Confessions of a Woman Struggling to “even”

Sips tea… Can’t even!! Tries coffee… Nope, can’t even!! Brings out the wine… Nah, nah… Indulges in dog petting, baby admiring, meditation… hmmmmm, No… STILL CAN’T EVEN… The urban dictionary defines “I can’t even” as:

“The complete… onset of the cessation of brain activity, brought under the presence of acute stress, which fully affects the person only a short time after it strikes them. Said person, under the duress of the symptoms, demonstrates their affliction by alerting to others that they can’t even, in reference to their inability to deal with the symptoms, or their inability to perform simple actions which have been made impossible by their afflictions.”

Yep, I quoted urban dictionary because why not. Life is a struggle! A joyful, entertaining and satisfying journey but a struggle none the less. Sometimes the struggle overwhelms you, sometimes you don’t realize there’s a struggle and, countless times, you are such a boss at managing the struggle that others don’t realize that it exists in the first place. Have you ever looked at someone and thought “wow, she’s got her life under control” only to find out later that they’re a hot mess. Isn’t it funny that, when you “can’t even” (let’s see how many times I can use “can’t even” in one blogpost), everyone else seems to have things in check? This blog post is for everyone who feels like they are struggling… Homie, you are not alone! I gots you!!

I can’t even ADULT

I said it. “Adulting” is hard! The act of making life choices is one that is delicate and deserves a “handle with care” note on it. Sometimes it requires us to create (or cut) relationships that we once thought were life giving. It requires us to think through the steps, to process, to create spreadsheets and graphs of the pros and cons of all the potential routes. I am quickly realizing that the process gets complex really quick! I know I often get to a place where I pretend those decisions are nonexistent. If you’ve ever piled up mail you know what I mean.

It starts slow: you put one envelop on the table and tell yourself it will be opened later. Next thing you know, there’s a pile of envelops and you are too lazy to open them all. I often do the same with tasks, responsibilities and decisions. I have been doing that a lot lately, actually, and I probably need to open up (and sort) the different “mail” in my life. Piling things up usually seems like a good idea at the onset until you realize it isn’t. My IB teachers used to call it getting to the “bottleneck” or something like that. If you’re on that same pile-up route, maybe you should stop reading and take care of ish, yes? Yes!

I can’t even CHRISTIAN

Raise your hand if you are a perfect Christian (or Moslem, or Babist, or traditionalist or spiritualist)… Basically, raise your hand if you are perfect in exercising your faith (or lack thereof)!! Oh, you liar!! I see you!! Guys, faith is so complicated. I mean, it is and it is not – which in itself makes the whole dynamic that much MORE complicated!! So, you see, there’s no winning.

I have been a Christian for most of my life at this point and I’m still not sure how to do it “right”. I see people doing it oh so well and feel like I am not even trying. I watch my friends successfully fast during Ramadan and think “Nosi, you need to do better”. I listen to people defend their spirituality, defend atheism, stand on the street corners and tell me why scientology is the way to go and I’m out here questioning God (and his plans for my life) over and over again.

I sin, oh boy do I sin! Sometimes my sins are small, petty even, and I defend myself and cook up justifications for why that’s “not too bad”. Sometimes they are huge and I hope that I can bury it all and pretend nothing happened. Sometimes a lady has to channel the inner Joseph and flee which, let’s be honest, is easier said than done. I use sin here as my personal focus but sin may translate to different aspects of failure: the times we act contrary to what is deemed morally right; when we break the law intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally). There’s also those times we act in a way that’s contrary to the ethical and moral standards that we set for ourselves. Yeah, you get me now don’t you? There’s that one time that I had a bar of chocolate after I’d told myself I was on a diet, sin against ‘self’ right there!

I can’t even with RELATIONSHIPS

Woah, now this is a legit struggle. Why is loving so hard? I’m not just talking about intimate relationships here, I’m talking about any and every form of “SHIP”. I have a great friend circle, my family is amazing and I have some pretty good mentors but, man, keeping up with “SHIPS” can be hard. Creation and managing ties gets complicated and sometimes I lack patience. I let friends go and return to relationships I should have killed a long time ago.

In different situations, we may pursue relationships with others from a selfish perspective. We seek fulfillment, joy that we believe we can only find from others. We don’t want to be alone, we want to be loved, we want to FEEL love and in order to do this we rope people along. We forget that “SHIPS” are a two-way stream and seek to take and take without giving back. Why are we like this?

My mother taught me what  I consider to be a fundamental goal of any “SHIP” I may pursue. This goal: growth. Now let me break it down for you. Hahaha! Mama taught me that, whatever connection I create with another individual, I should be asking myself how that persons life will be better because I am in it. It is the idea that, whether a relationship lasts forever or 2 days, that person needs to look at the time they spent with me and feel like they became a better person because of it. At the point where they experience no change or, at the worst, a digression in growth then there is a problem.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Ok, so there are a lot of areas that I think “I can’t even” in but these three are some main ones. The beauty of it all, however, is that I am not alone. I have conversations with people in my life and realize that our struggles are oh so similar. If you are like me and often feel like your struggles are not experienced by anyone else but you, you’ve got it all wrong. We are here, we are many and we understand. We understand that sometimes decision making is hard; that loving and living can get complicated; that faith needs a lot of work and shortcoming should be met with love.

I believe in freedom albeit I find myself believing it for others more than myself. The existence of freedom means that we always have a right to choose and that, while we can wallow in our struggle to “can”, we have the freedom to work on the areas that we struggle in. I believe that freedom allows us to learn where we need to and continuously do better in areas where we struggle.

I believe in grace for others and for myself. I know that perfection is overrated and therefore refuse to conform to the expectation of a perfect me. Sorry not sorry!! It is often easier to offer grace to others and hold it back from ourselves. I listened to a podcast the other day and someone spoke on how she tries to reason (and have conversations) with herself like she was talking to someone else. While that is a little weird, hehehe, I love the concept because it, somewhat, makes you a tad bit nicer to yourself.

I am constantly learning how to exercise freedom in my life and have grace for myself! Every day gives an opportunity to do this better than yesterday. I advocate for grace and freedom to “self” and believe that success comes in allowing the days of struggling to be building blocks rather than opportunities to stumble.

So, this Monday, how’s about you cut yourself some slack, give yourself some grace and exercise your freedom. While you’re at it, I’ll be out here trying to do the same thing!

(P.S. I used “Can’t even” 11 times if you weren’t counting)

Perfect Mess

Today I made my first ever mug cake!! If you don’t know what a mug cake is, it’s pretty much the best thing ever…Cake, in a mug…what!!! So I was all excited as I mixed stuff together and thought to myself, “this is going on Snapchat when I’m done…OR Instagram…OR both?” The world has to see the awesomeness of my mug creation.

Well, it did’t get on either at the end because…it didn’t look the way I wanted it to. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted good…scratch that, it tasted great (seriously though, when has coffee not tasted amazing? Yes, i did have to start with a coffee flavored mug cake because you know me and my coffee!!haha). However, it just wasn’t appealing to the eye so it was not worth social media.

Then I stood there, thinking to myself how funny it is that we are so willing to share with the world when things are what we want them to be, when we are in control. It is so easy to post the achievements, the successes, the perfect make-up job, that outfit that you KNOW looks good on you (hello “ootd”, things “on fleek”). It becomes so easy to put on that face, that everything is awesome face for the likes.

I do it too, a lot!! I am reminded of a phrase that it common in Swaziland, loosely translating to the idea that one should sweep family dirt under the mat or the backyard, outside of the neighbors view. It’s an ‘honor’ thing, a pride thing even, to hide the mess and everything that is wrong behind the smiles and whatever else masks the bad.

For me this mug cake realization became an appreciation of the Mr who knows it all and still loves me – and everyone for that matter- unconditionally. Isn’t it so cool that our father in heaven will see the messed up mugcakes and still think we are the best at what we do? That he will see the tears, the bad hair days that never get posted, those times when we mess up in debate rounds, fail a test, fail at being loving or caring, the times when we cry so much our faces look like rivers of mascara flowing from our eyes to our neck. Think about it, those moments and situations that we would rather not share, the parts of ourselves that we would rather not share. He looks at those like our life is a constant Snapchat story depicting the good and the bad. Like his Instagram feed is constantly loading with images and short videos of every part of our lives. And, as he looks, he replays them over and over again, he likes and comments on how perfect everything is, how perfect we are, because he made us perfect.

I find myself lucky to remember today, and be reminded even by the smallest of things daily, how much I am loved and cared for. How much I am known and accepted by someone as grand as our Heavenly father. It’s these reminders that remind me that I AM loves me the way that I am and he loves you the way that you are too. He is always liking and favoriting (if that wasn’t a word before it is now) every moment of your life because that’s just the kind of guy He is

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” – Ephesians 2:4-5

#Lessonatthemovies

So I thought of calling this post “Expectations- where’s the fun in that?” then I thought nah…I mean, hashtags are waaaaaaay cooler and the “expectations” title would have been too long anyways.And who likes long, right?

I am learning, daily, that there is so much to learn from each and every moment that I get to live, that each experience, action and even random small occurrences are opportunities to grow. That being said, how many times have you watched Mockingjay yet? I’m at 2 – and counting – and let me say, I’m en route to learning all the words the actors speak.hahaha

I got to watch the Mockingjay for the second time a few weeks back- if you are unaware, the Mockingjay is a movie in the Hunger Games series. While it was still fun, the fact that I had seen it already meant that I knew what was going on. I knew what scene would come next, when to close my eyes, and when to prepare for a laughter or a tear. More the laughter than the tear though, the tears were all gone by the time I got done watching it the first time. Knowing the plot also meant that there were some scenes that I was looking forward to, which meant that in some parts I was bored because I knew already there wasn’t much “drama” in those parts. On the flip side, I may or may not have started singing the song two seconds before Katniss did… You are very welcome movie theater people, you can hate me now…

In those moments, the Holy Spirit laughed at me hard, in the nice way that only the Holy Spirit can. I truly felt like he was like, hey, that’s how your life would be if you had answers to everything or even if God showed you the whole plan from the very beginning. I felt like a couple of things were highlighted for me…

1. Sometimes I want to know what will happen.

This comes in many forms: Relationships, friendships, school-focused decisions, the future – where I will live, will I have kids, those kind of things. I always feel like I need to know exactly what it all looks like before I take a leap. Just like in watching Mockinjay a second time, it downed to me that if I was given the opportunity to know every nitty-gritty detail of my life story then there will be parts that I just won’t embrace as much because I know exactly what they will look like and I am not excited about that. Like, where is the fun in that? I realized that there is so much to be enjoyed from jumping off the cliff and letting the wind take you where you are supposed to go. I realized that, being the person that I am, it wouldn’t be fun to go through the motions knowing exactly what it all entails. It is fun to discover things as you move along, to learn and unlearn things, to walk a certain direction and then figure down the road its better to turn left than to keep going straight on. I have realized and now, I am in the process of embracing that notion.

2. It is important to say yes

One of my friends usually says “don’t over think”. For him, it’s more about going for it, without letting your mind over analyze every situation. Two claps for him, he has the idea right there. In looking at the second play, it is very easy to refuse to say yes to parts of the story. You already have an idea of it, you know what you like and what you don’t like. There are parts to it that you realized you didn’t like the first time and so are not willing to give it a second chance. Imagine living your life like that. Imagine God being like, fine I’ll play out your life for you and then you will get to live it after that. There will be things that you will refuse to entertain because you know already what that would look like, you would miss out on opportunities, and failures, that would grow you and mature you because “they were boring and weren’t worth your while”. That would kill the faith and, more than anything, would limit the number of yeses your give – it’s hard not knowing anyways, why make it harder? So for me, it is appreciating that not knowing allows me to say yes to the adventure, to say yes to pursuing a friendship that has uncertainties and that may die off down the line. It’s taking every moment fresh and allowing everything to be new and living a life that is unpredictable. Now that sounds like fun to me!!

3. Say no to fear!!

In the Mockingjay, Beetee makes a very powerful statement. He says, “Fear is the most difficult emotion to overcome- we’re hardwired to remember fear.”…Imagine watching the movie of your life before you actually live it and then getting so scared that you do not want to relive those moments ever…Or even, imagine living through your life RIGHT NOW and being so scared of what your decisions will entail and what the results will bring that you don’t get to live it to the fullest!! Fear is real, but fear need to be broken…I am deciding to say no to fear in my life and to make decisions, acknowledging that they may not be successful but also knowing that I will get to enjoy the adventure more if I let go. I am DECIDING to live in he moment and allow everything to happen organically, with Jesus in charge of course, and allowing myself to negate fear and embrace opportunity.huuuzaaaah!!!

All this was a reminder to me that, sometimes I feel like I want to know exactly how things will turn out, I want a reason not to be afraid, to keep moving forward. I want something to hold on to. But really, the knowledge that the Lord is on my side should be good enough for me. In fact, IT IS good enough for me, and that’s that!!

“And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” – 1 John 4:16,18 [AMP]