Last year when Beyonce dropped Lemonade, I wrote about it. I talked about how her fearless vulnerability and openness should inspire us to speak about—however privately or publicly—the truths in our lives.
This year, the tune is a bit different. After her amazing Grammy performance that planted goosebumps on my skin, I’m coming from a different angle: the selfless act of reconciliation—and the overall selflessness of love.
Beyonce’s Lemonade—as we know by now—was an ode to the stages of a relationship, from heartbreak to make-up. She took us through the many emotions we may face in our relationships. The trouble. The struggles. The forgiveness. As we parade around claiming Beyonce and Jay-Z as "relationship goals", we, for a long time prior to the release of this album, have forgotten the importance of the latter. The reality that all of our relationships will require reconciliation and forgiveness. The unavoidable fact that our relationships will go through tests, but the true strength of our love is the ability to endure those tests. The ability to continue on—to reconcile—despite the implications or heartbreak of those tests. The ability to do so, not just for you, but for the well-being of your partner and the purpose of God. (Because here, I'm talking about a God-ordained love, not a lustful infatuation).
Love is selfless. That’s biblical. And the thing we must realize when we get in relationships, profess our love, and claim we're working toward something that'll last 'forever' is that it is beyond us. It is beyond the pain we feel in that moment, and the tears we may cry on our bathroom floors. It is beyond our desire for ease. It is beyond our desire to fulfill ourselves, but is made whole in our desire to see our partner happy and liberated.
The truth is, love isn't about us. We were created to love those around us, for no immediate advantage to ourselves (though I will say uninhibited love is freedom). Oppositely, we were created to love to provide an advantage to those of whom we love. To encourage and uplift them. To be a necessary light in their lives. To, in some way, serve them how they may not have otherwise been able to serve themselves. To honor and appreciate them. To submit to them (romantic love). To help make straight their paths, in the eyes of the Lord. To provide for them what we long for: partnership, care, and unconditional (judgement-free) companionship.
And while hoping that that is reciprocated—that the love we give them is matched equally—it is not, and should not be what we’re in this for. So when we talk about forgiveness and reconciliation, know that it may hurt you, and that pain may not be fair, but it is in fact what we're called to do.
Love cannot survive from our constant desire to take, but from our willingness to pour into it things that are beneficial to the people we love—whether they're beneficial to us or not. It's running to our partner's aid at 3:00 in the morning because they've barely been able to sleep. It's stepping outside of our comfort zone to find ways to make them most comfortable. It's doing things we never thought we would, and probably never wanted to, to see a smile plant on their face.
Love isn't to satisfy us but to satisfy our partner. So reconciliation, too, may not necessarily be for us. It may not be so we can feel release, but instead, so we could continue being the light we were purposed to be in their lives. So that we could continue providing them with the love God desires for them to have, whether they've yet been able to reciprocate it or not. Whether it's unfair or not. Whether we think they deserve it or not.
I’m a huge advocate for women leaving no good men, so by no means am I telling you to run back to John John or Pookie who’s emotionally abusive and spiritually destructive. What I am saying, however, is that to solidify the love you’ve so desperately longed for—a God-ordained love—you must put your feelings to the side and commit to reconciliation and forgiveness; because love is more than a feeling. You must think outside of your desire that love is meant to make you feel good and acknowledge that this love, this pending marriage, is deeper. You must humbly recognize that sometimes love means sacrifice and suffering—as God's love for us, meant the crucifixion of Christ.
The act of selfless love will hurt. Forgiving will hurt. Reconciliation will hurt; sometimes more than leaving. You may never understand it. You may never know why God is pressing you to continue to love him. You may never comprehend why he gets to still be the recipient of goodness while you're struggling to provide it. But know that the purpose your love serves in the life of someone else is greater than the pain you endure. Know that that transformation your life will experience because of that selflessness is worth the pain. And remember that in the midst of the mess your relationship has spiraled into, this moment—your obedience here—can be the difference between a God-ordained marriage, and a regular ole earthly one.
Beyonce, sung on that Grammy stage, pregnant, by a husband she previously revealed had cheated on her. That was strength. That was forgiveness. That was reconciliation. And I can be sure, that that was a transformative moment in both her and her husband's life.
Love is an act; and, it's a call from God. When God calls you to a partner, and requires you to stay with that partner despite your discomfort, He's calling you to grow deeper in love. He's preparing you for things you may not even realize you want yet. He's introducing you to the meaning of love that's been present since the creation of mankind, when God sent Himself down in a sin infested world to save the world because of His love for us (John 3:16). So while it may be hard...hard as hell...please trust this process of growth and transformation. Continue to allow the bright parts of your spirit to illuminate your partner's life. Continue to seek God to get you through the parts that are too hard for you emotionally, and don't give up. Your God-ordained blessing is right there, don't let it go (unless, of course, He tells you to).
P.S. I meant to hit 'publish' on this post shortly after the Grammy's, but life happened. Love me anyway.
P.S. I meant to hit 'publish' on this post shortly after the Grammy's, but life happened. Love me anyway.
Starting something new can be nerve-wracking. Whether it's a new job, a new business endeavor, a new relationship, or new hair—it has the potential to make or break that moment in your life. Regardless of what change you're currently enduring, and what new thing you're pursuing, these 5 tips will help you make it through the transition to 'new'.
1. Be patient with yourself. This is incredibly important as you learn new things. Whether it's a new work role or a new relationship, you must be patient with yourself during this process. Getting to know people, tasks, strategies, and emotions is hard work, and it doesn't happen overnight. Be patient—and kind—to yourself through it all.
2. Use your resources. While it may seem like you're going through the transition alone, know that there are people around you willing to help. During this new period, take the opportunity to reach out to people (and find resources) that could help you. Whether it's the person who previously had your job, a fellow business owner, or your boyfriend's best friend, use the people around you to learn and grow in this new area—whatever it may be. (Also, find useful resources to help guide you on your new journey. There are tons of blogs, e-books, workshops, and community courses to help you in a variety of ways. Use them.)
3. Take your time. This is a little different than being patient. This is about acknowledging the time it takes to form a new habit or create a new routine. You won't find the best route to your new job, immediately. You won't recognize the best business practice for you the first time. You won't know the best way to communicate with your partner in the first argument. These things take time, and when you acknowledge that, you allow yourself the space and freedom you need to form effective habits.
4. Be optimistic. I know it's frightening that right now you don't know what you're doing, but be optimistic that you soon will. Be hopeful for what's to come in this new place/season of your life. Shine light in the darkness of this newness (and the discomfort it may bring). And have faith that no matter how rocky it gets, it will all work together for a larger purpose.
5. Enjoy the process. There's a period in all things new that you're allowed to make mistakes. As much as you hate them, enjoy that time. Eff up. Have someone else fix it. Learn the lessons. Because in 6 months, you'll be looked at crazy for not knowing what you're doing. Enjoy this transition period, and get to know yourself through it.
I know I missed some. What are some other tips you learned during your season of newness?
The job requisition sat in my file cabinet for three weeks. I tucked it away deep enough to silence its screams; it was a perfect position for me, but I hadn't been here long, and to apply to an internal position a mere six months after starting this one would be absurd. So I printed it out, and talked myself out of it. Why'd I even bother printing it?
I blamed the 30-minute drive to work for the reason I didn't want to submit my application. It would be too much of a stretch from my current seven minute drive, so the job requisition stayed there. In the file. Tucked away behind my benefits election paperwork, and a condescending e-mail from a superior. I kept everything - including that req.
Then one day I pulled it out. Finally. It was a mix of being overwhelmed, underappreciated, and unhappy. I doctored up my resume and cover letter, and hit the apply button through the online portal. While I'd only been here for six months, something in me was screaming "take the chance." That same something told me to go for it. To apply. So I did. I hit the button and sent my resume, cover letter, and references on its way. I put the job requisition back in my file folder after placing a bold pink check mark in the upper right hand corner. "It is done," I said to myself, not recognizing the power of that declaration in that moment.
See, that job was in the very field I planned to ascend to, per the two year plan I drafted when I began here. It was exactly where I wanted be in higher education: Student Affairs. In my current role (may I remind you, 'my current role' is the one I interviewed for and received three days after being completely unemployed), I worked with alums. But the small role I had working with the 2017 graduating seniors was what really made me light up from day-to-day. It was the excitement that pulled me out of bed.
I knew, however, my work with the students in this role hadn't been significant enough to write off as experience; still, I tried my luck. I applied to the position about eight days before the two-month posting closed. Had I waited another week, I'd have no story to share. I was e-mailed a few days later for an interview, and a few days after that for a second one. Time wasn't on my side. The fact that I left my job prior to this one after a year and a half, and then this one after a half year, I didn't seem like the most stable candidate. But I was (probably) the most passionate. The most determined. The most honest about my intended career trajectory and why I decided to take this leap.
So I got it. A job in the field I didn't expect to get until 2018. The job that I let sit in my file cabinet for 3 weeks. The job that I talked myself out of, then into, then out of again. The job that I had previously eliminated my candidacy from. The job that I really wanted.
As I sit here on my last day of my current job, saying bye to the students here, while preparing for a transition to the next G&P school where I will meet new students, I can't help but to be grateful. One, for the amazing students I grew to know and love (despite my short time here), and two, for the reality that in my next role, my job will be to know and love more students. That my main role will be to provide support and guidance to over 300 graduate students. That my duty will be to ensure that these people are well provided for during their matriculation, and properly prepared for life after.
I talk a lot about being led by God and the great places that obedience can take you. But this, this was one of those "just go for it" moments; and that's one of the important things about obedience. Sometimes you just have to go for it. You have to make (and implement) decisions for yourself no matter how fearful you may be. You have to make moves no matter how much doubt corrodes your spirit. You have to do things despite your uncertainty. You have to go for what you want (as long as it aligns with your purpose) with poise and positivity, silencing the pessimism. You have to do more than just think about doing. You have to actually do. Despite your uncertainty and worry, you have to just...try. Sometimes you just have to leap without wondering where the hell you'll fall.
See, things don't always have to make sense for them to manifest. The time doesn't always have to be right, for you to receive supernatural blessings. Your situations don't have to be perfect for great things to happen. You don't have to be all together for God to provide the desires of your heart. You simply just have to go for it.
This has been a year of incomplete tasks, I thought to myself as I jotted down another new idea in my 2017 planner. Another damn idea. I already had a list of tasks I needed to complete for the 3 other works in progress I had piling up on my desk. And here's another. Something else to take up my time. Something else for me to beat myself up for not completing.
My God, if I could share with you all the incomplete projects that are currently awaiting my return. Workbooks, and events, and books—oh, there are so many books in progress. So many great ideas, not enough time. Or resources. Or life left in me. Or excuses to explain why I haven't finished at least one of them. Not a one.
This has been a year of incomplete tasks, I repeated in thought, getting frustrated with the ways I may have dropped the ball. Over the last two years I've been motivated by this newness. Inspired by growth. Invigorated by excitement. But this year. This year is different. Because this is the year dedicated to staying afloat. To honing in on my skills. This year is a test of consistency. Of maintaining what I've built while other areas of my life run amuck. Or fall apart. Whew, how things have fallen apart.
This has been a year of incomplete tasks, I yelled to myself in the quietest whisper, condemning myself for my inactivity. Blaming myself for conjuring up so many good ideas and completing not one of them. Getting mad at myself that my 2nd More Than Enough Spoken Word Showcase hasn't happened yet. Cussing myself out for not having completed this workbook's first draft. Fighting myself with the reality that my personal and spiritual development took precedence over all these ideas; all these damn ideas.
This has been a year of...
...But this year isn't over, myself replied—again, in thought. It's April. And if my calendar serves me right, I have a little over 7 months left. 7 months to finish the things I started. 7 months to place the final period on all of these works. 7 months to close the back cover of 2017. 7 months to really figure this stuff. 7 months to get it done. Get it off the ground. Get it up and running. 7 months to adapt to all that is changing around (and within) me, and to do this. Like, really do this.
Because this year isn't over, and the beginning will not be the end. How my year started won't be how it ends. Recognizing that is refreshing. Understanding that is encouraging. And perhaps that's the motivation I need to stop beating myself up and start checking things off this to-do list. To realize that this feeling of incompletion, though normal, is a bit premature.
Perhaps, that's the motivation you need too. Maybe it's what you need to hear after you checked back into your vision board and realized nothing you pasted there has come to fruition. It's quite possible that these are the words you need to read when you realized all the plans you had for this year weren't panning out as you had hoped. Perhaps this idea—that the year isn't over yet—that the year is just beginning—is what you need to soothe your spirit after realizing that everything you worked for in 2016 seemed to have fallen apart in these first 4 months. Or maybe, you're like me, simply beating yourself up for not having finished the many things you started this year, without appreciating all the things you have.
Regardless of where you may be in this moment, where you may be this year, know that there is still time for it all to change. Know that no matter how your year began, it won't end the same. Recognize that there is still lots more space for growth, change, and progression. And understand that there is still 7 more months to accomplish everything you wish to.