Before I dive into unpacking this phrase with you guys, I am inclined to remind you that you are about to get the “Unplugged Joycy” – direct, unfiltered and to the point. For those that know me in person, this would consist of a calm, eyes-locked-in, admittedly intense demeanor as I deliver this phrase, “Do not compare yourself to the devil to make yourself look good!” I’m getting fired up even writing this!
What do I mean? I find that we can easily short change ourselves by comparing ourselves to mediocrity in order to boost our self-image. We don’t ever hear the phrase, “Aim low!” So why would we entertain a thought that allows us to compare ourselves with mediocrity to make ourselves feel good. Be honest! Assess yourself! Identify your strengths and your weaknesses. Set your goals, make a plan, give yourself grace when you mess up, but KEEP MOVING! Be the best you that you can be and you will be surprised at what you can achieve. You know your gifts, you know your talents, you know what you are naturally drawn to — develop those and see where that leads. Do not fear the unknown. Today was unknown until you got here and you survived it!
Often times when we are fearful of stepping into the places where opportunity has been created. We create excuses to rationalize and justify our stagnancy. BUT please know you are only holding yourself back from the best of wherever and whatever God has for you…i.e…if God has called you to the mountaintop, do not make your tent by the hillside and call it cozy.
I am speaking from experience on this and likely why I am so passionate to motivate you all. If this describes you, know that I have been where you are and I challenge you to join me on the other side. You can be fearful as long as you move through your fear and press on – your best life is yet to come. Go seize it! Start by taking one courageous step at a time :).
In having a conversation with a friend recently this phrase found its way out of my mouth: A copy cannot produce the original. This is true, we cannot fashion ourselves off of any other person and produce anything greater than the original. What we need to do is improve on who we are as individuals, looking to the only person we should imitate —Christ. Even in that He created us unique — with unique gifts and purposes, ultimately for His purposes.
My pastor David Hughes said it succinctly this weekend, “You are an innovation not an imitation.” I don’t think it’s wishful thinking to think that if we all spent more time dialing in on our identity, celebrating our uniqueness and less time playing the comparison game we would progress as a people. What are some of your gifts and talents? When did you first discover them and how? Although I always recognized a uniqueness in myself, my confidence to display and develop my gifts came through the support and encouragement of good friends and family. People that saw something in me and were not threatened by it, but instead celebrated and encouraged me and for that I am eternally grateful. Who are your cheerleaders in life? More importantly, who are you a cheerleader and encourager for? If you find that vicious jealousy bug popping up when you witness the success of others, chances are that you are not upset at the success in their life, but disappointed in some area of your own. Yikes! Did that strike a chord?? Good! If you’re reading this, you are still living and breathing and that is great news! You have the basic criteria to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Start today, spend time journaling, dreaming, talking to people who know you well and step deeper into those areas you know you are gifted in and see where that leads. Your life is truly what you make it – live well.
I have the sweet pleasure of volunteering and being in a position of influence for teens. I do not take this position lightly. It is a blessing to be able to relax and kick back with these girls as a mentor, but please hear me in this – I learn from them too! And I’ll let you in on a little secret, sometimes they may drop a new word or phrase and I roll with it like I totally know what they’re talking about…only to slip away to my trusted friend google to maintain my cool points ;). The real truth is they know that I may always be a step behind the new stuff, but I will always be a step ahead with the old stuff. Speaking of, I’m about to blend an old thought with a new one – BLACK IS NOT A BAD WORD. Let’s unpack this statement for a minute. In the context of race, I think you all know what I am talking about. And let me set the stage for my perspective in this conversation before I completely unpack. I have traveled to various countries as well as all over the U.S.. I am currently living and have lived most of my adult life in South Florida. South Florida is home to a blend of cultures, nationalities and religions; and a point of entry for many immigrants still today. I bring up these details because it has been my experience that even in this environment, our kids are still hesitant to use the word, “black” (or African American) when describing a person. Yet, I have no problem using the words ‘white’,’ Latino’, ‘Asian’ and yes, even ‘black’….because black is NOT a bad word…unless somehow, somewhere our kids are still taught that it is. It was interesting to view the vast responses to Ferguson and the stories that followed. Those who were bold enough (*please read through my sarcasm*) to sit behind a keyboard and site their opinions online may not have been as bold in person – why? These situations will not change unless we are willing to take the stigma away from having open conversations instead of carrying on in private. We have come a LONG way as a society, but we certainly have a long way to go. I believe we may have become stagnant because we are afraid to ruffle the feathers of the nation or of our communities, but guess what — it’s happening anyway.
Our kids do interact with each other, and I would say for the most part do so well; BUT we cannot be ignorant to the fact that our longstanding opinions of each other have indeed infiltrated this millennial generation. I recall an opportunity recently that I used as a teachable moment. A young girl (teen) was excitedly telling me a story about a performer. In her excitement she forgot his name and began to describe him instead. I quickly knew who she was referring to, but I paused as I watched her hesitate and search for every other word to describe him but “black”. We have a great rapport, so I allowed it for a minute before I finally said, “He’s ‘black’, you can say it. If I were to describe you to someone else I would say ‘white’. There is nothing wrong with that.” A bright smile revealed her relief. She may have felt uncomfortable saying that word in front of me, but she didn’t need to be and I needed her to know that. I told her, “black is not a bad word.”
So I challenge you to begin interacting with others, not just on your commonalities but on your differences – this is the only way that we will truly learn from each other and put the mistakes of the past in the past.
One of the byproducts as a therapist is becoming a coach in someone else’s life. I take this role seriously, recognizing that I need to be an example in leading others. Let’s be honest, most people are not going to seek training from someone who has not mastered or understands what it takes to accomplish a goal. I personally learn best from those who have walked this life before me; those who have been where I’ve been and can teach from experience how to come out the other side. I do know enough that I do not need to learn every lesson experientially before I “get it”. Lord knows it is not every pain known to man that I desire to endure!
Today I am going to take a page from my book in how I became more productive in my life – not busy, but more productive. Let me ask you this question,”What are you doing if you’re not doing…?” I learned in my mid-twenties (I know most of you thought I was still there, you can continue to believe that if you must :)), anyway I learned in my mid to late twenties (now I am further aging myself), that I have the capacity to become very busy doing a whole lot of NOTHING – very busy. Meanwhile, life was passing me by and nothing of value was being accomplished…dare I say nothing that God had been calling me to do was being accomplished. And if we are honest with ourselves, we are really the only ones who know this truth. We can put on a great game and make pebbles look like pearls if we want to, but at the end of the day, we know that we will not be content until we take up the call to step into our purpose. In seeking to further myself, I learned to publish my goals – to take them out of my head and externalize them on paper, on vision boards, etc., outlining tangible stepping stones to achieve these. I had to become accountable to that question, “What am I doing, if I am not doing…the things that I was created to do?” The restructuring resulted in me feeling content, accomplishing more things – eternal things, legacy building things and ironically having more time to just be. I encourage you all to ask yourselves this question and I would love to hear from those who have figured out creative ways to organize yourselves and those who are ready to step up and take on the challenge of becoming the best you!
I heavily contemplated rethinking this decision the moment I walked outside …27degrees?!? I was visiting my sister up near the Cape in Massachusetts during winter, it wasn’t snowing but it was Christmastime and I was on vacation. The equation looked like this: extra sugar, extra snacks →extra exercise?? Well, I settled for at least some exercise. Being from South Florida, I either forgot how cold it was or was suddenly delusional, because the bright idea for a quick run seemed foolish the minute I stepped into that cold brisk air. I hesitated in the driveway as I considered returning to the warmth I had apparently grown accustomed to inside. A solid minute passed, which only made me feel cooler as I stood still in my thoughts as the chilly wind continued to threaten my outdoor plans. And then I pushed through – I told myself if I don’t try I definitely won’t do this. So I did. I tried. And off I went, and as I began to warm up and eventually settle into my pace the chill of the air became a comfort as the heat from my run came over me. What was once a deterrent in the same environment, under different circumstances, was now a resource. Trekking the elevated terrain of the neighborhood didn’t make for my “best” run, but it certainly made for one of my most memorable runs. I’m glad I pushed through. What are you going to PUSH THROUGH in 2015??”
I remember writing this verse on the board one day when I used to teach. I got halfway through when I gained a deeper understanding of what this passage was really saying. There is purpose in how the text is presented. “Do not be anxious for anything, but in every situation with prayer communicating and petition asking WITH THANKSGIVING being thankful for what He gives even before it’s given present your requests to God.”
This is where a deeper sense of trust is built – in being thankful IN ADVANCE for however He will respond because we trust He knows best.
“…And the peace of God which transcends all understanding it may not even make sense will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Go. Ask. Thank. And claim your peace. Simple formula right?? I dare you to try it the next time anxiety comes knocking for attention…
Jesus took the wheel.
So this happened this morning on the highway. I could talk about the damage but I’d rather tell you about the Covering.
After barely avoiding hitting a car that was entering the far left lane from a stop, another vehicle that was trying to avoid hitting me, lost control and clipped us from the front sending us spinning. With my son screaming in terror, I heard myself repeating over and over to him, “You’re okay, you’re okay, we’ll be okay.” Instinct set in as the car continued to spiral — my focus was on calming him down & gaining control of the car. As much as I was repeating those words oddly enough – very calmly – in those moments I knew I had no guarantee as we were in grave danger of hitting a guard rail very soon if I could not gain control. Suddenly our vehicle stopped spinning. We were okay – Jesus had taken the wheel.
Multiple local officers were on the scene immediately to offer help until the Florida Highway Patrol arrived. While trying to coordinate a tow truck, insurance info & a rental car, I received a text from my good friend telling me she had passed the scene, pulled over, was just yards in front of me and was waiting to give us a ride. I had the car towed to another friend who managed a body shop and was in a rental within a matter of a few hours of what could have been a very different ending.
Jesus had us covered.
I do not take it for granted that today our lives were spared. I can only defer to God’s sovereignty and I am in curious anticipation of what part of His plan tomorrow will bring.