With three full days left in 2017, I sit in reflection mode as I recall everything that has happened to me this year…
I started my year with a completed vision board in hand as I joined my family in midnight service at their church. It was in that moment that I decided that that was how I wanted to spend my year- with Christ. Yeah, things were stressful at work and my home life was contentious because my ex and I were still roommates…but I had hope for the year.
Despite having just gotten out of a relationship a few months earlier, I honestly thought that I was ready to be in another relationship. I always [mistakenly] thought relationships were for me when they “randomly” occurred. So when this blast from my past came back spitting all the right things, I fell for the bait- hook, line, and sinker- and rushed into a relationship with someone that I really did not know. I was even spiteful about it, “subtly” rubbing it in my ex’s/roommate’s face just to make him jealous. The month flew by and I was still sure that I was on the Lord’s track.
Second month of a new year and it was the beginning of the end of life as I knew it. The first 23 days of the month were great but day 24 caused a shift like no other.
I drove to VA beach to be with the new/old boyfriend for the weekend. The visit seemed innocent enough but I had a sinking feeling that it was far outside of God’s will for me. That Sunday as I was driving back home to NoVa, I was rear-ended by two cars after crooning my heart out to the song “Yes” by the Shekinah Glory Ministry. Yep, I had just finished telling the Lord YES and then I was hit. Oh, OK, Lord.
Yeah, that trip was a really bad idea.
A few days after my accident, the boyfriend got released from his position in the police academy due to a “misunderstanding.” I sat by and watched as he suffered with the loss of his job and he watched as I suffered from the pain of the accident. Then one day I harmlessly asked him, “what if my accident and your job situation were not as coincidental as we thought they were?” I think my comment caught him off guard and he was upset. Maybe he knew it, too. Maybe he felt it, too. I don’t know, but he was upset. Needless to say that relationship ended before it even started.
March was filled with lots of physical pain. In fact, I was in pain pretty much every day of the month. Even when I let people think I was physically feeling better, I really was not- I was just in pain. But through my pain, I had to prepare for the next phase of my year- moving back home with my mom.
…this month was an emotional blur. I was not mentally ready to give up my independence and move back home, but God made it so that this was the only option. I had been applying to jobs for months and nothing panned out. I even had three interviews scheduled in March that I had to cancel due to the physical pain that I was feeling. Moving back home was my only option because money was beyond tight since I did not work for three weeks due to my accident. I was drowning in bills and moving home was the lifesaver that I needed.
In the midst of all of this, God still wanted me to share my testimony with His children. On Resurrection Sunday (April 16th), He would not let me sleep until I shared my story about surviving rape. He kept me up all night and then as soon as I had posted the video, God gave me a sleep more peaceful than anything I had ever experienced up until that point.
On January 3rd, the Lord placed God Happened To ME on my heart as the title of the autobiography that He wanted me to write. The book ended up turning into a ministry that eventually led me here. Every day I was writing and the writing was my therapy. By month’s end, I was still broke, but I had peace with my life. Peace outweighed anything else in my life.
So it was time to move back home. With the little money that I had gotten from taking a random survey, I paid for movers to move all of my stuff into storage and my bestie came to help my move my clothes to my mother’s house. My goal was to stay home for 3-4 months to get my life together, but as God would have it…
….I was fired two days into the month. Oddly enough, that was probably the first good thing that had happened to me in the year. I was actually happy to be released from a job that I felt was slowing killing me and further exacerbating my back pain. God had told me on December 27, 2016 that it was time for me to leave that job but I stayed because I was comfortable. I mean, yes, I was applying for jobs every minute of every day, but God had wanted me to step out on a leap of faith and quit the job. So when I didn’t listen, He did the job Himself. (I love that about Him!)
As the month passed on, I realized that God needed some time with me, time that I had never given Him. Allowing me to lose my job caused me to have an abundance of time to spend with God- so that’s what I did. I sought Him all the more. I began working more heavily on my writing and I allowed God to move in my life. I promised God that I would give Him my all and that I wanted Him to use me for work in His kingdom.
In May I also spoke publicly about having survived rape at the I Am Project’s first Survivor’s Conference. It felt good to be open and honest about my past. Sharing my truth set me free in many ways. (Read more about it here). I honestly thought 2017 would be smooth sailing from there- I mean, what more could happen this year???
This month started off well. I was blessed to see two of my nieces graduate from Kindergarten at the beginning of the month. Family had always been a big part of my life, but for 2017, I asked the Lord to remove all drama from my life. At the time, I did not realize that by asking that, God would remove certain family members from my life, too. But as I soon realized, toxic is toxic. Whether it’s family or friends, toxic relationships can kill.
As I was preparing to end the month, one of my sisters came to visit for an entire month. She and I had been experiencing friction and I knew that dwelling in close quarters would only make matters worse, but I pressed on. As I had suspected, we had several battles within her first couple days and then a big war in the beginning of July. (I cannot recap those incidents here, but I encourage you to read the blogs that I wrote about her trip: The price of peace…, A prayer against evil…, and Fat people don’t get raped…)
Although the month started off rough with the big war between me and my sister, it ended well with the publication of my devotional book (Order your copy here). This devotional was designed to help me heal…and in turn help others heal. Personally, I feel it is most effective when used as a weekly reading in a bible study setting. Authenticity and openness are needed when reading this devotional. You have to be ready to heal from the pains of your past. It’s short, sweet, and to the point…but it’s powerful.
This month was just long. (smile) By this month I was really going under financially. I had officially shed a tear about my financial trouble and I was just about to ask my mother for help when God stepped in and made a way. The relief that He sent was able to keep me afloat just a bit longer and for that, I was eternally grateful.
August also brought forth the development of my devotional’s bible study course at a church that I had partnered with for the Women’s Conference in May. This was the month when I could finally see God’s hand in my life. In the previous months I knew He was moving, but I could not see what He was doing. August began to open my eyes…and many doors in my life.
By far, this is the BEST month of any year! Yes, I am a September baby and Autumn is my favorite season of the year. But I digress.
In September, I got the opportunity to take my first trip to Texas to visit my family in Houston. I should add that this is the side of my family that I did not grow up knowing and we were just reunited eight years ago via Facebook. This was my time to not only be with them, but always witness one of my dear line sisters get married to the love of her life. Being around this half of my family gave me peace about the state of relationships with my siblings and my nieces. Though distance separates, God will reunite.
My Houston trip was incomplete because one of my cousins was in living in Jersey. So that following weekend after returning from Houston, I drove to Jersey to visit her. It was in this trip that I truly realized just how intentional God was. I saw His hand in August but in September I was beginning to know His ways.
By this month I was fully in bible study class and loving every moment. God had shown me that this is what He wanted me to do- He wanted me to teach His word. I have NEVER felt comfortable talking in front of people but God had given me inexpiable courage, wisdom, and strength to be able to lead this class. In fact, the courage and ability to speak that He gave me from teaching this class, led me to apply to be a sub teacher in my county. Again, something that I NEVER thought I would ever do….but that’s where God was leading me.
No long, drawn out interviews or back and forth communication. I applied and I was hired. Unlike the almost 2,000 jobs that I had applied to since October 2015, I was hired almost instantly. That’s how I knew it was God. Teaching in this capacity is exactly where He wanted me to be.
(Read my favorite blog from October: The Consequences of Rape…)
This month flew by! One minute it was the beginning of the month, then I was planning for a Thanksgiving meal with the students, then we were planning for Christmas decorations. In fact, I am sure that there were only three days in this month!
Growing up in a Jamaican household, we did not really celebrate Thanksgiving but this year I was just looking forward to the day. I knew my family would not be doing anything major, but I literally just had a joy and spiritual fullness about me and I just felt thankful. November helped me to realize truths about myself and face fears. I learned that I really could be content with where God had me and what He was doing in my life. I had true joy and peace, as given to me by my heavenly Father.
(November blog: My year is just beginning…)
This month God kinda showed off a bit. He placed so many ministries and avenues in my heart and He just began preparing me for the greater that He has planned for me and I have just been basking in the revelations. I am attending a discipleship course and reading this amazing Priscilla Shirer devotional book and both are helping me get closer to God. I realized that no matter how much I think I know about God, there is always more to learn. God has made me a completely new creature in Him and all of the changes of the year are radiating within me.
As I look forward to 2018, I am leaving many people and things behind in 2017. In 2018, I am learning the power of NO and the responsibility of YES. I know that I have spent far too many years doing things out of a sense of obligation- things that normally exhausted me spiritually and emotionally- well, no more! I literally spent all of 2016 consumed with the issues and burdens of my life and the lives of others. I was too broken and too damaged. I vowed that I could not live like that anymore. Likewise, I vow that I can no longer live to please anyone but God. Daily I ask God to fill me, completely consume me, and use me in His kingdom.
To worship Him I live.
To honor Him I live.
To serve Him I live.
So, farewell 2017. You have been a year of growth, development, and education and I will cherish your lessons forever.
I excitedly run into the open arms of 2018, knowing that God will continue the good work that He has already started in me.
Happy New Year to you all! May God continue to pour into your lives and fill you with His abundant peace, joy, grace, and mercy.
Join me in 2018 as I continue on this healing journey with the Lord!