A Love Worth Waiting For…

New relationship…broken heart…woe is me, life sucks!

New relationship…so-called love…engaged…this won’t work, time to end this things…broken heart, maybe, sigh of relief, definitely, tears, yes, lots and lots of them…time out for just me, growing my career, having fun with family and friends, becoming a better me…life is great!

New relationship…wait a minute, this guy is really nice and he really likes me…ummmmmmm…my life is great, now what?  Love…really, love?  Uh-oh…I don’t do all of those mushy emotions…until now!

It’s Valentine’s Day week…everybody is supposed to be excited about the love of their life!  I’d say that I am!  But, when I think about the past 7 or 8 years of my life in terms of love and relationships, this hasn’t always been the case, my life has been a seesaw experience.  There have been incredible high and incredible lows, but I wouldn’t change the experiences that I’ve had for anything!  I have learned and grown so much because of them, and I can honestly say that they have made me better.

What did these experiences teach me?

I learned to how to be a self-sustaining adult.  I used to think that my success and my ability to fulfill my life dreams and goals was dependent upon the presence of somebody else in my life.  If my parents were no longer my support system, I needed a man in my life to be my provider.  I believed that my singleness and being a woman would never allow me to reach greatness, so I sulked thinking that I would never be more than average.  I thought I would never be a homeowner, I thought I would never be a mother, and I thought I would never have the finer things in life all because I believed my life depended on another human being holding my hand through life’s journey.  Flawed thinking and a reflection of low self-esteem, but thank God for growth and maturity!

I learned to love myself.  For a long time, I only found joy in the presence of other people.  I feared going to the movies alone or treating myself out to a restaurant.  I was reluctant to be the person who was dateless at a party and I was always jealous of the people in my life who found themselves in a relationship, healthy or unhealthy.  I always wanted what those couples had!  Sadly, because I had unrealistic expectations of what a “good” life looked like, I spent many days down and depressed, when I truly had many things to rejoice over!  Despite what I thought, I had a really good “sometimes single” life!

I learned how to make decisions for myself.  I have always loved my family, and for many years I had a family first mindset.  I did not waver from that thought process.  If my family called, I was going to be present.  I would miss functions with friends, significant others, or anyone else for my family.  My own life was not my priority, pleasing my family was.  And while, I still love my family a great deal, I also now have healthy boundaries in place.  I’m not going to let anyone be in harms way, my folks can always count on me in a pinch, but I’ve also learned how to consider myself when I make decisions.  I no longer feel obligated to go along to get along.

Perhaps, most importantly, I learned about the things that do not define love.  I used to have an image etched in my mind of what picture perfect love looked like!  He was tall, dark, and handsome (and likely from another country)!  He had a high-paying job, and was a homeowner before he met me.  All of the ducks were in a row in his life in my fantasy.  But I learned that love isn’t necessarily what we fantasize.  Love is not linked to a certain career.  Love is not linked to a certain salary.  Love is not linked to a certain family history.  Love is not linked to a college degree.  Love is not linked to a certain physique.  Love is not linked to a certain neighborhood.  Love has nothing to do with a lot of things we have been conditioned to believe it is linked to.  No, love really is patient and kind, selfless and forgiving, compassionate and supportive.  Love is hard and challenging, it takes serious work, but love is wonderful if it’s true and one opens up to the experience…

I’ve discovered that true love isn’t perfect, in fact, sometimes you want to give up because it’s easier.  But, I’ve also discovered that true love is always seeking to be the person that you need him (or her) to be.  True love wants to support you and encourage you and be present for you even if he (or she) cannot change a thing about your circumstances.  True love admits that he is only human, but, true love also declares that in his humanness, he always seeks God first, so He can refine his imperfections so he can strive to be perfectly aligned with God’s will for his life and the relationship.

Years after feeling sorry for myself, years after feeling so much hurt and pain, I’ve come to appreciate all of my life experiences because they have prepared me for my present place in life.  I’m still not perfect, but every hill and every valley taught me how to embrace love.  On the other side of these things, I’ve come to appreciate that I was never ready for the “loves” that I thought were for me in those earlier seasons of my life.  No…God was preparing me for a love that was worth waiting for!  Now, we shall see where the journey leads us…

Until God Says So…

Nearly a month ago, as my work day was coming to an end, I got a call that no one wants to receive.  Through the earpiece of my phone my crying mother said, “Dawn, you need to come home.  Mom-Mom is dying, she only has a few more days to live, and she wants to speak with all of her grandchildren tonight.”  Without thinking, my immediate response was, “I’ll be there, I’m leaving here in just a few minutes.”

Despite having just visited my grandmother the weekend before, I had to go, I had to see my grandmother, I had to be there for my mother…I had to be an adult and face the difficult challenge of death once again.  When I arrived at the hospital, I felt like I was on the set of Soul Food…my entire family was gathered in the halls of the hospital and despite our tears and emotions, my grandmother was offering her final words of wisdom to everyone and unlike me, she was very much at peace with the situation.

A month later, I’m happy to say that I didn’t face death that night, and death still hasn’t knocked on my grandmother’s door.  No, she’s alive, kicking, and amazingly getting stronger each day.  Interestingly, my oldest nephew declared on that challenging day a month ago that he had faith and believed that Mom-Mom was going to get better.  Well…out of the mouth of this child we were reminded that nothing happens until God says so!

I don’t know what my grandmother’s fate is…she may have just a few days left here with us, or she may have a few years, I really don’t know and am afraid to guess, but I do know this, God has not said it’s her time yet!  When I visited her last week, she shared with me that the Lord had brought her a mighty long way, and this same thought rings true in each of our lives.  Whether we choose to admit it or not, there are areas in each of our lives that have been on life support a time or two.  It could have been our marriage, our finances, our children, our health, our job, our academic achievements, our home, or our anything!  All of us have been down so low in something that we were certain death was inevitable, but in that moment, somewhere deep down on the inside we had just enough faith to whisper, “I’ve got faith and I believe my life is going to get better”!  This is my conviction this year, not just for me, but for everyone who is connected to me, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and even my haters!  We’ve got faith and life is going to get better for all of us!

This chapter of my grandmother’s life story has reminded me that God truly has the final say!  Many of us (including me) get a bit too confident, and think that things happen in this life because of what we’ve done or who we are, but it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, God does what He wants, when He wants, and there’s nothing we can do about it!  So, I’m gonna keep on visiting my grandmother and enjoying the time I get to share with her until God says it’s time for her to come home and rest with Him eternally because nothing in this life happens until God Says So!

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” -James 4: 13-15

Sometimes I Feel Like Crying :-(

I woke up this morning and just felt like crying.  Nothing in particular prompted this feeling…I think I just get this way when life feels confusing and overwhelming, and that’s how my life feels right now.  I have lots of feelings swirling around in my mind – disappointment, excitement, nervousness, happiness, worry, thankfulness, doubt, joy, fear, gratitude, pain – lots of feelings and I think it’s more than I can manage to control at this moment.  For a long time, I’ve felt lots of internal pressure about my success, or lack thereof, in life.  For me personally, success has taken on a very flawed definition of having a well-paying job in a great career area, being financially stable, being a homeowner, being married, and having children. And though flawed, it’s based on a simple premise…my desire has always been to be more successful than my parents, and so because in my eyes my parents have mastered all of these things over the years, at a minimum, I need to achieve these things in order to be successful.  Unfortunately, because I haven’t achieved all of these things yet, there are days when I feel very unaccomplished and very unsuccessful.

There are some that have and would argue that I shouldn’t feel this way or that I put ridiculous amounts of pressure on myself, but I think we all have to be authentic and true to ourselves, and despite how others feel, this is my own “flawed” definition of success.  Each of us has our own set of goals and dreams for our lives and they’re birthed out of our personal worlds – our families, our social environments, our physical environments, our friends, our experiences, our mentors, our role models, and the list goes on.  Some of us want to model lives after our parents or other family members, while some of us strongly disliked what we witnessed in the lives of these individuals and want to do the exact opposite.  Some of us hold onto money because we’ve been dirt poor and possessing money is our definition of success.  Others view driving the latest and greatest car as success because in a previous life everything required walking and/or riding public transportation.  Some have even viewed graduating from high school as success because no one else in their family had done it.  While none of these define success for me, all of these definitions of success are grounded in something meaningful, just as my own definition, the challenge with my definition of success though is that it often causes me to feel like a failure.  Do I think great things have happened in my life…absolutely!  I’ve had wonderful experiences and opportunities, I’ve faced some tough challenges and survived, yet, more often than not, my definition of success causes me to view myself in a negative light, rather than propel me into a happy place.  As a result, I have some days like today where I don’t really desire to be around lots of people and I just feel like crying.

But, I won’t cry for long…in about 15 minutes, I’ll pick my head up and go out to face the world.  One thing I’ve learned very well over the years is to wear the mask that grins and smiles…sometimes that mask makes life so much easier.

Until next time…