Accidentally taking the juice container from the refrigerator and pouring it into your coffee is a mistake. Adding baking powder to a recipe that calls for baking soda is a mistake. The option between paper and plastic are choices. When you choose paper, you've made a decision. Being with someone who does not value you enough to remain faithful is a choice, but staying in that dead-end relationship has now become the decision. Know the difference.
"Your life is not a game of multiple choice. Don't have people out here playing rock, paper, scissors with your emotions."
A couple of months back, I came across a video clip of an interview with Tyler Perry. Most of us know him as the infamous character that we hate to love, known as Madea. The interviewer asked Tyler, "What would you say is your biggest mistake in life?" To which he answered, "I've never made a mistake!" I'm there with eyes and ears peeled all the way back, thinking, "Okay then, Mr. Arrogant on steroids, please explain!" He quickly supported his response by doubling-down and reiterating his initial response by saying, "I know folks will think I am arrogant, but I've never made a mistake." For a minute, I was giving him some major side-eye, thinking, sir, you must be crazy-until I heard his explanation. As he explained his answer, that thing struck a chord so deep in me, it forced me into an immediate, what black churches call, praise-break!
He simply backed his answer with the popular scripture turn cliche, that all things have worked together for his good (Romans 8:28). While many of us see our mishaps as mistakes; this man chooses to view his, as the pieces of his life cohesively coming together. Whether we like him or not, we get to witness one of the few black men to own the rites to all he produces and the first fully black-owned studio sitting on 360 acres of land, a private jet, and an island in The Bahamas. Shoot, I live there, and they make it near impossible for me to own a 60 x 100 lot. And anything on the beach must be a photo on my annual dream board. Go figure! Not that having things is the sum total of one's richness, still I concluded there was something worth exploring in his words. While success does not look the same for everyone, I believe having principles is essential.
Meet me at the Crossroads
Some of my life's 'mistakes' caused me to make snap decisions. In particular, a failed relationship in 2007 forced me to sell everything I owned, moved to another country, and pursue a degree. Although the primary reason wasn't amidst the best of circumstances, I still can emphatically tell you that that experience was by far one of my most rewarding I've had to date. It was that experience that taught me to take leaps of faith that knew no bounds. I was doubtful at first, but I learned to trust in Jesus to levels I had only heard about. You know the one us Pentecostal folks listened to in testimony service. If I learned nothing else, this move was where I fully experienced just how miraculously the Lord provides.
What happened in my life as a result of one bad decision after another is nothing short of an adventure and not always of the story-worthy kind. Needless to say, as I dwelled in this foreign land, trying to navigate my way through, I had a mind-blowing encounter. I needed to take a ferry from Victoria Island to Vancouver for a job interview. I literally only had enough money (which my sister had sent me that morning) to get there, and I had no clue how I would get back. I knew nobody in Vancouver, but all I knew is that I needed to get there. As the ferry docked on Vancouver, I was trying to make my way downtown to the job agency. Initially, I thought it was within walking distance of the dock, but no, after asking around-I learned, I needed to take the Skytrain. Oh-Em-Gee! "Jesus, you gon' need to take the whole car, 'cause I don't have enough money!" Needless to say, I still proceeded to make my way toward the train. As I got closer, I saw a lady struggling with two pieces of luggage. At first, I passed her by, just as everyone else did. Only I felt nudging deep in my gut that compelled me to turn around and help her. While assisting her, I honestly forgot all about my own immediate need of being short a mere $2 to take a Skytrain the rest of the way. At that moment, my focus shifted as I assisted that lady up two flights of stairs with her 'weighty luggage.' We exchanged pleasantries and went our separate ways.
I promise you, though, in the most audible voice one can imagine, I heard, "Ask her for the $2." All my Bahamian pride kicked in, and I said, "Hell no, devil-get away!" Being dressed in all my regalia, how that gonna look, me begging? Says pride, every time. Kicking and screaming inside, I turned back to ask this perfect stranger, "Excuse me ma'am, do you mind assisting me with a toonie (a Canadian $2 coin) for the Skytrain, please?" She was ever so elated and gave that to me as if it was a $1000 reward. I said, "Thank you" and made it all but 3 steps away, when I felt the need to turn and say 'thank you,' once more. I kid you not, she and all the luggage we both struggled with, was gone. The train was nowhere in sight, how did she just vanish into thin air in less than 20-seconds? I thought I was going crazy, and my only conclusion was that I had just entertained an angel unaware.
There's a blessing in the storm
Fortunately, I made it to the interview right on time. After the lengthy process was over, the interviewer who I can only describe as the sweetest lady ever, remarked how elated she was to have met me and thought I had such a pleasant attitude. With that, she opened her desk drawer and handed me an envelope and said, "Go see the city on us!" I opened the envelope and there laid a crisp $100 bill. All my Pentecostal roots-was dying to break out in a shout. Instantly, my eyes welled up with tears, and she gave me the most comforting hug, as only a discerning mother could. I said all that to say this, sometimes we think our decisions are foolish (though most times they really are) and that we are navigating through life blindly-but I promise you there is a higher power navigating the way.
I learned that God can make the most beautiful ending of what we deem a mess. For me, hitting the reset button on my life meant trusting God, where my natural eyes could not see Him. After being broken and frustrated at the beginning of that journey, I left that country more together, focused, and enriched than I had been perhaps in my entire life. Starting over isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it's just a matter of jumping and then praying for wings. Twelve years later, that one experience prepared me for this season of life. Trusting God to do the impossible.
We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. --Charles R. Swindoll
For the most part, I still retreat to my small corner, every time life throws me a curveball. All I know to do is when my car (life) needs an overhaul, the only person I want messing around in my hood is the Manufacturer. Now I see, that while some incidents could have been avoided, some were absolutely necessary to nudge (I mean shove) me to my next step. God knows I wouldn't move my feet otherwise. Each part of your life is like a piece to a puzzle, each one is necessary to see the whole picture.
Had my biological mother not died, I would not have been adopted and placed in the house of the Bishop. Had I not been in the home of the Bishop, I would not have had my foundation in the church-to later really know how necessary Jesus is. Had I not had those bad relationships, I would not have had content for my books. Had I not learned some lessons from those relationships, there would be no Chronicles of a Church Girl Blog. Had 2007 not happen, I would not have gotten off the rock, my 21 x 7 island (aka the comfort zone). Had I not gotten off the 'rock,' my faith would not have been stretched. Had my faith not been stretched, when I got sick, I would have given up hope and died (literally). Had I not had that will to live, I would not have met unicorn-bae. Had I not met unicorn-bae, there would be no book publication, had there been no book publication I would not have been discovered and gotten my book deal and end up on the New York Times Best Seller list (speaking what is not as though it IS). Had I not gotten my book deal, I would be stuck in some dead-end job being shady with Ceaser, probably married to some average Joe, living a mundane life.
I promise you, on the surface, it looks like all your wrong decisions are a mess (and let me tell you might be right), but each block is being stacked together to form the masterpiece that is you. Don't look at the wrong choice as a mistake but a lesson that taught you all you needed to know for the next test. I have to tell you, the test isn't always and only for your benefit, sometimes its for you to help some else who would not have ordinarily survived the magnitude of your ordeal. God is not late, He's not lost, He hasn't forgotten, and He knows exactly what you need when you need it. All He requires is that you believe with your mustard seed faith in tow.