Lately, I feel like God has been taking me through a period of introspection, and I’ve had so many thoughts running through my mind. It’s been a time of searching, finding peace, learning from various experiences throughout my life, and seeking God to be able to hear His voice so He can be my guidance going forward. As much as I talk about God being my guide, it is so hard to take my hands off of the wheel and truly give things over to Jesus. It’s also hard to not define myself by past mistakes and really see the person who I am in Christ. However, God has been pulling me and telling me to let it go and to focus on Him and where He has me right now because it is perfectly aligned with His will.
In this period, I’ve learned a few lessons that I’m going to share with you in a 2-part blog post. I’m sharing with you because I hope that you can take these lessons and apply them to your life. When you learn these things, there is so much you can release that is burdening you. There is freedom in being able to walk in the purpose and the calling that God has for you.
Lesson 1: I had to stop thinking about what happened to me and to start to think about what will happen through me
Recently, I was having dinner with a friend of mine after a conference we attended and she asked me how the conference was for me. I started to talk about how the messages I heard were aligned with what God was trying to tell me, but sometimes it is hard to believe it or know that I heard His message correctly. I told her that after the conference I really went into deep reflection and that is when I knew God was telling to me to stop thinking about what happened to me and to start to think about what will happen through me.
One of the things that I struggled with was accepting help and to not feel guilty about needing a support system. I felt like I had to do everything on my own. I felt this way because when I became a single mom, I felt abandoned. I started to feel like I had to do everything by myself and for myself because I couldn’t count on anyone. I trusted Jesus because in order to get through I had to. I didn’t know what to do other than to turn to Jesus and He got me through. However, although God showed up mightily in my life, I still struggled to turn from my own knowledge and my own strength to rest in my faith. I struggled with worry and exhaustion because I tried to do so much on my own. I knew the scriptures that said, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). I knew that I was supposed to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. However, I came to Jesus, I handed Him my burdens, and then I got uncomfortable because I wasn’t in “control” so I picked them back up again. We would never put our household trash out on trash day, decide we still wanted it, and go to the tree lawn or the dumpster to pick it up. Similarly, we would never put our household trash out on trash day and then sit on the tree lawn or next to the dumpster because we need to watch over it. However, every day we do that with God. We hand God our baggage and keep our hands on it or we go back and get it. That leaves us depleted and not fully able to walk in the blessings and abundance of God.
The problem with the way I was thinking is that I turned hard. I let past situations harden me. I started to think about how if (fill in the blank) happened then I need to withdraw. I couldn’t trust, and that led to me not fully trusting God. I kept thinking about how I’ve been disappointed, how I’ve been let down, where I’ve fallen short, and where I’ve made mistakes. I started to define myself according to my own standards of perfection and how I treat people and not based on the standards of God. I wasn’t thinking about how according to 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 that I am a new creation in Christ. I have been forgiven and in place of the old me, a new me appears. I knew there was a new me, but I couldn’t fully see her, and because of that I stayed trapped in my mind. I had to realize that I am a new creation in Christ and what happened to me in the past is allowing me to be a walking testimonial of God’s goodness and to help transform the lives of other single moms. That’s what I mean when I say that I had to stop thinking about what happened to me and to start to think about what will happen through me. When I show up and share my story, other single moms will find hope in Jesus Christ and know that their lives and their children’s lives are not defined by the statistics that you see about single mothers. Jesus Christ is the author of their lives. This means that I have to find peace with who I am and even the mistakes and recognize that my journey is my journey.
We hand God our baggage and keep our hands on it or we go back and get it. That leaves us depleted and not fully able to walk in the blessings and abundance of God.
Lesson 2: Keep my crown on
A crown is a symbol of royalty. Kings and queens wear crowns. Because of who I am in Christ, I too am royalty. God created Adam and Eve and when God created Eve, He created someone special “a helper who is just right for him” (Genesis 2:18 NLT). A woman is “just right” and a prize. However, I know that sometimes I can be really self-critical and I forget that I am a prize. I’m not just talking about in relationships. I’m talking about in life.
This is the crown that God has given me, and I need to stop comparing myself to other people’s journey. I need to walk in the authority that I have through Christ.
I recently heard a spoken word artist tell the ladies to keep their heads up because when they tip their head their crown falls. This was so powerful to me, because sometimes I hold my head down and I walk in uncertainty, and I look for external validation when the only validation that I need is from Jesus. He made me in His image and His likeness. He knew me when I was in my mother’s womb and I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:13-14). I have to know who I am in Christ. Not only am I “fearfully and wonderfully made”, the verse later goes on to say that that the God’s work is “wonderful” and that “my soul knows it very well.” This is the crown that God has given me, and I need to stop comparing myself to other people’s journey. I need to walk in the authority that I have through Christ.
Lesson 3: I am under construction and that is okay
One thing that I really struggle with is chasing perfection. Logically I know that the only perfect person was Jesus, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to be perfect. I hold myself to impossible standards, and I would get upset when I didn’t achieve them and it’s exhausting. I realized that I am under construction and that’s okay. Think of it this way. When buildings are under construction, they aren’t finished. Their beams are exposed, the drywall isn’t up, and the hardwood floors aren’t installed yet. When we drive past these buildings we watch the progress to completion, but we don’t compare the unfinished building to finished buildings. The same is true with us. We are under construction and we are unfinished so why are we comparing ourselves to other people who are further along in their journey? Why do we compare ourselves to who we may be 5 years from now? It doesn’t make sense and it’s self-defeating and demoralizing.
God is doing a good work in us and we are not fully constructed yet and that is okay. There will be times when we fall short, however, we must keep getting back up. Our flaws make us human and God uses flawed people to do His good work (see Abraham, Jacob, David, and Paul). One day I was so tired that I wanted to cry. The fatigue was actually starting to get painful, however, I had to keep going. I sat down by myself and wanted to let the tears fall. However, I stopped short and gave myself a pep talk. I told myself to “woman up” and get over it and just keep going. I looked at crying as a form of weakness, being a bad mom, or a lack of gratitude for what God had given me. Instead of allowing myself to feel weak in that moment, I pushed it back because it didn’t meet my standards of perfection. Notice I said “my standards.” I forgot that I’m allowed to feel weak because in that weakness God is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The only thing that I need to focus on is being better than I was the day before and to constantly grow my relationship with God.
There will be times when we fall short, however, we must keep getting back up. Our flaws make us human and God uses flawed people to do His good work (see Abraham, Jacob, David, and Paul).
Lesson 4: Take the limits off of God
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9
God tells us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, but yet we try to keep hold of the wheel, we try to tell God what we want, and we create and follow our own plans without seeking God first. We also limit God by trying to put him in a box but Jesus tells us that we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). If we can do ALL things then why is it so hard to see how amazing we are and the generational impact that we can have if we put him first and obey him? I’m preaching to myself because sometimes it is so hard for me to accept a compliment. It makes me uncomfortable. It is so hard to say “thank you” and smile. I’m getting much better at just saying “thank you” when someone compliments me instead of following up with a comment that diminishes their compliment. For example, I was wearing a beautiful dress one weekend and many people walked up to me to compliment the dress. I had to fight so hard to just say thank you instead of following up with “thanks, I got it for free” or “thanks. I haven’t worn a dress like this in a while so I’m kind of uncomfortable in it because I’m not used to dressing up anymore”. Trust me. There were many other things that popped into my mind when they were complimenting me that downplayed my greatness. I battle with that just as I battle with God when He gives me a big vision and I fight Him and negotiate with Him to make it smaller. It’s hard for me to even fathom that God would want to do something amazing through me because I can only see me, at this moment, with all my flaws. I’m limiting God and limiting the potential and the impact that God wants to have in me. One thing that I’m learning is to take the limits off of God. When I look back at the times when I didn’t limit God and when I didn’t say, “I’m trusting God, but what if” things were way better. I had so much peace and, through Christ, I was able to witness so many breakthroughs and miracles.
One thing that I noticed is that I trusted God more and I believed in God’s limitless ability when I had to – when my back was against the wall or something clearly couldn’t be done in my own strength. However, in those moments when I asked God but had doubt, I lacked peace because I was focused too much on my Duke and University of Michigan education and the highlights reflected on my resume. When I’m focusing on me, I’m squeezing God out. If I’m supposed to have 100% faith in God, but yet I’m reserving 15% faith in my own abilities then I’m really only trusting God for 85%. That’s not 100%. That’s when I find myself staying up later and later trying to do more and more. That’s when the worry creeps in. That’s where the lack of peace starts to come. That’s when I start to look to other people to validate my ideas and to tell me how awesome I am. However, true peace can only be found when going deeper in a relationship with Jesus. True knowledge of oneself can only be found in Jesus Christ, and when I start to focus on who God is and to believe in His power, and when I take the limits off of God, that’s when I find peace and when I really soar.
This week we discussed the first 4 lessons that I learned during my period of reflection. I encourage you to take these lessons and then meditate on them to see where you are excelling in these areas and where you need to dig deeper and apply them. I wish I could describe to you how freeing it was once I learned them. If you are still working on them, then know that it is okay and that this is a process. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, these are new lessons to me and that over the past couple of months God has been pushing me and encouraging me to dig deeper into my relationship with Him. My hope is that these lessons will help you to develop a deeper relationship with God. Check out Part 2 where I will share Lessons 5 – 7 of what I learned during this time of introspection.
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Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!