Dear Lover, I can’t love you, right now. [A Lesson in Singleness]

 

It seemed most appropriate to allow Valentine’s Day to soak in the rest of its glory before posting a reflective piece containing a hard learned lesson I acquired during my second ‘go-round’ of singleness. I am for all things ‘lovey dovey’ – the cornier the better, most times. I offer that information to settle any prejudice you may have about a single person taking the time to think, speak, or write about love, relationships, and the like.

So let’s start with the Spark Notes’ version of my back story.

I moved back to Virginia, and was duped into dating who would become my exhusband at fifteen years old. (I’m totally kidding. I wasn’t really duped. Surface pleasantries eventually lead to mutual interest, and the exchanging of numbers and instant messenger accounts – shout out to AOL instant messenger). We wandered from being old friends to an item, and dated on and off for five years. After getting back together following the last of the off periods, we compulsively made the decision to get married. (We were so childish.)

The demise of any union cannot be summed up into one pivotal moment or factor. There are usually multiple occurrences that line up to create the perfect storm that separates husbands from wives from their vows before God. All in all, life took a series of unexpected turns, and after four years, eleven months two weeks, and one day of marriage, we were officially divorced.

They say, after you are divorced, you have to wait at least a year to check single on information forms, in lieu of divorced.

I don’t know who they is, exactly; but, I do know I spent one full year making a valiant attempt to recover – all while checking divorced on forms since that’s what I was told. I figured at one year, I would be well enough to at least try dating, again. So, I did. I met an amazing guy, and for the first time in a while, I felt I could get married, again. That was a scary feeling. Before that point, anytime I thought about my future, I could only see my ex and the children we named as teenagers, but would never know.

Disclaimer: dating is not for the faint of heart. I don’t remember all of the madness the first time I was single. Maybe because I was a child? I don’t know; but, someone could have warned me. The point is, I tried to date. Some comment or situation exposed a sore spot; and, I decided it best that I ceased dating that particular guy. As fate would have it, another great guy came along – same story different face. I found myself feeling like I needed to prove I was worthy of love, commitment, and attention. I found myself feeling like I needed to prove that I was more good than damaged. This took a major toll on me. I rolled through multiple situationships trying to figure out why all guys were the same. I felt God acknowledge the question I posed to the air by replying directly to me.

“It’s not them, it’s you.”

I beg your pardon? It’s me? How? I’m a good girl. Any man would be blessed to have me! Then I thought about what that man would really have, if he had me. He would have obtained an insecure woman, more interested in not being alone than loving, again. I feared becoming a woman who grew old with no children, or grandchildren, or husband. Looking back I could tell the enemy was playing on my fear to manipulate me into mutating a good man into my husband. The enemy wanted to trap me in a relationship that didn’t glorify God. He distracted me by making sure the man was good. (How many know it can be good and STILL miss GOD?)

After taking a second to consider my role in the demise of each relationship, I realized with clarity, that it really was me. As an admirer of love and relationships – especially how marriage parallels to what God wants to show the world about how He loves us, I knew I could not passively date, anymore. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to participate in a relationship, that may have led to marriage, which is no doubt a reflection of God’s love.

I don’t want to give away a knock off version of love. I can’t allow myself to half way love anyone. I won’t do it. The man God has for me deserves better than that. I am his favor. My love will remind him that God cares for him. As a single woman who has transitioned from a marriage that ended in divorce, my aim has been to allow God to complete the work in me. Beyond being healed, I am to be whole – lacking nothing.

Singleness serves self-awareness, self-improvement, and self-esteem. The gift of singleness will, no doubt, produce the best version of me God will have to offer. We can’t afford to skip through this intentional time without a thought or care for its purpose. Wholeness happens in singleness. My future deserves me whole. It’s important to recognize the role you play in the cycles you seem to keep going through, and make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible – even if it pains you.

Dear Lover, I can’t love you, right now.

When it’s time, I will allow God’s love to flow through me as unfiltered as possible. You will know God’s love through mine. Promise.

 

With love until next time,

Jeraye B

 

 

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Lost in MySelf(ies) – Understanding Pain

This week’s blog is an excerpt from a chapter of a book I wrote a few years ago, and have yet to release. I don’t occupy the space of this specific pain, anymore. I’ve grieved and gained.

Social media has a way of reminding you, and everyone that can view pasts posts, of who you were before you became the you that you would become. Each past post, especially once grouped together, can provide clarity to the issues that flowed from the heart. From the abundance of the heart, the fingers typeth, sort of thing. It does not take much inspecting or investigating to uncover the truth behind each post, or picture, or meme. The pain is evident in retrospect.  There it was, hiding in plain sight.

Pain is not an evil monster that seeks to rob us of an enriched life. Pain, instead, is an alert system that teaches us how to navigate in the future. Pain teaches us to be careful, next time. I do not avoid ovens that I perceive to be hot because my parents told me it would burn me. I did my best to obey my parents; but, the one time I accidentally got too close to a burning eye on the stove, it burned me in a way I would never forget. The pain of that moment forced me to be mindful and careful around the stove. It taught me to respect the potential of the oven. Eventually, my arm healed without even a trace of having been burned. Still, I never played around a stove again.

Pain has been misunderstood. It can be easy to become careless by making decisions without much thought. In some cases, we compromise the integrity of who we are, who we are to become, and who we represent. Pain does not hurt for the sake of hurting us. Pain serves us. It is important to realize that pain teaches us. Can you trace your pain back to a lesson that shaped your perspective?

In addition to teaching me about myself, pain taught me to see others differently. I knew what certain scars looked like. I knew what the heart looked like when it was limping. I knew because I experienced it. I was able to step off of the “high horse” or posting eloquent statuses that sometimes looked down on people experiencing phases in life I may have never had to walk through (yet….because I’ve found that you just NEVER know what life has for you). There was a time that I could not believe someone would post the details of their relationship on a public forum. While I was not necessarily guilty of that, I could see past the damning words into a soul that was really bruised. I began to help where I could. I administered First Aid to certain scars and could point and accompany individuals to the direction of The Healer. Pain showed me what it felt like to experience a heart under attack. The earlier I saw the signs, the quicker I could pray for and encourage others.

In the past, I wished I dealt with pain privately. I used to feel embarrassed that I was so vulnerable in public spaces. I felt like the athlete that had some major injury take place in front of a stadium full of people being stabilized on half court. Eventually I would be whisked away for x-rays, ultrasounds, a diagnosis, and a plan. The doctors, physical therapists, team trainers, and all involved in my health would lend their expertise in an effort to save my life, and ensure that I am able to eventually return to the court with all my abilities having been sharpened. It does not change the embarrassment of what happens in that moment when injury occurs. Sure, I could bounce back; but, everyone saw what happened. Once I matured, I realized the more people that bore witness to the event, would offer true life perspectives that corroborated the definitive progress I made. They could testify on my behalf.

Are we allowed to be honest about what pains us?

My belief is simple. It is important to tell my truth, free of what any person or anything has done to me. Once I stripped away blame I placed on others, I could own the decisions I made. There was power found in owning my decisions, even though those decisions put me face to face with pain. The stove did not chase me. My decisions and proximity set the events in motion that lead me to get burned. It forced me to pay attention to my habits and character.

My prayer has been that God would allow me to have sweet waters, even when life attempted to make them bitter. Misunderstanding the purpose behind pain is an easy way to incriminate your experiences instead of embracing them to propel you, and a whole segment of people forward. Pain may be hiding in plain sight in your life.

Every injury is required to hurt for a specified time frame. Each time frame varies. Oh, but after a little while…….(Some of you know where I’m going with that one – queue the organ.)

If you are still in pain, can you point to exactly where it hurts? Or are you too distracted about what people say about your injury (how long you are supposed to be in pain, your required recovery time, how others have coped in your same position, etc) to focus on the actual source? In addition, can you as easily discuss the lesson you learned? What did your pain teach you?  How have you used it to become better? What decisions have you made because of your pain? I know it has altered you; but, has it improved you?

You’re better. If you don’t see that today, I trust you’ll see it someday.

 

With love until next time,

Jeraye B

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually

 

What if eventually never comes?

What if all I’ve ever hoped for never makes its way to me?

What if I can only live my dreams while I sleep?

What if I never become who I was supposed to be?

How will I ever know?

Eventually comes eventually.

If what I hope for doesn’t make its way to me, I will make my way to it.

I will rest long enough to live my dream while I am awake.

I will become who I am supposed to be.

I will know because I will consistently be who I am.

I am a gift, a promise, and an answer.

I will be, eventually.

I am.

 

With love until next time,

Jeraye B.

Once I realized time waits for no one, I stopped waiting for time.

I was at work daydreaming. Unlike most times, I was peeking into my past instead of my future. For some reason, my mind catapulted me to a time when the only thing in the world that mattered was whether or not my parents would buy me the sidewalk chalk I had been eyeing for the past few days.

You see, I had plans for that chalk – plans to give it a home on the sidewalk. There was a hopscotch tournament I had to be prepared for. Even though it only featured my sister, my mother, and myself, I had to make sure I got all the lines and numbers right. In addition, there was a section of the driveway reserved for four square. Again, this chalk was pretty serious business. It was the only thing on my mind.

Before I knew it, I was startled back into my reality. The normal hustle and bustle of my day started to flood my consciousness and before I knew it, I was old, again – with ALL of the cares in the world.

I am old.

Now, that’s not something you hear someone in their twenties describe themselves as; yet, here we are. I am concerned about my current paychecks, and my retirement. I’m concerned about the fact that I don’t have any children, as I am in a full sprint toward my thirties. I am concerned that I may really be single for the rest of my life. I am concerned about where I live, and what I drive. I am concerned about what’s happening with the government; and, I just want to find some way to be a part of it – to do my part to make my community better.

I used “concerned” way more than I should have in that last paragraph. To be honest, I am flat-out worried. I want to be married, again. I want to be a mommy. I don’t want to worry about each paycheck – because I’m living by each one. I want to be valued, and committed to community; and, I don’t want to feel like I’m always running as fast as I can against a clock that never has to stop or slow down. I’m tired of running. I’m tired of racing.

Then the message is clear: Just wait.

Wait? On what? A moment? An opportunity? A stage? A check?

Chile, I’m old. I don’t have time to wait.

I don’t perceive that I have enough time to accomplish all I want to do. I’m afraid that I will spend my whole life chasing, and die not having captured anything. I don’t have time to wait. I have to make things happen. I have to hustle, and stretch myself thin, and ignite anxiety by feeding pride instead of humility.

I don’t have time to wait when I have made promises to myself that were outside of God’s will for my life. I can’t wait when all my friends are married, and I’m the only one still single. I don’t have time to wait since all of my siblings have children, and I am the only one without a single child. I don’t have time to wait.

You may not have time to WASTE; but, you most certainly have time to WAIT.

How is it that I spent so much time looking at what everyone else has, that I have failed to make the best use of my time? Success is not one size fits all – it does not look the same on everyone. I have spent time fighting with a clock that I should have been dancing with.

You see, time is going to continue moving. It is not the enemy. Time is a vehicle for maturity and wisdom. Our best moments, our hearts desires occur in time and on time. Time is all I have.

I can’t quantify how much time I have. I can only become devoted to making the most of each moment I am blessed with. I don’t have to wait for any next big moment. I can enjoy the one I have right now – doing what I love to do (writing), in one of my favorite places in the world (my bed). I promise not to waste my time waiting on what I hope may happen. I will always spend my time being – just like when I was a little girl without a true care in the world.

Let’s use our time better. Let’s really live this time

 

 

With love until next time,

Jeraye B.

 

 

So, I Decided To Quit My Job

To whom it may concern:

If I may take a moment to offer genuine gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity I have been provided by this agency to sharpen my skill set, gain insight, and earn the respect of my colleagues through my tireless efforts to ensure I am the best I can possibly be. This place of employment has afforded me the circumstance to earn a living as I scrambled to get back on my feet after a surprising divorce. It provided me with the means to purchase my first and subsequent car; and, for the most part, make those payments on time. I have grown as a woman, leader, and visionary while I have been here.

Since I aim to live a life of gratitude, I could most certainly write reflective sentiments on all of the blessings of working this 9-5, which is more accurately a 7:30-6, with surgeon’s detail and a servant’s humility. I will not, however, belabor the intent of this letter or draw your attention away from what could be more pressing matters.

The objective of this letter is to inform you of my resignation which is effective immediately. As I am approaching five years of partnership, I am sure you may be wondering, “why,” or “why now?”  It is this letter’s purpose to also provide you with that information. I look forward to reviewing my observations and insight in the exit interview I am hopeful to attend.

This job robs me of my creativity. It doesn’t rob me overtly. It drains every piece of energy I have until my passions only get what’s left of me instead of the best of me. I once believed I could juggle it all; but, with growing demands and responsibilities here I was unable to sustain any healthy pattern of pursuing my passions. My dreams deserve better than that.

This job robs me of my focus. Bit by bit, I seemed to be ensnared in the goings on of the office – so much so, that I neglected the goings on of my purpose. My full focus has been on ensuring that I am able to provide my best and most productive hours of focus to you instead of to my dream. My future deserves better than that.

This job robs me of my value. I do not get paid enough. This one may not be fair, because my price far exceeds rubies, anyway. You, nor  any other business or agency, would be able to pay me what I am truly worth. You could, however, increase the value of my services. I am a dedicated subject matter expert and one of the top performers. My compensation has never fairly reflected on the service I offer. My legacy deserves better than that.

With all of that being said, I am still humbled by the opportunity to have been here approaching five years. I have learned lessons that will carry me through the rest of my life. I’ll name a few of them:

  1. My creativity should always be cared for. It is a gift, and a sign from God that I was made in His image.
  2. My focus makes things happen. When I have the opportunity to focus on anything, it will improve. I have to focus on what can improve the life of myself, and my family.
  3. My value is too expensive for a price tag. The salary I accept will be a reflection of what I believe I am worthy to be paid, not what you deem my position can get by on making.

This job has never held me captive. It was always me. I held myself back for fear of failing. Today, however, with this letter of resignation, I am freeing myself from the proposed obligation to attempt to make ends meet by serving in a position, agency, business, or company that no longer serves me. It is with many thanks I leave this place more aware. Cherish those who leave their families to serve in your establishment.

Respectfully,

Jeraye B

 

This title is a bit misleading. I have not quit my job. (You can release the breath you’ve been holding throughout this post).  If I did, however, this is the notice I would present.

I pray you are inspired to evaluate, and make the adjustments you need to. It may not be quitting your 9-5, but instead using the money you earn to fund your passion, or using your time to create concepts. Do more of that, this year. Whatever your adjustment is, the world is waiting on your brilliance. 

With love until next time,

Jeraye

Not Quite Healed

“Girl, well how long has it been?”

Don’t you just love that question? It’s probably my absolute favorite. (I hope you are picking up on the serious sarcasm I am laying down here, by the way.) This is a question that haunts the parts of me that did not catch the memo that I am healed. You see this question, and others like it, are the reminder that I am communicating through hurt or offense as a filter. When I hear this question, I have to back track through the conversation to figure out where I gave it away. How could they know I was still salty, or hurting, or annoyed, or living in a perpetual state of unforgiveness which was rapidly turning the corner into bitterness? Maybe it was the captions on my Instagram and Facebook posts. Now that I think about it, it could have been the subtle (to me) yet overt (to everyone else) comments around subjects that even loosely mimicked the loss I incurred. Who knows, really?

Then there is another question, more so, deeper concern that challenged the level of introspection I thought I had attained.

“How could I not have known I was still in pain? Why didn’t I know I wasn’t done healing?”

I spend a great deal of time in front of people. Whether from a stage or behind my desk, I consistently assure and ensure the well-being of others. I am trained to observe behaviors that help to tell stories hidden beneath what an individual wants me to see. I can spot the uninspired, unengaged, unmotivated, and those unwilling to tell the truth from a mile away. Yet, I could not recognize that there were parts of me that were still undone.

I was terrified at the thought that I was not the woman I believed and portrayed myself to be. It’s difficult believing you are whole and ready to move into the next portion of your life, after loss or disappointment, only to discover that you are not mentally or emotionally where you thought you should have been. This is even more startling after doing the work to get better. This work includes things like speaking with professionals, praying, reading my faith book and other relevant publications, creating moments for myself to think – but not too long, about how I am impacted and how to minimize damage.

The issue is that I was hiding from myself. I wanted to believe that I was the best version of myself that I could be, even if it wasn’t the truth. I couldn’t be disappointed by loss, and still suck at being my best. Then I gave myself permission to be and to become at the same time. I said five words that changed my life, forever.

“I’m not over it, yet.”

I’m NOT over it, yet. It still gives me so much relief. With this statement, this admission of imperfection, I was free to be exactly who I was – no strings attached. I was simultaneously released to reach forward. There was no impossible standard I had to live in. I could actively reach toward better without feeling guilty or unworthy about where I was reaching from. I felt safe in those words because they acknowledged the totality of my strength and frailty. This admission conceded that I could be in two places at once, and it was okay.

There is a word in this sentence that may go unacknowledged. I want to take a second to shed light on it.

Yet – adverb – up until the present or a specified time, by now or then. (Google Dictionary)

The definition is telling in that although we may not be over “it” at the present time, there is a SPECIFIED time in which we will be. Keep holding on. The time is specific; and, it’s coming.

We are privileged to wear many hats. Some of you may be wives, mothers, professionals, domestic engineers, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and this list can clearly stretch to the ends of the earth. Sometimes we cease to BE in fear of what those that benefit from who we are may say or believe about us. I offer, instead, the notion that if we cease to BE, we can never BECOME.

That’s what this life is about: BEING and BECOMING. STANDING and REACHING. Give yourself the permission to BE healed and to BECOME whole.

It’s coming, soon.

With love until next time,

Jeraye