My introduction to the world of the fabulous 40s has been one that I can only describe as indescribable. There have been so many lessons learned through teaching, trial and error that I feel like a cap, gown and diploma from the School of Life is soon awaiting me.
On March 16, 2012, I hit the big 4-0. I’ve loved, embraced or either accepted everything that day would lead to. Now as I get ready to plan celebrations for the big 4-1 (if there’s such a thing as the big 4-1) I was thinking of things I’ve learned along the way at different stages in life. I can hear the little girl, young lady and semi-grown woman speaking back to me. Here’s what she said as she took me back down memory lane….
- At Age 5-Naptime is a privilege. It’s truly the snooze you can use! You’ll appreciate rest more than you know, sooner than you’d expect.
- At Age 10-Thank God for the biggest conflicts in life being who would hold the “Double Dutch” rope, which New Edition member was the cutest and which “Candy Lady” had the best pickles and Jolly Ranchers.
- At Age 15-You are not ready for love. This is true since you had to drag a 50 feet, vanilla-colored phone cord to sneak and talk past 10pm. This is especially true since most of your “romantic” memories involved getting a high school “Candy Gram”, trips to the bowling alley, Cobb Midfield Six Theater and Quincy’s for yeast rolls, hanging at George Ward, Eastlake and Bessie Estell Park, and lots and lots of crying and confusion. In spite of it all, know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
- At Age 20-Focus on school, not being social. The Citizen Club (your party club of choice) is gone and many of the culprits from your fraternity friends of choice either took a long time to finish school or were secretly studying while your friends and you were oogling over them. That final semester of 26 class hours, a part-time job and internship took more out of you than you knew. It didn’t have to be that way if you would have studied a tad bit more. (On another note, GIRL….the boys you didn’t want were the ones you needed. And it’s okay to put on a few more clothes. Yes, you were cute and all, but cute shines through, even being covered up…ijs!) Again, know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
- At Age 25-Make the most out of connections. God granted you wonderful opportunities to meet amazing people from all walks of life. At this age, you’d interviewed stars, worked for an up-and-coming star, rubbed elbows with influential people from all around the country and made a difference in your community. Never pull the plug on people meant to be prominent in your life. On another note, crying will not make the wrong one come back. What it will do is mess up your day at work and make you have bags. Besides, by the time he does come back (and he will) you won’t want him. Dry it up and know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
- At Age 30-Always be on guard and ready to defend your destiny. Whether it’s your health, finances, personal life, or calling stay ready to rumble and look remarkable while doing it:) Cherish friends and look for your assigned angels on earth each chance you get. God has stacked your deck with some heavy-hitters in the field of family and friends. Know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
- At Age 35-Change is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Look for God in everything, even if it doesn’t make sense. Put your pain to work. It cost you enough, you might as well make it pay restitution. Share what you know. Learn to laugh again. Open your mouth and speak. Stay positive, even when people doubt you. Put family first. Be grateful. Know that EVERYTHING will be alright!
- At Age 40-Know that EVERYTHING, absolutely EVERYTHING will be alright!
Here’s a little secret. Life is full of ups and downs. Often when the up finally arrives, we’re still so down we can’t see that “up” has entered the building. So many times we finally arrive at the place that has been prepared for us and allow fear to talk us out of participating, appreciating and celebrating.
There’s something about having a prayer answered that, if truth be told, can be a bit frightening. It’s almost as if, as long as the prayer hasn’t been answered you have all the confidence in the world of how you will be once it is. Then it actually is answered and doses of doubt try to creep in. That’s not cool:)
How many parents have prayed for a child then been afraid of the process of rearing them? How many people have prayed for a mate then developed “cold feet” en route to, and after the alter? How many have prayed for an opportunity then tried to talk themselves out of being qualified for it once the offer was received?
It makes no sense to go through what you’ve gone through to get to where you’ve gotten only to give up. God has so much in store for those that love and honor Him. One of the ways people in the Bible marked victories and memorable occasions was to celebrate! They would have feasts (dinners or parties) that lasted days because they knew the value of a promise expected or a promise fulfilled. And from what I read they would “par-tay” in the best Godly way with food, family, music… and DANCE despite whatever was behind them and because of what was ahead.
Haven’t you been through enough already, not to allow fear to talk you out of what’s ahead? Don’t you owe God at least a time of rejoicing and celebration for all He has done to or through you?
The moral of the story is:
There’s a trend that seems to discount the potential payoff of errors and the payback making a mistake and growing from it can provide if you make the most of it. It has almost become automatic to write a person off simply because they failed, and to not allow them an opportunity to rise again. In today’s society it’s as if we are waiting with hopeful eyes and ears to watch a person fall or hear of another person being human and doing what humans tend to do…mess up.
Contrary to what many may believe, but evident starting from the days of the Bible, people who have messed up and been redeemed can teach a lot if they learn and you listen. Look at King David or Saul/Paul from the Bible. They messed up BIG and were able to be used for even bigger. Experience and error can often teach just as much, or more than education. Am I saying you should purposely pursue wrong? Absolutely not, but if you’re going to mess up from time-to-time you may as well go through the healing and heeding process and do something good with it. There’s nothing like going through a situation the wrong way that helps instill in you how to do it the right way.
So I ask you, what do you plan on doing with what you’ve done? What mistakes have you made, and made up for that can now be used to help others? Think about them and put them to work to bless others and you. Don’t allow others, or your own mind to make you carry around the weight of shame because of flaws and failures. And certainly don’t place the weight of shame on others because of mistakes they might have made. Never discount the value of what man can offer because of the mistakes he might have made. Some of the biggest victories were born from defeat, and a few repeats of defeat.
There’s something about a “do it all” that makes life very interesting. You know the kind of person that has his or her hands in a little bit or this and a little bit of that and views the word “no” as a foreign language.
The thing about a “do it all” is that, despite our greatest efforts some things still don’t get done, and what is accomplished often comes at the expense of our own mental, physical or financial health. Well aware that I’ve been a “do it all” all my life, I share these sentiments with the greatest level of understanding…get rid of the “do it all” disease!
The first step to our cure is taking on a dose of “no”. Sometimes we simply have to say “no” or “not right now” and be okay with it. I’ve learned that N-O is a two letter word for a reason. Just two letters should make it easier for you to say and walk away (not literally, but you catch what I’m saying?) The next step is sharing the load. Through trial and error I’ve figured out that if we could do it all alone it would get done. That’s why people with the “do it all” disease often find themselves coming up short in one area because of time devoted to another. We need help! I’m sure we all know the person with the flourishing career and failed marriage. Jesus was the perfect example of sharing the load. He was the greatest Man to ever walk the face of the earth and yet, everywhere He walked He had a team of people walking with Him to help carry out His purpose. Lastly, and probably most important is what I’d like to call “rest-ation”. Yes, that’s a homemade word, but I’m sure you know what I mean. “Rest-ation” is a vacation for your body and mind. The key to healing from any physical ailment is rest. The same is so for “do it alls”. We have to rest, without fail, without excuse and without reservation. Sometimes we have to tell our minds to shut down before our bodies take the lead.
The secret many “do it alls” don’t want to accept is that long after we’re long gone the work, events, errands, housework, social scenes, carpooling, athletic events, etc., etc. etc. will still be there. We might as well get rid of the “do it all” disease and be there with them.
An associate told me that if she lived the life I’d lived she’d be “happy and confident all the time too”. The mere sound of that comment sent my mind into the kind of flashback only found in a bootleg B-movie. I wanted to say, “First of all, I’m not happy all the time. However, I do try to keep my confidence and composure in tact!” But I didn’t respond in anger. Instead I reminded myself of my resume, my reactions and the Reason behind them all.
Yes, I am confident. Not just because Sylvester and Angennetta Scott reared me that way, but because every day I have an Assurance that’s out of this world, in charge of this world and involved in my world:) His name is Jesus.
Only He could keep me confident in the midst of childhood illnesses too many to name and adult issues too many to number including losing hair, gaining weight, a disfigured arm, an ill-functioning leg, an eye coming out of the socket, a near fatal disease with heart attack level blood pressure warranting 17 pills a day, mini-surgeries, major surgeries and just about everything in between. He kept me confident enough to keep going through the brutal murder of my first love, enough broken heart stories to fill a spicy New York Times Best selling book, being a C-average student that was talked about for being too tall, too skinny and having lips and a head that were too big for my body. No one but Jesus could keep me assured that things can and will get better through death of loved ones and watching the struggle of others, a divorce that lead to no job, no insurance, no benefits and no church all in one day, spending thousands to have a baby that wasn’t a part of God’s plans, being mistreated and misunderstood by people I would have to forgive and allow back in my life, walking away from the career path (and salary) I wanted to pursue what God said only to find that to be short-lived and choosing to get up everyday and LIVE on days when I’d rather hide out under a rock. Are you seeing where I’m going? Better yet, are you seeing where I’ve been?
I’ve learned that life is not about what happens. It’s about Who you have when it happens that keeps you assured. So please don’t dare confuse my confidence. My confidence flourishes not because of anything that I’ve done. It also doesn’t flounder because of anything that’s been done to me. My confidence is alive and well because of Who’s alive in me making all things work out for my good!
Being in college, in your 20’s or out of your parent’s home is fun, but there’s a lot of other STUFF that comes along with it that isn’t! As I was driving to work one morning I thought about what I would have wanted someone to say to me (or wish I would have listened to from those who actually said it), about the practical parts of life after high school and before the official start of the “grown with a husband, a house, responsibilities, children and a job” world.
A recent trip to a high school basketball tournament where far too many of the young ladies were scantily clad, feisty (not is a good way) and clearly unaware of their inner and outer beauty reinforced the need for me to share this post again.
So here’s what I would have said to the tall, scrawny teenage girl who helped me become the woman I am today through trial and a lot of error. Here’s what I would also say to any young lady making her way through this often crazy thing called life.
Love who you are. You can’t expect love from others if you don’t extend it to yourself.
The tears you cry today will either make sense or make you stronger.
Save some money. Get an education. Learn to cook. Learn how to change a tire.
Shopping on a budget is beautiful.
Pace yourself with food. One day the pounds can catch up with you.
There’s a good chance that the love of your life right now won’t be the love of your life forever…and that’s okay.
Learn from each association. Always do a self-check and continually prepare yourself for who and what God desires for you.
Demand that a young man is nothing less than his best. Settling is for pilgrims. He should pursue you, respect you and help bring out the best in you, point blank, period.
It’s never too late to ask for help. It’s better to ask and receive than need and not get.
Your friends today can be your friends for a lifetime…good or bad. Choose wisely.
You’re worth WAY more than you know. One day you’ll know it and want to make sure your life shows it.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to grow and know people who aren’t like you, but can teach you a thing or two.
Some of the best friendships will be born when bad relationships die.
One day, through age, illness, and plain old life you may not be as cute as you are today. Always make sure character, class and couth remain in tact.
Keep your clothes on please.
Never be afraid of being unique. If you don’t speak like, think like, act like, or look like everyone else consider that an honor.
People will never forget what you do, one way or the other. Make sure what they remember is a true, good reflection of who you are.
- Don’t gossip, be a bully, be messy, negative or angry all the time,
- Smile often and laugh even more.
Never lose sight of your own purpose and dreams. You were born for a specific reason.
We all need balance because chaos isn’t cute! God did not intend for our lives to be filled with chaos, tension, confusion, frustration, and spiritual defeat. Two of my favorite Scriptures from the Bible say “With God ALL things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) and “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
When we Seek God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, our day(s) will go more smoothly and we will be able to say YES to the things we need to and say NO to the things we do not need to do. More importantly, we’ll be able to handle any unexpected challenges with more peace and poise. In the hustle and bustle of the world around us, as easy as that’s said, it’s often difficult to do. So how do we do make sure we enjoy the beauty of balance with calm and no chaos?
- Pray…before you say Yes.
- Practice saying No to the unnecessary so you’ll be ready when you need to. Look in the mirror and say No 10 times. Do this every day for a week, or for as long as you need to to get used to using it. (I know it sounds silly!)
- Make a “To Do List.” Do this the night before you go to bed. Share the list with the Lord. Ask Him to direct you as to what’s important and what’s not.
- Shut down your brain from time-to-time.
- Learn to laugh at things that made you cry.
- Pace yourself making sure to allow time for the unexpected. It will happen, just don’t let it get the best of you.
- Always include fun time, personal time and family time in your “To Do List.” Have standing appointments with family and friends.
- Remember you’re not Superman or the Bionic Woman. Even they had super friends to help them. Get help when you need it.
- Do not agree to do something for the wrong reasons. You’ll regret it from the beginning, in the middle and in the end.
- Have a system of relaxation and refreshing in place. Use it and stick to it.
- Lastly, always remember the order of life: God first, self second and family third. All else will simply have to get in where it fits in.