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Archive for the tag “faith”

Job Hunting On a Deadline Is Emotionally Draining

Hey folks.

Not long ago, I found myself trying to coach and encourage my cousin visiting from the south about jumping in, getting a job and grinding like hell to achieve his goals.

I told him to be prepared for obstacles: some of which he had no control, and some of which may have been created by old choices or lack of planning and preparation.

As I enter my last month of employment in a few days, and still have bills to pay, so far, I’ve had one promising interview, and I’ve been putting in several applications all over the place.

I do believe that things are going to work out, and it’s never based on my sense of timing. And God hasn’t let me down before, even if things appeared to be down to the wire.

But my anxiety is ramping up. Especially after doing an electronic application for a job I know I was qualified for, but got a lightning quick rejection. Like immediate. LOL.

Me thinks my salary requirement got me bounced immediately. Which, probably is a good thing. There’s no point in even having a great interview if the salary they are offering is too low.

But see, everything is making me feel edgy and uncertain and in a kind of ho-hum mood.

I’ve been virtually silent at work, really just trying to get through the day and my tasks.

It’s nearly impossible for me to concentrate on the statistics class I’ve been “supposed” to be working so diligently on over the summer so I can return to my grad school program in good standing. Progress is at a standstill on that front. I get lumps in my throat thinking about it. It’s hard to move forward on a self-paced course. How sad is that?

So, per the usual, I’ve been not even looking for the silver lining, I’ve been looking for the golden lesson. The what is this preparing me for? What am I supposed to gain from feeling how I feel, and willing myself to put out just one more application?

Am I applying blindly out of fear? Or wisely out of purpose and true interest in the job?

Fear and uncertainty makes us scramble. It sounds a lot like our current presidential election.

We have a serious problem with discomfort. Fear makes us rationalize behaviors or ideas, that when we are otherwise calm and confident, we’d never consider.

It’s not limited to our votes, it extends to the partners we choose to stick with for fear of being alone, it extends to not expressing how we feel for fear of backlash or being unaccepted, it extends to every type of fear that holds us back.

So now, I have to speak myself out of the fear.

I am dwelling in the unknown. But I have family, I have friends, I have love, I have skills and talents. These are things that I know. I’ve lived in places I never thought I would and I’ve survived.

I had people tell me that I wasn’t good enough and I knew it was a lie, and I survived.

I thought the end of a relationship was the end of me ever being happy again, and six years later, I know it to be a lie.

The old church folks love to say “The Devil is a Lie.” And it’s very tempting to try to correct their grammar, and say isn’t it “The Devil is a liar?”

It’s both. Everything about the devil and all that comes with him is a lie. He works through very real things and very specific details in our lives to thwart us from our divine purpose he uses lies to get in our heads. He uses lies as agents of fear, because fear makes us move, it drives us to action.

I’m not a biblical scholar by any means, but now I get why there are so many scriptures that say things like “Fear not.” Or, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

Other verses mention love casting out fear. I gravitate to the idea of the power of a sound mind the most. The challenge is to maintain a sound mind when our natural impulse would be to fear. Our bodies react to all kinds of situations: we sweat, we want to run and hide, we get weak stomachs, we pass out, we fight.

But how do we calm ourselves in the face of fear? How do we accept what is and what will be?

Having fear is a natural human flaw that attempts to protect us from pain and threats.

However pushing beyond our fears draws us closer to our supernatural, interior selves.

Even self-help folks, and motivational speakers talk over and over again about conquering fear, about drowning out voices of self-doubt.

It’s very easy to be fearful in the world we live in, and some days, staying under the covers is the solution. But there comes a time when we must act. When we must do our part, do our best in the face of fear and trust our Creator will do the rest.

 

 

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Pain and Possibility: Finding Our Way Through Difficult Times

I’ve been really weary with all of the things that have been going on in the world.

The violence and unrest and waking up to the next awful thing unfolding on the news and on social media is wearing me out. I can’t help but to be hurt, I can’t help but to care.

I can’t help but to be angry and helpless all at the same time. I’m mad because as a former journalist, I’m seeing a lot of irresponsible things happening with words, images and sounds.

I’m questioning everything, I’m mad about situations that are well within our control as a society and the things we’ve allowed to be out of control.

There are discussions of accountability and change, and I listened to a very interesting message given passionately by the pastor at church yesterday, how starting change with us as an individual is extremely difficult, so when we expect governments, institutions and entire systems to just do it overnight we’re reaching.

He didn’t say change wouldn’t happen, he just said that it does take time. I took something from that. We curse the pace of change and we get frustrated with those who don’t get it and don’t help us move fast enough, especially if we have the means to.

The second thing that kind of hit me was, usually we don’t have a problem with other people changing something we’ve pointed out is a flaw. And we may even recognize areas where we need to change. We may have a list of things some are easy, but there’s usually ONE thing that’s required of us, that may be a large sacrifice, inconvenience or act of faith and we say “I’ll do anything, but I won’t or can’t do that.”

The pastor continued to say how pain is often involved with change and usually serves as the catalyst for change to happen. The discomfort of our pain drives us to do what it takes to seek relief.

I’m awful at swallowing large pills. But it seems the times that I’ve been very sick, or in a lot of pain, I’ve managed to get them down if they were directly involved with even the slightest improvement.

But this is a human issue. It’s something we all have to look at and deal with.

I have a cousin who is in town. And I’ve been analyzing a lot of things about him, his choices, the hopes he has. And upon further discovery unpeeling other layers about his world living in a southern town with not a lot of options and how our lives are so different, based on decisions our mothers made respectively.

Where you live, where you go to school, who is your advocate and how powerful your advocates are dictate where you’ll go. It is unfair, because countless people who were brilliant and wonderful and could give something to the world may have lived and died in poverty in some far off place we’ve never heard of, or right around the corner in a community that is overlooked and looked down upon.

There’s fate, there’s belief in hard work and timing. There’s figuring out it’s all in who you know, which has contributed to most of my most amazing opportunities and experiences hands down. It was up to me to prepare myself for the experiences, but I had to somehow get connected. I had to express my need, and that if given the chance I could take it and run with it.

I had to establish a track record with people where they’d want to vouch for me.

Sometimes I feel small and insignificant. I think a lot of us feel that way these days.

I’ve been in deep conversations with the people I love talking about what we’re supposed to do about all of this trouble in the world.

I’ve tried to comfort and fire myself up by reminding myself that we all have a lane.

We all have gifts and talents and we can’t confine ourselves to fit into the one thing that a whole bunch of people deem is the one or two or even three possible ways to solve a problem.

You have to go with what fits, you have to go with something that you’ll want to be consistent with.

So if you are a writer, I say, write. Write about your pain. Then write about possibilities. This blog helps me.

If you are a doctor or medical professional, don’t dismiss your work as a service to the community because you do it everyday and get paid for it. You have a talent and a skill to heal people, that’s your lane.

If you love to cook, cook for people who need it. A good meal from the heart means a lot to people.

If you are a good listener, listen to people who are hurting. Sometimes people just need to vent and feel like they have been heard.

Do you play sports? Round up some folks and play a game.

Like kids, help your friends who have kids and babysit.

Give money to an organization that does things that you support and believe in.

Sit down with someone and share knowledge if they are up for it.

We limit ourselves, and we judge others based on what we think they are doing or not doing. We judge people about how aware we think they should be. We judge and judge and judge but we never have all of the information.

I continue to be really weary and anxious. I’m trying to keep grasp of a faith I often question, trying to map out the difference between what I truly believe from what I’ve been told to believe and reconciling what’s in between and if that is my truest belief and if that’s what God really wants me to find and connect to at the end of the day.

It doesn’t help that I’m on the hunt for a new job, with a very specific deadline.

I seriously wish I could take a week or two to simply rest and get my life together (preferably someplace tropical). But I don’t have that luxury. I have so many thoughts in my head and heart. I want to be better. But I have so many questions. And I wonder if what I have will be enough. And as one person, maybe I’m not supposed to be enough. I’m stardust in a vast unlimited sky. But if we all at least try, with real intention and from a place of honesty and humility, we’ll fill in the gaps together and where one falls short, it won’t matter.

I know I’m not the only one.

Stop Hiding

So there has been a recurring theme that’s been popping up lately.

I came to an epiphany while talking to a good ex. He was wishing me a belated happy birthday and we started talking about a lot of random things. And he said to me some very positive things about me to me.

I asked him if I had changed and to him, he said not one bit, but he was very worried when I was going through my rough patch. He told me he didn’t like it when I would be down on myself because I could do anything.

He said it so simply and with so much love and admiration it made me miss our relationship so much. And it reminded me that whoever I choose needs to shower me with that kind of support. It didn’t feel syrupy at all, because as soon as he said something sweet, he said something absurd and silly as he often does to break the moment. And I enjoy that about him.

I disclosed to my good ex, that for the last several years I had been hiding in a sense.

After what I thought was a failure at a newspaper I worked at, I went to another job for security and got satisfied with consistent raises and well-deserved promotions. When I fell in love, and was preparing to get married, I saw my impending move as a way out to something else; a convenient excuse for a fresh start that I was all too ready for. At that time my comfy job was making me miserable with a tyrant of a co-worker trying to ruin my life.

And finally, the feeling that the last time I had to choose between career and love, I chose a career. So to show I was all in, I went all in and chose the man. But, that still didn’t work out, I said laughing. I was existing and hiding after the split, just trying to survive. I was too unhappy to think about purpose, I used all of my energy to simply get out of bed and make it to work.

To that, the good ex said, no way. And that I was awesome for holding it down everyday and paying my bills and staying employed which a lot of people in our industry were having a very tough time doing. I was glad we were texting because I was blushing.

I told him about grad school and how it scared me a bit, but how in some ways, I had no other choice. It was time for me to take control and live up to my best self. And I can’t keep doing that being satisfied where I am.

Which brings me to work and a certain project my big boss personally selected me for.

I thought I could hide.

But for some reason, my big boss chose me. So, I was given a task and I did it, I represented. I was prepared, confident and cool. After a conference call today when I asked her a few questions about the direction of the project and preparation for a larger presentation. She basically said aside from her I was one of the best people on the team. And this was in an area I knew nothing about and had to study in the span of a week. But I brought my ideas. And people were receptive and enthusiastic. It made me feel good. She also basically told me to take the ball and run with it and I will be a presenter in a major out-of-town meeting.

Whether I liked it or not, I could not hide.

God gave me a whole lot of time to sit on the sidelines and occasionally step forward at work with moments of brilliance and leadership even when I didn’t want to, or when I just wanted to lay low. He gave me time to rest and heal and deal with my own confidence issues and insecurities.

But I’m noticing more and more, God presenting certain opportunities that say, it’s time for you to shine. Do the work, don’t fear, if I’m telling you to go and you do it, you will not fail. You will have favor.

So I started being thankful for this season, even if it means if I do something impressive today, folks are looking at me to do something even more impressive tomorrow. That’s a good thing and like my ex said, its beyond high time to start seriously believing in myself the way I used to.

When I was busy questioning why my big boss chose me to do something way different from what I do everyday, I had to stop and say why not me?

Take this challenge and impress the heck out of everyone in the room. You belong at the table. You can lead. And with the full endorsement of the big boss, I am very much empowered to do so.

Then it made me think about the bigger picture and how God gives us tasks of varying degree of difficulty to prepare us for greater things and higher things. So I started thinking about what I’m studying and the kinds of things I want to do, like be a guest on Melissa Harris Perry or be a thought leader in public health or in public health communications, and what’s going on right now with work is practice.

God is letting me practice on a smaller scale so I’ll be ready to work at the CDC or NIH or even the White House. All things are possible.

But I can’t accomplish any of those things if I’m hiding. Or if I’m doubting myself. He sent me a bunch of signs in unexpected places that I cannot ignore.

So join me and come out of hiding. If you have a gift and a skill and a sincere desire to do something, then come out of hiding, put aside your fear and do it, even if it feels like it’s on a small-scale. When you are honest, when you do things from the heart and you are trying your best, the right people notice and you find yourself rising. When you show gratitude to people who give you chances, you get more chances. When you give other people chances, you get bigger chances. You notice you aren’t where you were a few years ago and you are in places you’d never thought you’d be.

Don’t hide anymore.

Like It Or Not, You Are a Representative for What You Believe In

artemisphoto/freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s post has been rattling around in my mind now for about a week.

About twice a week, I go to my local 711 which is a convenience store and gas station to get my gas. From time to time, I also indulge in an iced coffee and a glazed doughnut.

Every time I walk out of the store, there is a car, with two women sitting inside who quietly ask if you have time to talk about Jesus.

I politely say no thanks, but today I was annoyed by them. I barely heard them today as I walked past, but I realized what they were doing and said, oh, these are the same ladies.

Now as much as the Jehovah Witness people annoy me in terms of their aggressiveness, showing up to our doorsteps just when we are about to have dinner, I respect their hustle and their zeal. They still annoy me and I pretend I’m not home.

I’d also like to shout out the Mormon boys in black slacks and white shirts riding bicycles– often times in the hood–not looking the least bit worried. They are gangsta, but they are committed.

These women setting up shop in a Camry, I should ask them what church they go to so I can rat them out, or help them out by telling whoever is in charge of that particular outreach ministry, to just put these ladies out of their misery.

Not everyone is a sales person, it’s either that or they’ve lost faith in what they are supposed to be selling. I can’t recall if these women sitting in the car this year, were the same women walking up to people at the pumps and being rejected last year. So they just gave up.

Either these ladies need to quit, or their church needs to grab a page from the Mary Kay book and give these chicks a pink car as an incentive and recharge them up about the message and vision. Mary Kay ladies, Avon ladies those women are passionate about their products. They are looking good, they are confident, they make you want to be a part of the brand, not only by buying the products, but selling them too!

So it made me think. If you are representing your church and your God and you want people to join and be down with it and you are doing it in such a lackluster, lazy way, it’s not very attractive. I don’t want to go to that church if this is how the people who signed up to be there really feel about it.

Why do you think so many people go to mega churches these days?

It has to be good if this many people show up here every week. I want to be a part of this group.

When I lived in the south, the first thing people asked me was, “What church do you go to?” That affiliation meant something and the folks down there were serious about it. If you didn’t have the connection, even if you were almost the devil yourself, they kind of questioned your connection to the community. And among the elite southern black folk, the question that followed or preceded the church question was, to what sorority/fraternity do you belong. Southern folks want to know where you stand, what you believe in and what you represent.

Those ladies made me drill down deeper in my own thoughts and made me think about the fact that whether or not I like it, I’m a representative of all sorts of things. I represent where I’m from, where I’ve been and what I believe.

So, you all know me, I made a list.

I represent my family. My folks reminded me of this every time I acted a fool. And because I come from a small town and a well-known family that was active in said town, the stakes were higher. I represented my last name and there were expectations.

Where I’m from. I’m proud to be from New York and I’m proud to be a Long Islander.

Women. I represent women. I believe in women, I believe in the advancement and empowerment of women and our value to the world. So I have to represent those things by respecting myself, respecting other women, and trying to help uplift other women.

Howard University. This is a big one, I love, love, love my school. Me and my fellow alums we beam with pride. We stand on the shoulders of other great alumni that came before us and you cannot leave that place without feeling like it is a part of you and you a part of it.

Journalism. I represent journalism, because I am a journalist. I’ve been doing it for years and it is a part of who I am. I argue it’s merits and talk about the craft of reporting and accuracy and source building in an age of blogging and being able to add information to Wikipedia sites. People trust the media less than ever, and there are folks like me who are crying out not to shut us out, because we seriously are trying to get you the correct information while so much other information is flying around out there.

Black Folk. Yeah I said it. Everywhere I go, I can’t hide my color. It’s important to me to negate stereotypes, by being me.

Faith. I consider myself to be a liberal Christian. I’m working on myself daily and find myself having longer and more deep, real conversations with God. I learned a long time ago, people who take their role as a representative seriously without badgering people to come to church, but just by letting their light shine consistently entices others to come to church on their own.

Speaking of representation of beliefs and organizations, I’ll give you two examples.

A dear friend of mine is an excellent photographer. She talks about it all the time, she talks about it with such love and passion. It’s changed her life. She is obsessed with getting better and she surrounds herself with people and experiences to get better and she makes a number of sacrifices to achieve goals she’s set within her craft. She makes me think about the things I’m passionate about and go after them with the same ferocity. She is indeed an ambassador and representative of photography.

Another dear friend of mine joined a sorority after college. She loves her sorority, not just because she has a bunch of clothes and accessories and art work celebrating the Greek letters and colors, but because she believes in their values and the message and the commitment to community the group holds as it’s cornerstone. She has such passion for the organization, she travels for meetings, organizes and supports other chapter’s events. Just like my photographer friend, she lights up and can talk on and on and on about it and with passion. She makes me almost want to join, and that’s not even my thing. But all of her photos and activities and her passion for it, makes it attractive.

I feel bad for the church ladies sitting in the car. God is an awesome thing to be excited about. If they’ve lost their passion to beat the pavement to win souls, they may need to channel their energies in other Kingdom building activities.  Maybe they should teach a Sunday school class, or be the folks who volunteer in the soup kitchen or pour the communion wine in those ity bitty cups. Maybe they should help people with financial literacy or hold classes on healthy living. They are older women, maybe they can help young moms with parenting classes. There’s so much to do. There’s no excuse not to find one thing to be passionate about.

What do you represent? Or what do you think you should be representing but you’ve lost passion for it?

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