One Year Anniversary

So much can change in a year. I started this blog 365 days ago. Earlier last year, I’d had a conversation with my dad about my life and where I was headed. At the time, I felt my life was in shambles. I’d newly graduated from Spelman College and gotten into the Holy Grail of post-grad opportunities, Teach for America, only to leave the program and end up back home in my small home town working two part-time jobs. To say the very least, I was discontent and unhappy. My father advised me to go and genuinely pray and ask God what my purpose was. So that night I chopped it up with the Heavenly Father and went to sleep. Lo and behold, I had a dream and the dream was about me having a blog. When I woke up in the morning, I felt certain that God had spoken to me and that He wanted me to write, but I had no clue what He wanted me to write about. What would I write about? What should my blog focus on? How in the world would I be able to keep up a blog consistently? Was I even creative enough to come up with something interesting and inspiring for anybody to read?

I had so many questions and at the time I didn’t have that many answers, but I knew that I had to start doing what God showed me in that dream. As I was brainstorming and in the beginning of creating my blog, I reached out to a “friend” for encouragement. I shared that I was feeling led to start a blog. No sooner than I told her, she laughed and said, “Girl, you know good and well ain’t nobody gonna read your blog.”

I was hurt. I felt discouraged, but I remembered the dream God gave me and kept writing and preparing. I also talked to a woman who didn’t even know me and when I told her about being led to start a blog, she told me matter-of –factly, “I don’t know what you’re waiting for. If God told you to do it, do it. When you write, don’t you realize people all over the world will be able to see what you wrote.” I felt confirmation. I felt encouraged, and I remembered the dream God gave me.

On March 30, 2014, I posted my first post. I was scared and uncertain. Would anybody read what I wrote? If they read it would they like it? Would they judge me? How will I keep posting blogs each week? The journey that I started on seemed so big and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to handle it, but I remembered the dream and week after week after week, I keep writing and kept posting. I didn’t share my blog for the first nine months, so people randomly found my blog through WordPress or Google searches. I didn’t have that many people reading my blog. Some days, nobody read it, but I remembered my dream and kept going. I started grad school in the fall and had to juggle school work, a part-time job and an internship. I questioned if I would be able to keep up with my writing like I had been before but I remembered the dream He gave me and kept on writing. Week after week after week. It’s been 52 weeks since I started and I have over 52 blog posts to date. The dream that God gave me a year is literally just beginning to manifest and it’s far from over.

I say all that, not to brag but to say who God is. The title of my blog was intentional. My Stories for His Glory. It was more than a catchy phase, it was about me giving the dream He gave me back to Him. It was about telling God that I didn’t just want to pursue my dream for my own sake. I didn’t want to write to become famous or popular. I desired to pursue my dream in an act of serving Him. I prayed to God that every single thing I would post would point people back to Him. That He would take each of my stories, mistakes and triumphs I shared on this blog and mold them into to something to would give Him the glory. I wanted it to be crystal clear that this blog and my life were not about me, but about Him. This blog was me stepping out of the boat and walking towards Him in blind faith. I didn’t know all the details at the time. I didn’t know how things would work out or if it was going to work out. All I knew is that God called me to do it, so I answered with my actions. Despite my fears and doubts, I answered Him. Despite hearing the discouraging words of others and my own inner critic, I refused to give up on the dream that God gave me.

So, maybe the dream God gives you isn’t to write a blog. Maybe it’s to start a business, go back to school, travel the world, or be a better parent. Maybe God doesn’t speak to you in a literal dream. Maybe He reveals His dream for your life through a kind and encouraging word from someone else. Or He whispers His dream to your daily through your God-given passions. (You know the things you’d do even if you weren’t getting paid for it.) Maybe you’re not even sure what your dream is or if you even have a dream. But you do. If you’ve never heard it before, you were placed on this earth for a special and specific purpose. You were created to accomplish things for God’s kingdom that only you are equipped to do. If you aren’t sure about what that dream is, like I was a year ago, go to the Father and sincerely ask Him. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the two of you last talked or if you feel you aren’t good enough to start going after that dream, do it anyway. Just like He answered my prayer, He’ll answer yours, too. Despite the fear, despite the other pressing issues in your life, despite the time that you think you don’t have, despite the negative things people may say, go forward and go after what God has purposed you to do.

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Just Saying: Grace Over Hustle

Sometimes we’re so in love with our hustle that we forget to fall in love with our purpose and the grace that our purpose allows us to have. There’s nothing wrong with grinding and hustling because without hard work success is hard to come by. But hustling is NEVER a substitute for the grace God gives you when you fall in line with the divine purpose He has for your life. No matter how hard you hustle, no matter how much how much you’re married to the money, no matter how many times you’re on #teamnosleep, if you aren’t grinding for your God-given purpose it’s all in vain. When you align your hustle with your purpose you will be unstoppable. So if you’ve been grinding but seem to be getting nowhere despite how hard you’ve been trying, take some time and seek His face. Your hustle alone may yield results but they will never overflow until you follow His will.

For the Twenty-Somethings

For the Twenty-Somethings

I have to constantly remind myself of this all the time. Your 20s are your time for trial and error. Go for your dream job even if you realize it’s not really what you’re passionate about. Start a business even if you think it might fail. Travel the world even if you’re tight on money. Take that chance on love even if it doesn’t last forever. Make mistakes. Fall and get back up. Learn the rhythm of your heart. Figure out what makes you tick. Go wherever you feel God leads you. Don’t listen to the people that will try to tell you to settle for the safe choices. You have the rest of your life to have it together. Let your 20s be the years that you fumble, fall and figure out what your purpose is.

Protect Your Dreams

I remember when I told someone, who I considered to be a very close friend of mine, that I was thinking about starting a blog. I wasn’t sure what my blog would be about, when I would start writing it, or if I had the dedication to maintain it over time. I told her about my idea because it had been on my mind some time before I mentioned it to her. I told her about my dream because, in all honesty, I was uncertain about if I had what it took to make that dream come to fruition and I wanted reassurance. I wanted to hear someone tell me to get over my fears and go for something I was passionate about. I mean, because after all, isn’t that what best friends are for? But do you know what the first words out of her mouth were when I told her? “Girl, you know ain’t nobody gonna read your blog!”

I laughed it off but inside I was hurt. It wasn’t that crushing hurt that’s enough to make you lock yourself up in your room, crying while listening to old Mary J. Blige songs and eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I felt the hurt that you feel when someone says something that’s just enough to chip away at your self-esteem. The hurt that you might not notice or will disregard if you’re not really paying attention. The hurt that will slowly kill your dreams, choke out your confidence and stifle your purpose if you don’t stop it. Have you ever been hurt like that before? Maybe it’s your boyfriend who constantly compares your body to other women or constantly criticizes the things you do. Maybe it’s that parent or sibling who’s never satisfied with any of the choices you make in life. Maybe it’s the frienemy you have who smiles in your face but constantly talks behind your back. They don’t ever hurt you enough to make you leave them, or if they do, they’re back in the picture before you know it, but that’s exactly what makes them so dangerous to your dreams.

God created us to have a need to feel acceptance and validation from sources outside of ourselves. God knows that we have an innate desire to be encouraged, uplifted and loved by others. However, the enemy knows that too. The enemy knows that if he can surround us with people who only partially accept and validate us, while they constantly chip away at our self-esteem over time, then he has us right where he wants us. He knows that if he can surround us with those who provide us with a false sense of security and acceptance but really doubt us and our potential, then after a while we will begin doubting ourselves, too. And once we start doubting who God created us to be, that leaves the door wide open for fear, shame, depression and other issues that prevent us from seeing our true worth and value. And when we don’t see ourselves as the “fearfully and wonderfully made” creations that we are, then that will keep us from doing what we are truly called to do.

That’s why we have to be careful with who we allow in our circle and who we share our dreams with. We have to be careful who we turn to for unconditional love and acceptance. Looking back, I realize that the “friend” who told me nobody would ever read a blog I started, was never really a friend to begin with. That wasn’t the first time she’d made negative remarks about me or the things I was passionate about pursuing. Since the beginning of our friendship she’d made countless comments that took shots at my self-esteem and chipped away at my confidence, but they were so subtle that I rarely noticed it. On the rare occasions that I did notice it, I brushed it off, or even worse, actually thought that what she was saying held truth. Thankfully, God brought me to a place where I could truly see the how detrimental her presence in my life was. Needless to say, we’re not really friends anymore. It’s not that I hate her or anything, but that day I realized that I loved and valued the dreams that God gave me more than I valued being accepted and validated by her, or anyone for that matter. It definitely hurt to let go of someone I considered to be a close friend, but I know that it would have hurt me far more, in the long run, to hold on to a friendship with someone that makes me doubt my own purpose.

I can’t lie. I still want to hear encouraging words from friends when I’m feeling shaky about stepping out on faith and pursuing one of my dreams. I still long for acceptance and validation from others, but I’m learning to seek God before I seek anyone else. I’m finding out more and more that He is the true source of the unconditional love and acceptance that I crave. He’s the only one who can give me the reassurance I need when I’m filled with doubt and uncertainty about my dreams and my purpose. And who is better to consult about my purpose and potential anyway? He is the One that gave me my purpose in the first place and who knows all about the potential I hold far better than anyone else.

So I said all of that to say this, take some time to evaluate the people that you’ve been sharing your hopes, dreams and goals with. How do they typically react when you share the things that you are passionate about with them? Do they uplift and encourage you to go after you dreams? Do they pray for you and with you as you step out on faith to pursue you passion? Or do they belittle and criticize your dream? Do they discourage you or create doubt about whether or not you can be everything God has purposed you to be? If you have people in your life who seem to be tearing down your dreams more than seem to be building them up, it may be time to remove them from your life. Also, take some time to evaluate yourself. Do you depend on people whenever you need reassurance or do you depend on God? When you feel uncertain about pursuing a endeavor, do you get down on your knees and seek counsel from the Father, or do you pick up the phone to hear the opinions of people? If you find that you rely on others more than you rely on God, it may be time to seek Him, repent for putting people in the place where only He belongs, and ask Him to build your dependence on Him. You may have to make some adjustments to yourself, your circle, and your relationship with God, but it will all be worth it in the long run. Your dreams and the purpose God has given you are far too valuable and precious to be chipped away at and discouraged by anyone. You owe it to yourself, and most importantly to God, to surround yourself with those who will help you build up your dreams, instead of constantly tearing them down.