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 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.
Lesson 2: 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. Therefore, 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.
Lesson 3: Be open to seeing God and hearing from God even if it doesn’t make sense
One of the things that I struggled with was obeying God when it didn’t make sense. For example, a few years ago I ended up in a network marketing presentation. I was so angry because I wanted to go home, I was hungry, and I didn’t want to be there. Throughout the presentation I was trying to figure out how to sneak out, because I wasn’t about to buy whatever these people were selling. However, in that moment and in my anger I heard God tell me that if I’m asking Him to bless me then I need to be open to how He does it. You see, for many months prior to that presentation I had been praying to God asking Him to allow me to leave my job at that time. I had been going through workplace bullying and I was looking for a way to get out of that job so I could get my peace back. Even that day of the presentation I was praying that same prayer. However, when I was in the venue to give me something different, I turned my nose up at it because of what it was. I had expected God to give me a better job, with more pay, more responsibilities, and greater opportunities for advancement. I didn’t think He would send me a network marketing business. Initially I didn’t want to join the business, because it wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did it anyway and it turns out that two years later I would be a pregnant, single mom and that income that I made allowed me to be able to choose to stay at home with my twins.
In order to take the limits off God, and allow God to do the amazing things He wants to do in our lives, we must also be open to seeing God and hearing from God even when it doesn’t make sense. We have our own views about what the blessing should look like and who is the proper person to deliver a message from God. I heard a message from Bishop T.D. Jakes and he reminded the listeners that the ravens fed Elijah and they weren’t believers. Sometimes we limit ourselves from hearing a message from God because of the package that it came in. With that being said, this is where discernment comes in because it helps you to understand if the message was from God. You should also evaluate if, when, and how you should implement that advice. This is critical to help you to avoid moving away from God’s will and His way.
Lesson 4: Watch the messages and energy around you
One of the things that they always say in church is to, “Guard your gates.” This means to guard you mind, what you see, and what you hear from everything that doesn’t align with the Word of God. In order to do this, you must start to evaluate the things in your life that disturb your peace or that lead to worry and anxiety. Those things are things that you either need to eliminate or limit your access to. For example, when I did my reflection, I knew that the news stressed me out. Therefore, I told myself that I could continue to watch the news and lose peace or I could stop and regain my peace but I couldn’t do both. Therefore, I deleted the news apps on my phone and went back to my policy of staying off of social media during major newsbreaks. I knew that when I focused on the news, I was forgetting how good God was and that was blocking my ability to hear from God. Therefore, if I wanted to hear God more, I needed to drastically cut back on the amount of news that I watched so I could protect my peace.
Breaking up from the news is just one example. I was at a conference and one of the speakers said to start deleting phone numbers so you can purge your phone from the people and energy that are pulling away from your connection to God, because these people will suck the energy out of you and start to crowd out the blessings that God has in store for you. Those people don’t need to be around you. Therefore, start to guard your gates and release yourself from the negative energy and also release yourself from the expectation that you just need to stick around out of a sense of obligation or that the other person may feel bad. We must guard our gates and guard the energy around us.
Lesson 5: Figure out what you want
This one had been tugging at me over the last few weeks. There have been a couple of people who asked me, “What do you want?” I would respond with what I wanted for my business, how I wanted to serve others, and what I wanted for my children. They would ask me again, “What do you want?” I would respond again, look at them with a puzzled look on my face, while wondering if I was speaking loudly or clearly enough. That’s when I was reminded that I wasn’t saying what I wanted for myself and that my goals and my aspirations were rooted in my ability to show up for and to help others. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t answer the question about what I wanted because I didn’t know.
I think that it is so important to recognize that as women and as mothers that we are givers. We constantly give to others because we want to make sure that they are okay. That is important, but if we don’t take the time to pour back into ourselves then our well will run dry and we will have nothing left to give. In these moments we forget that we matter too. That’s why it is so dangerous to forget and to lose sight of what we want, because in those moments, we forget that we matter and we forget that we are a gift from God. We forget that as people of God and as gifts of God that we must take care of the temple (ourselves) that He has given to us. Therefore, it is so important to realize if and when you are forgetting what you want and then take a step back to get back to you. Take some time to pour into you, to think about the goals and dreams that you have. Think about your own bucket list and the things that make you happy outside of your children and the people who you are called to serve. That stuff is critical, but it is also critical to not lose sight of your individuality and who God has called you to be. Therefore, I challenge you to ask that question – “What do I want?” If you don’t know, then seek God and continue to ask Him to reveal it to you.
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. My hope is that these lessons will help you to develop a deeper relationship with God.
These lessons are excerpts that originally appeared in the 2 part series: 7 Lessons I Learned As A Single Mother. To view the post in it’s entirety visit Part 1 and Part 2 over on www.FNPhenomenal.com
About the blogger:
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! If you want more tips and resources, then check out this FREE grocery reduction challenge to help you to cut your grocery and takeout bill so you can have more money for the things you love! Click here to join the challenge!