the one word (aside from money) that starts and ends a marriage. It’s about love. At least that’s what we’ve led ourselves to believe- that love conquers all. We see it over and over again, people getting married because they’re in love, getting divorced because they’re not.  Joining a union for love seems right, and for a while, I’m sure it feels right. But the problem with love, is that it has too many definitions and it’s interpretation is dependent on people. 

Human feelings and emotions aren’t stable enough to be the foundation of a marriage. We change our minds without blinking and we believe in the right to act on those changes.

I don’t want to give someone that kind of love, nor do I wish to be loved in that manner.

Love needs a revolution. One that would restore its power to the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice was the ultimate act of love. We all know the story, but perhaps we’ve become numb to it. I implore you, familiarize yourself with Jesus’ existence on this Earth. You’ll find that He is the embodiment of love. In fact, that love cannot exist outside of Him. And in truth, that He is love.

So because Jesus set the standard, I refuse to be loved with anything short of His love. Likewise, I refuse to give anything less than the love He has filled my heart with.

This is not a declaration that marriage won’t come with challenges, it most certainly will. It’ll be frustrating, impossible sometimes, maybe I’ll feel suffocated or want to be free, maybe I’ll change and he won’t, what if I grow and he doesn’t, what about money, and God forbid- what if we fall out of love?

Yet, unconditional love knows no bounds. Jesus has yet to leave my side, despite my disobedience, frustration, the times I’ve blatantly done things to hurt him, ignored him, not trusted Him, given up on Him, kept things from Him, put others before Him, neglected spending time with Him…

The list is infinite, yet He has remained. And as a reflection of His heart, my love will not run out.

So, no, I don’t have all the answers to a successful marriage- I have one.

Love and be loved with the heart of Jesus.