I grew up in a baptist church--a missionary baptist black church to be exact. Thanks to the fact that my grandfather was the pastor, I became a church musician around the age of four. On Sundays, more often than not, we sang the song What a Friend We Have in Jesus--a song that originally was penned as a poem by a preacher. The words were later set to the tune sung around the globe today. As a worship leader, one part that stands out to me reads:
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Joseph Scriven, the preacher behind these words, ironically perished during a personal period of discouragement, depression, and despair. After a series of tragic events, as the story goes, he was found to have drowned. To this date, no one can be certain if the drowning was by accident or by suicide. Either way, what we do know is that Rev. Joseph Scriven--a man in a position to give others spiritual leadership and guidance-- was in the midst of his own trials and troubles. And in spite of the words he shared to encourage others, he became discouraged.
Leadership can be tricky; in my journey, I oft hear the phrase, "Leadership is a lonely road." The truth, however, for me at least, is that leadership is not in the least bit lonely--there are lots of people who will show up on your journey along the way. The challenge, however, is that many just show up to make noise. Some show up to claim a front row seat just for the opportunity to watch you possibly fail. Others show up, and pretend to be helpful all the while waiting for you to come to them to ask the "right questions." All of this to keep pertinent and helpful information under lock and key as you embark on a hamster wheel of trying to figure things out on your own.
The interesting part about leadership is that many times, a leader's "humanness" is forgotten. In today's society, the leader--particularly the public servant--is expected to hold machine-like tendencies that allow neither mistake nor weariness. Rev. Scriven, for example, was a minister who faced the tragic death of a loved one more than once. Although we cannot be certain of the actions of those around him, we can assume that despite his religion, faith, and position, Scriven's discouragement was powerful force. While there was a presence of people around in him (as evidenced by the friend who gave testimony of having left Scriven in his room "not to sleep, but to watch and wait," prior to his demise), there was an absence of peace (the one that passes all understanding as cited in Biblical text in Phillipians 4:7) and there was personal pain.
In his now, widely-sung hymn, Rev. Scriven suggested taking "everything to God in prayer" to inherit peace. Some would argue that prayer, by definition, is just a verbal expression of hopes and desires. Others, however, rely on their James 2:14-26 recognition that of the sentiment that faith (arguably, through expression of prayer) without works is dead. For the leader, Scriven's suggestion of prayer paired with James' assertions of putting work with the prayers , for the faith-filled leader simply means that we must be open to sharing our struggles, challenges, and fear in safe spaces. For this to happen, we must diligently create that space--carefully leaning on God's guidance to determine who belongs there.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
So what does this mean for you?
Nope, I'm not going to wrap up this written piece with a pretty conclusion bow, because that, in my opinion, does nothing for the person who has recognized this message is specifically for them.
Write your own conclusion here. What "work" do you need to pair with your faith and prayers to make certain that you do not forfeit peace or bear needless pain? Who will you allow into your space as you unpack and work through the challenges, trials, and temptations?
Don't keep pouring from an empty cup. Take time to do what it takes to keep yours filled.
You've got this.
There's this process that I follow when I REALLY want something: I write it down, and post it on my bathroom mirror. This way, I see it everyday.
There was a job I wanted...I mean I REALLY wanted it. So I applied.
Ya'll know how the job search goes. You send in the resume, fill out the application and then wait to see if somebody calls you back.
This job, however, was different. Not only did I write down the affirmation that I was going to get the job, I printed out the job description and slid it under the mirror clip along.
A few weeks went by, and I got an interview. But despite the fact that I usually interview fairly well, I felt like I bombed it.
I tried to stay positive, but as the weeks went by without a response from the hiring manager, I started to have doubts to the tune of:
But then one day (a few days after my dramatic moment of trashing my affirmation), my phone rang. On the other end was the hiring manager of that same job--they asked me to come in for a second round interview in a week's time. I accepted the invitation, but still tried to contain my excitement. I didn't want to get my hopes up. Besides, I had begun to believe I was unqualified (imposter syndrome is real, ya'll).
Later on that same day, while washing my hands, I looked up in the space where the affirmation and job description had once been. I saw something out of the corner of my eye that caught my attention. I leaned in a bit closer, and immediately let out a scream. It was a tiny piece of paper--no bigger than the size of my fingernail--that had gotten stuck in the mirror clip when I became discouraged and ripped down the affirmation for the job!
Now before you start shouting, a cutting up with your Hammond B3 organ in the background, let me finish...
There will be times when you forget the faith you had. You may even throw in the towel and go about your merry way thinking all is lost, and you should just get used to settling for what you need versus what you want.
But when you TRULY believe something, and begin to speak it, something powerful happens. I believe God speaks. Some say the "universe" responds; others may call it an alignment of the stars. Nevertheless, all things begin to work together to the point that even when only a shred of your dream is left, that shred--that sliver, if you will--becomes powerful enough to move mountains.
Now go ahead and shout, ya'll...cause somebody knows they are still here because a sliver of faith and hope got them through.
Remember this as you move forward, and do [what appeared to be] the impossible.
"..."Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." ---Matthew 17:20
....and P.S....I got the job.
#ImposterSyndrome #PineappleSugar #Faith #Hope #MustardSeedFaith #TheBibleSays
As a mother, sometimes sacrifice looks like "gaps" on a resume; it may also look like a return to work after only a few weeks of postpartum healing.
At other times, it may look like a step off of the corporate ladder" and significant pay cut rationalized only by your desire to spend more time with family. There is also the chance that your sacrifice, mom, means taking the job with forty percent travel because it means more income, and better benefits for your tribe.
There may be moments when sacrifice equals falling asleep snuggled next to your young one when your plan was to finish the report due at noon the next day. The days when the spreadsheet and presentation must be finished by midnight (in the timezone that is one hour ahead of yours) may also come for you; the time that you actually have for long talks, and warm hugs may be few and far between.
Whatever sacrifices you are making now, dear mother friend, take heart.
Tears are par for the course. Don't try to stop them.
Your tired days and worn-out nights may seem endless. But take heart!
One day every experience will come rushing together as if everything was working in your favor the entire time.
The secret is being at peace enough to see those pieces fit together; if we allow frustration to guide our life's steps, then we run the risk of missing our ultimate purpose.
Never forget the plan, but don't let doubt settle in when things don't go according to it.
You've got this.
#NeverAlone #PineappleSugar #MothersDay #RealitiesOfMotherhood