At the start of 2017, I picked a word I wanted to keep close, to embed into my life.
That word was LIVE.
I wanted to live, in all that it means.
As an intransitive verb, “live” means–among other things–to be alive, to have a life rich in experience. As a transitive verb, “live” means–among other things–to experience firsthand; to exhibit vigor, gusto, or enthusiasm; to act out, practice, such as to live out one’s fantasy (“live,” Merriam Webster).
And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve ever lived in my life. I woke up each day, did what I needed to do, went to bed, and repeated that day all my life.
There was always some fear or doubt or worry or anxiety about failure and succeeding, and they always helped to ensure that I made do, did just enough to get by.
Let me tell, doing that is hell on earth. You can hardly ever be genuinely happy and content making do because you’re only barely breathing, existing… not LIVING.
So, for 2017, I wanted to LIVE and LIVE LOUD, and I had every intention of doing that, but guess what?
Life happened. Medical issues and the pain that derives from them, mental health issues, the stress of wanting more but having fear overshadow the wanting, and then…
I lost my job.
Let go through a perfunctory two-sentence memo left in my box the day before a school break.
It totally dismantled me in every bad way one can be dismantled, but you know what it also did?
It allowed me to take the first real breath of my life. I felt weight shift and fall from my shoulders. I felt the tightness in my chest loosen. I felt the ongoing headaches evaporate. The small tick I had on the right side of my face slowly receded.
Creativity, literally, flooded my mind five seconds after reading that memo.
Yes, I cried. Yes, I raged. Yes, I was angry and wished all kinds of ill will, but I was reborn.
I began thinking of writing projects, of putting into motion all the things I had wanted to do but hadn’t because of time and because of myself.
And when I took a moment to settle my mind from the news, I realized something else.
I wasn’t surprised. I knew.
Knew this was a God Thang.
And vividly, my mind recalled short conversations, thoughts, images I’d experienced the weeks leading up to “the memo,” and I smiled as I thought about that very morning of “the memo.”
I was walking into the building when I stuffed my hand into my pocket to get my office key. There was a rock in my pocket. When I pulled it out, I noticed it was a rock I bought from a hospital gift shop not too long ago. On one side, there were feet. On the other side were the words: It was then that I carried you.
I smiled, so hard, feeling like a girl getting an “I love you” from her soul mate. I squeezed that rock tightly and said, “Aww, Daddy, thank you. I need to be carried right now.”
A few hours later: “the memo.”
I don’t believe in coincidences. I know, as sure as I know that I am writing this, that everything that happened this year thus far is for a reason: a godly reason.
God knew my tender heart, and he knew I needed to be reassured of his life before being let go: thus, the rock. He knew I would never leave my job because it was comfortable. He knew I would never do all the things I dreamed of doing, that he called me to do because it was comfortable simply existing. He knew that I needed to be shaken. I needed to be flipped upside down so that everything in my life was shook loose from me.
And when that happened, I could breathe. I felt light. I had ideas. I had hopes. I had dreams. I even had the gumption to move forward in this newness.
This is not to say it’s been easy.
It hasn’t. Worry, doubt, fear, anxiety, finances, what ifs have all plagued me and kept me paralyzed in many ways, but even through these things, I have taken steps, small steps toward where I know God wants me to be.
For the first time in my life, there is truly no net beneath me, and I am working on faith and actions to be my saving grace.
I am LIVING.
I may not have started 2017 with the word LIVE deep in my heart, but now, LIVE “is” my heart, and I’m determined to push through the rest of 2017 victoriously.
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Dr. Theresa Charlene