Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…


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Between Two Worlds

Many of us find ourselves between two Worlds. The first world is the one based on what used to be–when things were “safe.” The second world is more uncertain. It is uncomfortable and unfamiliar terrain. As we stand perched between the two, we struggle with our identity. Will we go back to being the person we were before things “changed,” or will we have to readjust and accept that our new normal also forces us to be a new us? Many of us reminisce on the recent past as if we are our ancestors telling their great-grandchildren what happened “back in the day.” We remember the freedom to go where we wanted without having to think about what our choice could do to our families. We remember hearing someone sneeze and us quickly responding “God Bless You,” instead of everyone scattering to all sides. We remember what it was like to choose to stay inside. We remember.

We are forced to adjust, realizing that things will never quite be the same. For some, it’s just the way it is. For others, it is an unfortunate and annoying inconvenience. Still, for others, there is the tragedy of adjusting to a life in which a loved one may have been an unexpected casualty of this war. Between two Worlds, we wonder if we will ever feel as “free” as we used to feel. Will the sunshine feel the same? Will shopping in the store be a welcome distraction, or will it now have us hypervigilant about who is around us. No doubt about it, things will be different.

But, as we straddle the fence between the two worlds, no matter how much has changed, some things remain: The impenetrable ability of people to bounce back and thrive still holds true; the intrinsic optimism and hope for better will keep people striving to see what they desire; the will to survive will have us struggling through to see the other side. In this in between time, we will regroup. We will mourn. We will wonder. In the end, we will arrive in this new normal prepared to rediscover those things that make us smile, laugh, hope, love…

There is an “after this.” So, like many of you, I wonder how things will be in this new world. There is some trepidation, and I will be cautious while re-entering into society, but one thing I know is that there can be and absolutely is better on the horizon. So, prepare yourself. We’re going in.


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No Apologies

I remember a time when it was normal for me to harp on my low moments. It was how I shaped my existence and how I determined whether I was coming or going. I never thought that glorifying the negative would be how I functioned, but doing so became a place of comfort and familiarity for me. It was easier, in those moments, to accept what was rather than believe that there was better. So, instead of hoping, I succumbed to the cycle of low moments, defeat, doubt, and fear.

It wasn’t until I began to realize that it is not just the low moments that define who we are. Yes, those moments can change the periphery of our lives, but it is also those moments that take our breath away and bring us joy which change our lives. For a long time, I was focused on negative, so when good things came, I often hid them or tried to downplay them. I went to the other extreme of “hiding my good fortune” because I didn’t want others to think I was rubbing it in their faces. I wanted to still be accepted and not seen as “better than.” But, then I thought about the years of negativity, and the times when it was my daily struggle getting past certain things, and my mindset shifted.

No longer would I hide the blessings coming my way, and no, I wouldn’t be arrogant about it; however, I know that my blessings can indeed encourage someone else. No longer will I apologize for the highlights in my life. I dwelled on the low moments, so it’s time to focus on something else.

Too often, we are so concerned with how others will see us when we talk about the good things in our lives, but just as we harp on the negative, we also have to talk about the good. Never apologize for blessings. Every single one is another one to be thankful for.


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Enough

We all have feelings of inadequacy…that overwhelming feeling that we’re not good enough. Many of us have spent years of our lives trying to prove to others that we matter, and daring anyone else to call our bluff. In our quest to prove our worth, sometimes we have sought validation from those who really don’t matter and we have pushed away those who do. This never-ending quest to prove ourselves usually only ends in disappointment, and that disappointment is not so much with others as it is with ourselves. At one point we should have realized within ourselves that no matter our shortcomings, we are still more…

For years, in one way or another, I struggled with my feelings of just not being enough…in friendships, with family, in my marriage, on my job…and the list goes on. Now, there have been people who have told me and intimated their belief in my inadequacy, but much of my struggle was about me; however, there comes a point when regardless of the things about you which are still a work in progress, you can look at yourself and say, “I am still enough.” Maybe I am not everything “they” want me to be. Maybe I am not the image of whom even I thought I would be at this point in my life, but “I am enough.” Tell that negativity party going on in your mind that the party is over. There is another part of your story waiting to be written. You are enough.


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Fruitful Barrenness

I remember it like it was just yesterday…”you have PCOS…” Then, I remember as the doctor’s, year-after-year, told me that I would need medications to regulate everything. As time went on, doctor’s begin to talk about infertility. I watched them make faces each time they asked about birth control and I denied using any. They asked about how long I had been married, and they made more faces. I saw it in their faces before they told me it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to have children due to my condition. Then, my last doctor stopped returning my calls, letting me know there was nothing else she could do unless I opted for an experimental surgery that could possibly help. So, there I was, at the end of the line, or so I thought.

But during the journey, despite the heartache and struggles, in spite of watching so many others get what I so desperately desired, I was planting seeds. I encouraged others. I pushed others to believe. I wiped others’ tears. In the back of my mind I knew that even in my heartache, others still needed me to be who God created me to be. Slowly, I began to see the fruits of my labor. I saw people at the moment they chose to keep believing. I watched as others saw their dreams realized, and I rejoiced. Aching inside, I celebrated the fact that while my body appeared to barren, my spirit was alive and well. It was a daily battle, but one I chose not to lose.

Just as I remember the doctor’s telling me about the blemish in me, I remember the day I started feeling a bit “strange.” It was an uncanny feeling, and I took a pregnancy test more to rule out the possibility than to affirm it. To my surprise, what I had almost given up on had become a reality. Three more tests later, I finally believed. My body had rejected what the doctor’s told me.

Ten years later, I am finally seeing what was becoming a distant hope. This was a reaffirming moment, a necessary moment.

So, today I come to encourage you. Maybe you have some things you are believing will come to pass. Maybe the naysayers are more rampant than the encouragers. Keep believing even if the belief shrinks to just a glow in the corner of your heart. In the waiting season, sow into others. Be to others what you sometimes need people to be to you. In your barren place, be fruitful. Let your spirit flourish in the midst of. This is not the end.


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Good Enough

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m just not good enough”, and you believed it deep down on the inside of you? Have you found yourself comparing yourself to someone else’s greatness, and finding your own self severely lacking? When was the last time you looked at yourself and said, “I am good just how I am?” Are you still thinking? That long, huh? Yeah, I understand.

I had a discussion with someone not long ago, and he reminded me that in the whirlwind of all that I do, I had lost the capacity to consider myself. I helped everyone else. I got pleasure from seeing others happy. But when he asked me what makes me happy, it took a while to think about it. Caught up in everyone else, I realized that part of my drive to make everyone happy was so that they didn’t look at me and see that I was struggling. I didn’t want anyone to see that I didn’t think I was good enough to live up to the big dreams God put in me, so I pushed everyone else’s vision, supported everyone else, encouraged everyone else…and somewhere along the way, I forgot about me. It is easy to do. Sometimes, we get so great at hiding our need from others that they begin to think we don’t need anything from them, and they become content allowing you to push their vision while yours gets dropped off on the side of the road. It’s not totally their fault. But as I spoke with this person, I began to remember the dreams I had put on the top shelf, not totally out of reach, but far enough away so that I wasn’t bothered by the sight of unrealized dreams.

I understood again that if the dreams were given to me, then I am good enough to function in them. It is timeout for losing the essence of me trying to be everything else for everyone else. Not to say that we shouldn’t support others and help push others, but not at the detriment of losing ourselves in the process. So maybe you have allowed yourself to believe that you’re not good enough, pretty enough, old enough, young enough, popular enough…destroy the lie. You ARE good enough. Now own it.


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Do I Really Matter?

A question as old as time itself…and an answer that can be heartbreaking…this question often reverberates through our minds. It makes sense because we are only human, but sometimes acknowledging the fragility of our humanity does not offer us solace when the answer to this question leaves us wanting. What happens when you ask yourself this question, then you look around at the “evidence” in your life, but you can’t find anything that seems to lean towards the answer being a resounding “yes”? Do you just stop trying? Do you give in to the depression that waits just an inch outside of your proverbial bubble? Do you even dare to keep believing that you will see everything your heart could ever hope for? Do you?

For some reason, I have been in this place of wondering if who I am and what I do matters? With all that I give, and in each of my businesses, I have still wondered if I am talking to and encouraging myself. Seeming lack of response, and watching what seemed like everyone else supporting others, left me in a low place. I stopped writing. I stopped encouraging. I stopped hoping. I hid myself in plain view, but I was not me. The funny thing was…no one seemed to notice. That left me even deeper in the hole of depression until those old thoughts of just disappearing and never coming back began to resurface. Yeah, those negative and dismal thoughts that are only supposed to apply to anyone else but a motivator…those thoughts. I was in a rough place.

Finally, I couldn’t take that place anymore, and I cried out to God hoping that at least He could see me. He could. He never left. I just stopped believing. So, piece by piece, I began to rebuild my broken heart and shattered dreams. No, no one came to my rescue, and yes it still feels at times that no one cares, but who I am and what I do is about more than just me. If I don’t write, who will miss being encouraged because I didn’t do it? If I don’t speak, who would miss hearing the very words that could save their lives? If I don’t mentor and coach, what young person will grow up believing that they don’t matter? If I am not me, someone else is affected. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, that one truth remains.

Your life matters, and maybe you get tired of giving and not seeming to receive, but keep believing that one day things will look so different. One day you will look back at these times and thank God you didn’t quit when it was easier to just walk away. There is something so magnetic and necessary about you, so don’t allow life to lie to you. Your circumstances are not bigger than you. The hurt can’t conquer you. You MATTER.


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Speaking Into the Silence

Lately, I have been a bit discouraged. Yes, even me…the motivator, the one who encourages others, the one who always has positive things to say and pushes others out of their low moments, yes me…and it has been one of those times when only those who are closest to me, or those who cared to really pay attention, have known just how discouraged I have been. Built in to the discouragement has been hurt, disappointment, let downs, and being looked over–a convoluted concoction of negativity. It almost made me give up, not just “throwing in the towel”, but burning it to the point where the thought of doing what I am supposed to do does not rise again. At least, those were my thoughts. Even the most optimistic people get down when it seems support is overwhelmingly lacking, when it seems “everyone else” gets the attention you wished you could, or even when those you count on to be there when you need them have better things to do. We are definitely all human, and no matter your purpose/passion, you still have a heart that can be hurt. So, I contemplated giving everything up, figuring no one would miss what I have to say or what I do, and just when I got to that point of give up, I heard something within me say “Speak to the silence”.

My first thought after that was, “Why should I? What difference will it make?” But when I thought about it more, clarity began to come. I began to remember the times when I have literally thought I am writing, speaking, or advocating to myself due to the lack of response, but then from nowhere someone would comment or write to me telling me how something I said had touched their lives. I then began to remember the times that even writing down what I was feeling was cathartic for me and got me out of my feelings. From there, I thought about how many times I have not responded to something others have said or written, and how they too could be feeling like I have recently felt, but the fact was that their words had meant something because I remembered them. So, as I thought, I realized that while the silence can be deafening, there is still life in the silence. There are still listening ears and watching eyes in the silence. Lives can still be changed, and passions can be built just by me deciding to do what I am meant to–even when I feel unheard and unseen.

Maybe you have felt that you are unnecessary, or that your words mean nothing. As you look around, it seems others have support, but you are alone…and maybe if that is the case at the moment, know that you were built for this. Who you are and what you do is necessary for SOMEONE on this vast planet of ours, and if you stop speaking/writing/motivating/marketing/encouraging, you will miss your opportunity to put an imprint even on that ONE person’s life. I know the process is difficult. I understand wanting to be embraced and encouraged. I also understand wanting to just sink into the background not thinking you will be missed, but keep speaking even when the silence gets deafening. Keep being even when it costs everything within you to be. Keep believing when everything around you makes it seem that what you are believing in and for will never happen. As long as you are alive, there is a possibility of having everything your brilliant mind could ever imagine, so get back to speaking to the silence. One day, there won’t just be echos, but a response. Keep going.