20 Hard Lessons You Need to Learn Before 30 http://ow.ly/aDUH30dDIL3
Lucy. Lucy, Lucy, Lucy.
She’s the friend every woman has but doesn’t really like. Whenever she comes to visit, she’s a pain in the butt and literally saps every bit of energy you THOUGHT you had stored up. The only time she doesn’t come around is when you have a kid, but then she’s right back at your front door after they’re home a month or so.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Lucy is the menstrual cycle that comes ‘round every month. The two of us have had a hate-hate relationship since I was in middle school and it’s only gotten better because I know once I hit my fifties she’s outta here! So I can deal with her for another 20 years or so.
Anywho, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had SERIOUS issues whenever Lucy came to visit. More than normal – to the point my little twelve-year-old body could turn from a shining example of happy-go-lucky youthfulness into a tangled pretzel of agony in a matter of seconds.
As I’ve approached 30 years living on this earth, Miss Lucy has brought more bounce to the ounce as the pain has doubled, my energy has gotten freakishly low, and a myriad of other oddities have found themselves sneaking into my life.
When my natural instinct has always been to quit my job, curl up in a ball, and sleep all day; Lucy has forced me to pull it together, pray, and get through!
Lesson # 1 – Pain is inevitable in life.
On a scale of 1 – 10, the pain I endure every time Lucy pops in to say hey is about a good — umm — CHILDBIRTH! Now I know I’ve never had kids before, but I’m pretty sure the pain I experience is as close to childbirth as I can get! I’m talking pain where your entire body writhes, pain that lingers every time you sit up, pain that makes you want to throw up and pass out. Yeah. That type. Regardless of how much I hate pain, this experience every trip around my body’s sun keeps my attitude in check. It reminds me that I am human and as unfair as it may seem, I’m not the boss of everything. The only thing I can truly control is my response to negative experiences during this life of mine. I don’t have to let painful events or happenings warp my view of the future or kill my hope….I can just deal, choose to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and push through!
Lesson #2 – I need God.
Maybe this should’ve been listed first. My oh my – the need for God has been scribbled in jumbo marker ink all over my entire existence! To experience the emotional ups and down, energy plummets, and nausea has taught me to lean on the everlasting arms of Abba Father! There is absolutely NO WAY in this entire universe that I would be able to make it through anything without Him. I need the strength only given by God through my salvation through Jesus Christ. I as a mere human do not possess the strength necessary to DEAL with half of the stuff I’m able to day in and day out. I’m don’t agree with “we’re all gods and goddesses” – naw, we are image bearers of God, but we ain’t Him ya’ll. HE made our bodies as they are. HE gives us that extra burst of juice we need to push through the pain. HE whispers to us “keep going, I’m with you” when life gets too hard to deal with. I (and my body) are physical testaments that the help of God is what’s allowed me to not check out.
Lesson #3 – Resilience is my spirit animal.
I’ve always said that resilience is the primary name of my game. Since birth, I’ve had to bounce back from some pretty tough hands, and regardless of what I was dealt, found a way to grow from the experience. When Miss Lucy comes around, there is nothing “prissy or missy” about her. She is a savage Amazon warrior who plays rough and keeps you on your toes. One month, I may be out of work for a week. Over the course of several others, I’m fine. Some, I’ll have close calls and just pray my way through – but in each situation, I’ve found out that I was better than I was before. Whether it’s becoming stronger mentally, getting much needed rest physically, I’m able to emerge from Lucy’s visits happier and more renewed than I was before she came. Sure, I may be running on emotional fumes the first day or so after she leaves, but eventually, I get my mojo back.
Lesson #4 – There is never a time creativity can’t come out to play.
What I mean by this is, balancing the consequences of mother Eve’s idiotic decision-making skills has caused me to be creative in figuring out ways to stay working, making money, and functioning at a normal level. Whether that’s taking cat naps in my car or ignoring phone calls to sleep for 5 hours or create a makeshift anti-nausea tonic from ginger, carbonated water, and pain pills – my creativity is usually called to light. You always think of using your creativity to manipulate photos, paint, or create kiddie forts; but you never think of how creative you have to be when it comes to maintaining life balance!
I’m about 98.72% sure that reading this post has been one of the most oddly interesting things you’ve done today, but don’t let the lessons escape you. Though Lucy has taught me these things, they are still applicable to every aspect of life.
Be blessed ya’ll
Around 2013 I decided to really get serious about Bible reading. For some of you reading this you may have just blurted out loud….
“But you’re a Christian Joc, you’re supposed to take the bible seriously and read it!” You were probably also sporting one of these faces…..
— and what you may (or may not have) just blurted out is a valid response; yet the sad truth is, as society becomes more corrupt, the days become more hectic, and people become more comfortable with seeking selfish pleasures to “get away from it all” — SERIOUS bible reading (reading to actually understand it and apply it to real life) often takes a back seat….if it doesn’t end up getting thrown into the trunk out the gate.
Back to 2013…..
I decided if I was going to understand the story of the world and all that jazz, I needed to start from page one and read a little each day. I was able to successfully do this until I got to the book of Ezra, when I found myself getting a little off track. Life circumstances and changes caused me to lose focus and skip all the way into the New Testament. Well now it’s 2017 and I’ve decided to start back at the beginning and uncover what I missed before. Today, I was reading Numbers chapter 11 and I was hit with a spiritual revelation!
Up until now (Genesis-Numbers), the ancient Israelites were oppressed in brutal slavery for 400 years, miraculously freed from Egypt, graciously given food from Heaven, and yet reeked of ungratefulness! Here’s what I read:
1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.
10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
That sounds like a lot of us, doesn’t it?! We literally beg God to give us a miracle, then when He performs it, we get bored or tired of it, then want something bigger and better — totally ungrateful for the blessing we literally JUST received!
When the ancient Israelites first stepped out Egypt they were complaining, but when God delivered them via the Red Sea they changed their tune. They were glad to be out of slavery….until a little time passed and they got hungry. They went to Moses so he could ask God to send them food — BOOM — God drops manna from heaven and brings on a horde of quail for them to eat. They’re happy again….until they reach Mount Sinai and get bored again. They TOTALLY disregard the Living God Who LITERALLY just performed miracles out of nowhere and began making an idol to worship like they were back in Egypt. FACEPALM!!! Over and over they find themselves running on the hamster wheel of being grateful-ungrateful-satisfied-not satisfied …… it’s no wonder they stayed in the wilderness so long…. how could God trust the first generation Israelites with the Promise Land if they couldn’t even be satisfied with the starter blessings God had already showered them with!?!
Take a moment to think about everything in your life. Your job. Your home. Your mode of transportation. Your health. Your finances. Your love life. Your family.
Are you praying for and expecting God to give you more, but still missing the fact that you’re a smidge ungrateful for what you already have?
Take this lady I know:
She graduated from college between 2008 -2010 when the economy was plummeting and there were literally no good paying jobs available. She didn’t know how she was going to pay her loans, let alone survive. She didn’t know how she was going to afford rent, food, gas — ANYTHING! She prayed for a job and in less than 2 months was called by an old employer from high school asking if she needed a job. Sure she had to move back home and stay with her parents…sure she had no desire to work in the field she formally worked in…sure her paycheck was small and she was technically living below the poverty level — but she had a job, no rent payment, and enough to cover her bills. She was grateful! NOW fast forward 5 years later and she’s still working the same job. Though she filled out what seemed like a billion applications, she wasn’t able to find a job paying more money, or a position in the field she wanted to work in. She was MISERABLE! She was barely getting by juggling paying her bills and trying to maintain some sort of social life. She slowly became discontent, overly stressed, and despised the very thing she asked God for — her job!
In her eyes, her job was holding her back from the life she was truly destined to live. It hurt her to wake up every day, racking her brain on why it seemed career opportunities were passing her by, while the cost of living was going up! I’m happy to report that now, while it’s still a struggle, she’s more content with the blessings of having her basic needs taken care of and she hasn’t given up on her dreams. She’s just a little more thankful.
That woman developed the attitude of an Ancient Israelite and didn’t even realize it. I’m not God but I would dare say God hasn’t blessed her with anything more YET because it’s not the right time (He’s got something grand marinating behind the scenes) AND because her posture towards the blessings she’s already afforded still isn’t quite right. Like the Ancient Israelites, it’s quite possible that God is not giving her ALL of the blessings she could be getting because her attitude isn’t ready for it. Let’s say He was to give her the job of her dreams now, she’d probably tire of that too and start complaining about how much work it is or about how it’s not like her old job! I don’t know for sure, but it’s certainly a thought.
Take some time (as mentioned above) to reflect on your life and pray about it. Ask God to reveal any way you’re being ungrateful. Take time to thank Him for what He’s given you. Even if you don’t have as much money as you’d like, travel as much as you’d like, have the relationship or marriage that you’d like — you’re still blessed and God will supply ALL of your needs! Just continue to be thankful!
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
- Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
- Live with the 3 E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
- Play more games.
- Read more books than you did in 2010.
- Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
- Sleep for 7 hours.
- Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
- Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
- Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
- Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
- Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
- Dream more while you are awake.
- Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
- Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
- Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
- Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
- No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
- Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
- Smile and laugh more.
- You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
- Call your family often.
- Each day give something good to others.
- Forgive everyone for everything.
- Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
- Try to make at least three people smile each day.
- What other people think of you is none of your business.
- Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
- Do the right thing!
- Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
- However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
- No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
- The best is yet to come.
- Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.
This afternoon, I was perusing my FB timeline for content when I happened upon a post from The Praying Woman. It was adequately titled, “3 Reasons God May Remove Someone From Your Life”.
As I clicked on the link to prepare myself to for a nice, quick read, I found myself scrolling over the times in my life where friends or significant others seemed to float right on out the picture. For some instances, the reasoning was clear, but for others, not so much. When I read down to the last reason listed in the article, I found this:
3. Because sometimes our loved ones become more of a distraction than our enemies. This is God’s way of keeping us focused.
Today, I ask you this: Where does God fit in your life? Is He #1, #2, #3, or a better question would be… Is He even a priority in your life at all?
Sometimes we place our relationship with God on the back burner without even realizing it. We don’t give it our all like we do everything else.
Try not to be so focused on earthly relationships that you forget about your relationship with God. Switch the energy you’re currently putting into your distractions and refocus it where it’s needed, on Him!
You know those times where you have a “feeling” you might be right about a situation but talk yourself into thinking you’re over analyzing it too much? YES? Then you’ll know that this is exactly what BINGED in my mind when I read this.
A recent loved one who parted ways falls into this category, and not bashing them, but I realized our personalities mixed with the constant need to ‘upkeep’ our friendship/relationship ultimately brought it to a close. I was willing to overlook a few struggles in order to maintain consistent communication while obliviously overlooking the fact that my focus on God was creeping down to 2nd place. I found myself not feeling like my jovial, bubbly, NORMAL self as fear and doubt hopped into the front passenger seat of my life; all the while ignoring the signs that God was sending me.
YOU WILL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BESIDES ME!!!
I was making my friendship/relationship with this person an idol without knowing it and found myself more preoccupied with pleasing them and MAKING myself BE the right companion for them, that I totally ignored God! Yep, it’s a hard thing to admit, but I had to repent because I pushed God aside without even knowing it. I was all up and in works of the flesh trying to MAKE this thing work. That’s why God shut it all down! After a series of arguments and disagreements, this person and I parted ways and almost immediately, an entire ton of feathers lifted! By the time the sun rose, I was almost back to my former self. Sure this person is a great person as a whole, but here me when I tell you God will allow NO ONE to block the works HE desires to do in us. So whether that’s a sibling, friend, significant other, co-worker, even a parent — if we place anyone above God in ANY way, God will show up and cool it down. He’s not a “backburner” God.
So whether you’re doing it intentionally or not, stop making people idols in your life. If you find yourself thinking about them more than God — chances are you’re placing too much importance on them. If you spend all of your time with them (even to the point whether you just go work/school and stay up under them or call them) — then you’re probably making them an idol. There is nothing wrong with a good healthy investment into your relationships, but when it consumes you…. handle it before God does; because He will.
Be blessed, Joc
Soooooooooo it’s been awhile since I’ve spilled my thoughts onto these digital pages so let me commence to spillin’…..
Over the past few months, I ‘ve been gearing up for the website relaunch of my non-profit event The Opposite Sex Revealed. (I’m excited to official be able to say non-profit). At its core, The Opposite Sex Revealed (The OSR for short) is an annual panel forum hosted in Wilson NC that allows guests to dress up, enjoy positive and fruitful conversation while getting their deepest questions answered about and BY the opposite sex!
Naturally, all of this relationship and marriage talk has me in the mindset of — dun dun dunnnnnn love! Seeing as how my last relationship ended going on six months ago (it ended on pretty awesome terms, complete with mutual understanding and all — I’m blessed ya’ll #unicornbreakup) I again found myself single, back in a space where I began to observe the dating world around me.
One thing I’ve found (that didn’t change during the year and some change I was in a relationship) was the fact that COMPARISON and IDOLATRY have nearly saturated the entire sphere of love and marriage. What I mean by that is this: think about how dating must’ve been in the early 1900s compared to today. Today we can get a date with a swipe, we screen physical attributes before even meeting the person, and with our ability to travel, can carry on a relationship with someone a million miles away! If we feel they don’t fit in our life — on to the next. Before dating as we know it came into existence, there were no computers, cell phones, apps, access to world travel, and most people didn’t move from within 50 miles of their hometown. Many people (especially African Americans) didn’t go to college; let alone own a car so chances are you found your future spouse in the supermarket downtown or crossing the street.
Let me pause to say that I don’t advocate we shun everything technological and move to the Amish Country, but what I AM saying is, perhaps we should take into account that many of the elderly couples we see married 30, 50, even 70s years didn’t have access to the countless dating options we have today; thus they were put in a situation where the dating pool was simple and the lessons in love were hard.
I think this is one reason why there were more long lasting marriages “back in the day”. Yes, I’m aware, some people just married for security. Yes, I’m aware that some just married to keep their families together. Yes, I’m aware that many marriages of old were arranged. Yes I’m aware that some people just got married to the first person they dated because they felt “stuck”. I’m not talking about those.
I’m talking about the simple courtships that blossomed into fortified “ride or die” marriages through faith and the mindset to love through the tough times. Without the distraction of a million potentials crossing their eye gates every 3 nanoseconds, they were more likely to stick with the 80/20 rule and work through the minor issues and flaws that fell in that 20%.
Now-a-days, singles seem to fall into two categories:
GROUP A- They are afraid of commitment and often break up over minor flaws for fear of making the wrong choice. With so many potential mates out in the world, they are frequently going back-and-forth on whether or not they are dating the right person. They DO value marriage (or at least long-term companionship) but are often looking for a unicorn ….so they stay single as they float from person to person, refusing to FEEL like they’ve “settled”.
GROUP B- They have no current desire to commit or get married. They can be found consistently playing the field and have no problem changing from person to person until the time “feels right”. They often believe love is flawed and have no real faith or hope in it anyway, so they just see where life takes them.
The clash of these two groups in cahoots with the “many options” we have and the idolizing of #marriagegoals without the willingness to put in the work has made for ONE BIG DISASTEROUS POOL OF BROKEN HEARTS AND COUNTLESS SINGLES!
What do you think?
If you’ve had a long MONTH like I have, then you’ll enjoy this mini concert given by the recent winners of NPR’s #TinyDeskContest TANK AND THE BANGAS! Based in New Orleans, this group has pushed the envelope of everything I once knew as music. To be totally honest, I was losing hope for music in terms of innovation. Though I mainly listen to Christian/Sacred music, jazz and neo-soul holds a very special place in my heart. Something about it (like gospel or worship) lifts me up and away from the stresses of day-to-day responsibilities.
Yet and still, that genre has yet to birth something new. Other than Musiq Soulchild’s most recent project, and newcomer Chantae Cann — there is a familiarity that isn’t bad, but not altogether great!
THAT WAS UNTIL….. I happened upon TANK AND THE BANGAS’ submission video to the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. TALK…ABOUT…IT! The multifaceted eccentricities and grooves of each line and stanza took my mind on an unfamiliar musical rollercoaster that left me exhilarated and wanted more! I immediately subscribed to the groups’ Facebook page eager for more updates. Today, on what is shaping up to be the end of a SERIOUSLY LONG work week, I came across the gem posted below. When I though TANK and her people couldn’t do it…they gave me more! I think I’ll wrap up my commentary here and let you enjoy the fruits of my scrolling. Remember, if this has been a tough day, week, month — good music and prayer can always bring you up outta that funk! HAPPY FRIDAY YA’LL!