Muddy Waters

Trying to figure this thing out and how to go about it and coming up empty handed.

Feeling like I’m on the right path only to realize I have no idea where I have landed.

Looking back at the past thinking I have treaded muddy waters before and certainly came out clean.

Recognizing the present and hoping that my triumphant past will mirror my present and failure isn’t what my life will mean.

Glimpsing towards the future and imagining that things are better than they seem and this nightmare isn’t reality and simply a dream.

Thinking of the time I felt like a hamster on a wheel cause no matter how hard I ran I just couldn’t gain traction.

Then remembering how now I have noticed I’ve most certainly moved forward and it was not in vain that I gave action.

And yet here I am in muddy waters hoping it will all come out clean in the wash.

Here I am trying to calculate the damage and wondering what will be the final cost.

Will I breathe when this is over or will I expire?

I mean it feels like life or death cause the life I had before has certainly retired.

It’s something about a setback that makes you set back and think.

What am I, who am I, where am I, why am I, how am I ……

I am at the brink….

The brink of something new, something foreign, something unknown, unseen yet necessary.

Perhaps the bump in the road wasn’t sent to my by my adversary.

Maybe I called it forth knowing it was needed.

Perchance in the recesses of my soul I knew this task must be completed.

Could it be that stumbling block is the very thing I need in order to get to where I am going to?

Huh…

If I am honest had I known the valleys necessary for this journey I doubt I would really have agreed to go through.

I had to get thrown off course to be put on the right path.

I had to cry those tears and relearn how to laugh.

That collapsed ego, that frustration, that heartbreak, that loss, that grief……

Eww don’t you dare mention that grief that made me ache from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet

That grief – you know that grief that left me paralyzed….

Paralyzed in the pain that was of colossal size.

I had to hypnotize my mind, and numb the pain before I could even begin to realize….

Realize that my expansion could not come forth and I could not increase in size without what appeared to me as my demise.

My heart’s truth is that even with tears in my eyes I recognize the pain was mandatory for me to achieve my prize.

Battle fatigue from fighting in war after war.

Crying out “No, please don’t send me back to chaos no more!”.

That’s the thought echoing until a new thought forms.

In the time when they tell you, you got to fight once more.

You start crying but you realize you got arsenal in store.

So you start saying okay I’m going to make it out of here or die trying,

Cause last time I fell I spent way too much time crying.

Nah this time I’m retracing my steps and my lessons learned I’ll be applying.

Cause I ain’t spending more time than necessary to go from falling to flying.

All I know is what I know.

And I’m going to take that knowledge and from here I will go.

I will go to a place previously unknown.

Yet granted to me by past seeds I have sown.

This is my story, line by line.

Every period, apostrophe, grammatical error and broken rhyme.

Yeah them muddy waters are going to be treaded and where I’m headed I promise you I’ll come out clean destination unknown except in my dreams.

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

All Too Familiar No

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Photo Courtesy of: Jamie Kathleen Haughaboo

There is something about being told no that can leave us feeling depleted.

When you have what you consider to be a bright idea and present it to someone only for then to inform you that they don’t think your idea is any good, it has the potential to stop many of us dead in our tracks.

Especially if we view the person as an authority on the subject matter.

There no can cause us to think that we don’t have what it takes to stand toe to toe with others or to be seated at the table with those who are at the place where we are so eagerly would like to pull up a chair.

But then we hear stories of people who were told no several times and then they finally hear that one yes that affirmed them.

There are always rumors of people who go from the bottom to the top, but those people are far and few between.

Nevertheless, those people give us hope.

But as I think of those people, I also think how can I be certain that I have what it takes to make it to the top?

I mean for all the people I hear of who made it, I know hundreds more who didn’t.

So am I one of the few people who will make it or am I one of the hundreds of people who will give up.

The truth is I don’t know. But I am going to die trying to achieve better.

I have to.

I owe it to myself to keep trying.

Because giving up on my dreams simply doesn’t work for me.

If I die a dreamer, I die a dreamer.

For, I would rather die a dreamer than die hopeless.

I arrived at this conclusion after literally being rejected over a thousand times in one year in an attempt to achieve one of my dreams.

So the way I see it is that when it comes to being told no, I am a master. For surely, I myself have become all too familiar with hearing the word no.

It was about four years ago when I realized that when it comes to my life that I have to stop settling.

I didn’t know how to stop but I knew I had to stop.

I didn’t know that decision would lead me on a path to hearing no repeatedly.

I am not confident that had I known from the beginning how hard this road would have been that I would have journeyed it.

It seems as if my whole life fell apart after deciding that I had to love myself enough to no longer settle.

But as they say, sometimes when it seems things are falling apart they are really coming together.

For example, it was at the height of me hearing the word no that I began this blog.

Who would have thought hearing the word no an overwhelming number of times would have propelled me to begin a journey of finally realizing that I have to love myself?

To that I say thank God for no.

I give thanks to the word no despite the fact that there was a point when its utterance caused me to jettison myself down to rock bottom.

I felt like life was never going to get any better.

No, I take that back. I knew that life would get better, but I didn’t want to go through the process of waiting for it to get better.

I am all for the mountain top experiences but I didn’t feel like enduring the pain that it would take for me to finally reach the pinnacle.

I was like those people who try to lose 50 pounds in a month. I didn’t want to eat right and work out and lose the weight in a year or two… No I wanted success right now!

I was also making the mistake of thinking that no meant never.

There I was sulking, feeling pitiful for myself and telling my sob story to anyone who would listen to it.

I became someone I didn’t know and didn’t want to know.

I think in many ways I lost my mind.

I am glad I lost whatever it was, because I am now clearer than I have ever been in my entire life.

I can now clearly see that all that rejection was not a judgment on who I am as a person, but at the time old me couldn’t recognize that.

Old me failed to see that no one in this world can define me, but me.

I was in such a poor mental state that I thought that if I went out on a date and it wasn’t a match that it meant that I wasn’t good enough.

I failed to see the obvious – it simply meant that it wasn’t a match.

My self-esteem was in such a bad place that I didn’t know that I was supposed to be trying to see if the person was compatible with me, not if I was good enough for him.

If I went on a job interview and was declined an offer I thought it meant I wasn’t good enough for the position.

I didn’t know it meant that there was a position that was out there that would allow me to better utilize my education, skills and experience in a way that would allow me to excel and grow in a positive environment.

When people betrayed me and hurt me I thought that said something about me, I didn’t know it was a reflection of who they were.

I was unaware of the fact that I am in transition and while in transition I am simply learning who I am and who I am not. I am learning what I want and what I don’t want.

Now is not the time to give up, now is the time to push forward.

I have learned that the reason I am being told no isn’t because I am not good enough, I am being told no because I am in the preparation period of receiving what is best for me.

Hearing yes prematurely would ultimately cause me more harm than good.

I see that now. However, there was a time when hearing the word no made me feel like something was inherently wrong with me and that I would never get things right.

I thought my life was some sort of cosmic joke.

I had to get a grip on myself.

The pity party had to end.

Thankfully, I was surrounded by friends and family who were there for me and who helped me to make my way through my darkest hours.

I wish this was a blog about how I have reached my mountain top.

But the truth is that I haven’t even reached flat land.

I still am in the valley lows.

But the thing is that I am no longer in the doldrums.

I think there is a time and a place for everything and that our experiences are necessary for our ultimate expansion.

So while I don’t regret my time being stagnant, I must tell you that I celebrate the moment that something inside of me clicked and I decided to let each no empower me to keep looking.

The reason that I was in the doldrums was because I allowed myself to become paralyzed with fear.

I was in such a bad place that I let the idea of hearing no keep me from even trying.

I would sit there on my couch in fear of everything.

But some how I got off of that dat burn couch!

Now a closed-door has become a signal that I am being pointed in the right direction.

I know it seems cliché but I truly had to become thankful for closed doors.

I had to work to overcome my fear of having a door closed in my face.

There are times when I think ‘what will people think of me’.

But I have come to a place where I realize that people are going to think what they want to think and for the most part people are far too self-absorbed to give much thought about what is happening in my life.

So if I fall in front of the world and the world laughs at me, I know I will have fallen trying to climb the highest mountain and I find comfort in that.

I have yet to even come close to reaching the top of my mountain, but I won’t stop climbing.

My door hasn’t opened but I have had windows open left and right.

I know what it is to be scared.

But I have learned to make it moment by moment.

I know what it is to not know how I am going to make it or how I will have my needs met and yet those same situations caused me to learn not to live in fear because I have not lived a day with my needs unmet.

There are times when I have been afraid to have hope, because having hope always puts me at risk of being let down.

No one wants to experience the pain of disappointment.

But who was I kidding, I was already disappointed.

I had nothing to lose so I may as well have hope.

The way I see it is that if I die without fulfilling my dreams and I never see anything that I want materialize how is that much different from being negative and still not seeing it manifest?

I would rather try and fail than not try and always wonder.

Like I said I wish this was a success story blog, but I surmise that some how in many ways it is.

It is my story of how I decided that I can hear no until my dying die, but I am not going to allow that word to measure my worth.

People can continue to reject me and it’s okay because I accept me.

I accept me flaws and all.

I will continue working to improve myself.

Not because I am not good enough, but because as long as I have breath in my body I plan to continue to cultivate myself into something better than I was before.

Ultimately I am the greatest benefactor of my growth process.

So, people can continue to tell me no and that I am too much of this and not enough of that.

And I will still be here, still standing, still breathing and still mountain climbing.

If I die never having reached the top I am okay with that.

What I am not okay with is me dying without trying.

This isn’t a platitude without any substance for I can truly say that I am thankful for all the times I heard no.

It was in hearing no that I was saved from being in toxic relationships with people who did not mean me well.

It was in hearing no that I was rejected for employment positions that I thought I wanted but through redirection I was placed in the presence of amazing people who I don’t think I would have met otherwise.

I can genuinely say that those encounters were well worth the no, for the value of those encounters is priceless.

If I told you that hearing no that much was easy I would be a liar.

My truth is that I spent a lot of time on my couch as I became familiar with no.

I would think this is too hard. Nothing is working, I can’t get any traction.

I felt like a hamster on a wheel. I was doing a whole lot of moving but I wasn’t going anywhere.

I was upset because I made the mistake of thinking that those no’s meant I would never hear yes.

Also, I wanted someone to come and save me.

Ironically, I think what was most bewildering to me were the people who would come into my life and offer to help me without me asking for any assistance only for them to disappear from my life.

I would sit there confused wondering what was the point of them interrupting me just to leave?

I felt like God was mocking me.

I thought to myself, ‘I was doing just fine at making it the best I could only to have someone dangle hope in front of me for the sole purpose of snatching it away’.

But I have learned God was not mocking me.

Those people let me know that there was no one coming to save me, if I was going to make it, I was going to have to make it.

I recall at one point being so disillusioned I actually got upset at the idea that once I finally do make it that people would come into my life and want to be apart of it.

I thought ‘if you don’t want to be here when I am struggling then when I make it no new people better not show up!’.

I was mad at people who I don’t even know and who aren’t even apart of my story because they weren’t there for me when I felt like they should be. – Yep I was crazy.

And I was mad at people for not being who I wanted them to be for me.

There they were, being who they were and I was mad that they weren’t who they weren’t.

Quite frankly, I was just mad.

Thankfully, I came to my senses.

I am now at a place where I hold no ill will towards the people who promised to help but didn’t. Because truth be told they offered me a much-needed glimmer of hope.

I smile at the thought of the people who will come when I reach my mountain top because I now realize they couldn’t possibly be here for me now, because they are busy mountain climbing there own mountain.

And I forgive the people who couldn’t be who I wanted them to, because the truth is it was never their job to be anything more than who they are. I accept them for who they are and I thank them for being authentic.

I also am thankful for those people who are here with me right now while I am in my valley cheering me on.

But oddly enough I am especially thankful for the hope danglers. This is because when I reflect back it felt good having hope. They helped me to see that being hopeful made me happier than being negative, so why should I let hope go just because they walked away from the table?

This quest of mine is between me and the divine alone.

The reason that I haven’t heard yes isn’t because I am not good enough.

I haven’t heard yes because the time has not yet come.

I am not prepared for yes.

If yes came before I was ready then my dreams would surely crumble before me.

So what do I do in the meantime? – I enjoy the meantime.

Yep that’s right I enjoy the struggle.

I embrace the lessons, I learn through the tears and I trust the process.

I don’t like grief, heartache and depression, because they are painful.

But I learn far more through the hard times than I do during the good times.

Does it hurt me when my hopes are dashed? – Not like it used to.

Because now I realize that it is simply redirection and not rejection.

But you want to know what hurts more than having hopes dashed? – Being hopeless.

Truly, all these closed doors are simply helping to direct me to an understanding of what I do want and what I don’t want.

Hearing no, doesn’t mean you give up on your dream.

Hearing no, gives you redirection on how to achieve your dream.

When things fell apart for me I thought I knew what I wanted.

Now I realize that if I received what I thought I had wanted I would never have uncovered the beauty of who I am and begun to unearth my true potential.

Thank God for no. Because it was all those times I heard no that has helped me as I journey on my way up.

So don’t be afraid of no.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Nicole with appropriate specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Lessons Learned

I haven’t blogged in a over a month.

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Not because I don’t have anything to write about but because today is the first day that I have had both the time and the energy to sit down at the computer and share my journey.

This last month has brought a smile to my face and helped to strengthen my resolve.

I have reconnected with people from my childhood who have blessed me tremendously, I have learned new skills at work that I am proud of, I recognized some of my weaknesses and am taking steps to strengthen them.

I have gained a fresh perspective on life and it has brought me hope.

In essence I have been learning – I have been growing – and I have been expanding.

Steve Jobs said,

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will some how connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Well I have taken a moment to reflect back and I have been connecting the dots and I want to tell you that while I don’t have a clear picture I am thankful for each dot.

Yes even the ones that I thought were ugly, too painful, unnecessary and the ones that I spent far more time with then I care to admit.

I thank God for the dots.

This time last year I felt like giving up.

To be honest I think I did give up, but thankfully life didn’t give up on me.

It wasn’t really that I didn’t think that things would get better, it was that I didn’t feel like learning the lessons.

I didn’t want to suffer, I didn’t want to be challenged or to face adversity and I had hoped that maybe I could take a short cut.

I was certain I would make it through to the other side I just didn’t want to do the work.

In the same way that we know that if we exercise and eat right that a healthier body will meet us on the other side, I knew that if I went through the lessons life had to offer that a healthier me was waiting to be unearthed.

I simply didn’t feel like putting in the work of learning the lessons.

I didn’t want to cry, I didn’t want to feel pain, I just wanted the benefits of a healthier me.

But a healthier me required for me to lose some things.

I had to let go of that guy who didn’t mean me well.

I had to let go of those negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs.

I had to find a healthier way to deal with my emotions and stop with the emotional eating (by the way I lost 6 pounds since my last blog post).

Have I gotten to where I want to be in life?

Nope.

But I have gotten to where I am supposed to be.

I still have so much work to do but I am in a better place… a healthier place.

I am happy and at peace in a way I never saw coming.

My laugh is richer than it was before (which is no small feat because I laugh a lot!)

But I have to be honest while I knew things in my life would get better I never thought that this would be my better.

We are told to not grow weary in our well doing.

We are told to exercise our faith.

We are told to believe in ourselves and our ability to achieve greatness.

But this time last year it felt like me walking out on faith landed me right into a sink hole.

It seemed to me that I was doing right and I was treating people right and for my effort I received a box full of wrong.

I was facing challenge after challenge and setback after setback and it seemed like anytime someone would say “well, at least it can’t get any worse” – it did.

I started to believe that I was some type of a martyr. I had convinced myself that I was going through unnecessarily and that I was being unfairly punished. It didn’t occur to me that what I saw as my “failures” were actually setting me up for my greatest successes. At the time I didn’t realize that I was learning things that would help me to become my best self. It wasn’t until recently that I began to see that happen over the past two years that I thought were meant to destroy me have been my greatest blessings.

Those obstacles taught me more about faith.

I may not have the greatest faith, but my faith has increased greatly.

I have grown to respect the fact that my faith could only improve by exercising it.

Because of the adversity I have faced I have also learned not to worry as much as I used to.

And when I find myself worrying I can rest on the truth that I have a 100 percent success rate in God coming through for me.

You know…. it is easy to keep the faith when things are going well and you can see evidence that things are going to get better.

But keeping the faith when people are laughing at you and when you have no inkling of how you are going to make it through the next 24 hours takes a level of perseverance that I don’t believe most of us tap into.

Personally I felt like throwing in the towel.

I wanted to close my eyes, fall asleep and not get back up.

Not so much because I didn’t think things wouldn’t get any better.

I knew God would see me through.

No, I wanted to give up because I didn’t want to endure the pain that comes with growth.

But that pain was indeed necessary.

In two years time my pain included becoming familiar with life as a divorced mother of three teenagers, I quit my career and relocated from Alaska to the southeast part of the United States. I started a business only to have it fall through. I endured the pain of a broken heart from yet another failed relationship. I saw my finances turned upside down and faced my childhood demons along with some other gut wrenching moments.

Forget mountain high I was definitely in the world of valley low.

For a while I thought maybe life was simply trying to humble me.

Perhaps I was too prideful and too ungrateful.

In my naivete I  thought I could circumvent the lessons life was trying to teach me by showing life that I was okay with the humility.

If life was offering me blows then I would show life that I was okay with the pain in the hopes it would let up.

But despite my false humility the blows just kept on coming.

I reached a point where I had to believe God with how I was going to make it from day to day.

I am glad God did that.

It increased my faith tremendously.

It’s easy to believe things will work out when we think we know how we are going to make it.

But what about when you wake up at 8 am and don’t know how you are going to finance yourself for the next 24 hours.

I lived through that and while it wasn’t easy I believe it was necessary to help me to learn that I never have to worry about things like how I will eat for God will most certainly take care of that.

I learned that I may not always have what I want but I will always have what I need.

I also learned to trust myself and I gained a greater spirit of discernment.

Furthermore, I reached a point where I decided I don’t want to settle for poor treatment in romantic relationships and that I am not willing to settle for a relationship that lacks love, kindness, compassion, respect, appreciation and care. I hold myself to a much higher regard now.

While sadly it took me having someone treat me poorly for me to realize that emotional abuse isn’t an option for me any more it isn’t about the process it is about the outcome.

So while the encounter was painful I thank God for that relationship.

I am certain that while I probably did need a fresh dose of humility that my time in the valley was about far more than a lesson in humility. The woman I am today I didn’t know I could become.

I achieved things I didn’t think were achievable.

There are people who would look where I am at and see me as a failure but I know that the level of understanding that I possess about who I am and the love that God has for me makes me great.

I went from believing that I had to settle and not having confidence in myself to growing more secure in myself and increasing my self-worth.

I have started falling in love with me.

And as I began this love affair with myself and to increase my self-worth life started to feel smoother.

I am thankful that when I gave up on life that life didn’t give up on me.

At my lowest point I wanted to just say “that’s it, I gotta split” but life said “yes I knocked you down but it wasn’t for you to quit”.

Life wouldn’t let me give up on me!

I haven’t bounced back and I am not sure that I want to.

What I mean is I don’t think I ever want to go back to who I was.

I was a woman who didn’t believe in herself and who lacked self-confidence.

I was a people-pleaser who didn’t have any boundaries and who had a weak no.

I didn’t really love myself and settled for lower level love because I had lied to myself and convinced a larger part of myself that substandard love was the best I could achieve.

I was a mess on the inside and my life was a mess on the outside.

My health, my finances and my relationships were all suffering because I was suffering.

So no I don’t want to bounce back, I want to change course.

I have been breaking patterns of behavior that has caused me not to live life to the fullest, I have started dealing with my emotions instead of eating my pain and I began to recognize my worth and to set boundaries.

I stumble and I fall but I am getting stronger.

I see some of my flaws but I also know and am exercising strategies on how to improve them.

I am learning to be secure in my insecurities and I am at a beautiful place.

Thankfully while I went through adversity God allowed me to be surrounded by amazing friends and family.

I recognize that many of people don’t have that and that I should be extremely thankful that I was blessed with great friendships so I don’t take the blessing of those relationships lightly.

I think that life gave me those positive relationships because they were a necessary ingredient in me becoming my best self. I firmly believe that whatever it is that a person needs to fulfill their unique life purpose they have been granted.

I know that life gets hard and that there are times when it doesn’t seem to make sense but please know that it will work out for your good.

I have been told that life doesn’t happen to us but it happens for us.

That is hard to believe when a loved one dies, you lose your job and/or receive a bad medical report. But I can tell you that I have seen first hand how things come around full circle.

Sometimes we wonder why we have to go through adversity.

But I have come to learn the mountains aren’t placed in front of us to stop us in our tracks, rather they are placed there for us to strengthen our muscles while we climb them. And as we climb them we release the unnecessary baggage that is holding us back.

I am on my way to a better place and I am thankful for that.

It hurt, I cried and I felt like giving up and yet I am still standing.

It was hard and I didn’t like it but I couldn’t have gotten where I am without it.

Thank God for the trials and the tribulations.

I am still a work in progress and will be until I breathe my last breath but the Renata I am today is in a place that the Renata I was yesteryear was not prepared to step into.

If I don’t lose any weight, if I don’t get my finances back on track or find a romantic partner I have learned that those things don’t define me as a person.

I am not my position, my weight, income or marital status.

I have so much greatness that I am just realizing that I need to tap into and I am so glad that I have come to a place where I am ready to step into the fullness of who I am.

As my schedule eases up it is my intention to start back posting more regularly.

But in the meantime I hope you are able to see that life is not trying to break you, it is trying to make you. Please don’t give up on life because life hasn’t given up on you.

Stay blessed and even though they aren’t always easy learn those lessons that life is diligently trying to teach you.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

I Forgot

I Found the Sun this Morning                                                    Photo Courtesy of Chris Gilluly

Lying there in the darkest valley I recall ever being in, I searched my mind to uncover a previous time that I had felt this low. I replayed my past in the hopes that I could comfort myself in the knowing that the same God who pulled me out of those dark places would pull me out of this dark place.

I had been through some really hard times and everything always worked out, so I found some comfort in that.

But this time was different. This time felt really low. I had never experienced anything like this before in my life.

I didn’t want to doubt that God would bring me out and while a part of me believed that everything would be okay the other part of me was afraid of just how bad things would have to get before things would get better.

I didn’t want to keep walking down the dark path that I had conjured up in my mind as my future.

I tried to keep the faith, I prayed, I tried to stay hopeful, but the truth is I was doubtful and my faith was weak.

So like contestants on the American game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire I phoned a friend.

As a matter of fact I phoned a friend, my mother and an aunt. I was hurting and my eyes were filled with tears, I was emotionally in a dark place and I wanted some sense of comfort.

I explained to my loved ones that I couldn’t figure out how to pick myself up.

I felt like I must be doing something wrong.

It must be my fault that nothing seems to be working out.

Surely, if I was a better person then things would be going better in my life.

Silently, I was replaying all of my sins that I could think of since the time of my birth and I figured that is why nothing was working out.

The times I was mean to my sister, the times I wasn’t a perfect mother, the times when I lazy, the times I was selfish, the times I was arrogant, the times when I disrespected my vessel, I even wondered if it was because I had went five miles over the speed limit.

I thought maybe it was all of those things.

Then I realized it was none of those things.

God’s mercies are new every day.

I sin daily but I purpose to do what is pleasing to God.

Yes, in my humanness I make mistakes, I give into the temptation of the flesh, I sin.

But it is not my heart’s desire to do so.

It is my desire to do right and to treat people right.

It is my desire to love God, to love me, to love and help others and to serve God.

I was under the misguided notion that if only I could become a better person than perhaps God would allow me to exit this lowly place.

Surely it was all my fault that I was repeatedly being delivered bad news.

If I was a good person then good things would come.

I had tried being thankful for the things I had and that worked for some time but the bad news just kept piling up.

And I tried finding the good side of my negative situations, but the bad news just kept coming.

I tried to stop doing things that I felt weren’t pleasing to God, sometimes I was able to break the negative habits, other times I failed miserably in my humanness and in the end I just felt worse about myself

I tried be positive and while that worked for a while I realized all I was positive about was that I was negative.

All I kept thinking was I need to change who I am and become a better person and then all of the bad things will stop happening. If I did more and I tried harder, if I maximized my time, studied scripture more, treated people kinder, treated me kinder, became and all around better person then I could move from this shadow land.

But my thoughts didn’t match my knowing.

I know that God looks at my heart and that He sees me loving Him and He is delights in that.

I know that God doesn’t wait for me to become perfect before He can bless me.

I know that He is faithful and just and will forgive me my sins and cleans me from all unrighteousness.

I know that sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer afflictions.

I know that all things work for the good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.

You see, I was having a hard time believing what I had a knowing of.

I was having a hard time because my truth is I was doubtful.

I was doubtful because I was looking at what I could see, I was listening to the noise that was surrounding me.

I know that God’s mercies are new everyday and I know if I seek the forgiveness from the Father that He casts my sins into the sea of forgetfullness. So why is it that I had allowed myself to entertain the notion that my sin was causing me to have so much adversity in my life.

God knew my faults before He formed me in my mother’s womb. He saw this day before I lived it, my valley was no surprise to Him.

My friend and I discussed how God had brought us through so much and that while we cannot see how it is going to workout we will continue to believe that God will bring us through and take comfort in that.

We will not worry what we will eat or drink and trust that the Father has prepared our meal.

My mother and aunt encouraged me that God was doing a work in me and that everything would be okay.

And my aunt also gave me further insight that struck a chord in me that was strong enough to bring me back to my place of knowing.

She said, “Renata, stop trying to do so much, you are trying to do things in your power and not letting God do what He needs to do…”, I finished her sentence with, “I need to just be”

She replied “yes”

I further explained “If I have my hands on it then I am not leaving room for God to put His hands on it. It is sort of like He is saying if you want to do it your way okay, but when you are ready to let me be in control I am here”

She said “yes”

You see, I was trying so hard to get out of the valley I forgot that God would take me through it in His perfect timing and in His perfect way.

I was trying so hard to find out what was wrong with me that I forgot that God delights in the heart of me.

I was using what I perceived to be good or bad news as a gauge of whether or not God was pleased with me.

I wanted to get out of my valley so fast that I forgot to take the time to learn from my valley.

I forgot that it is during my valleys that I learn the most.

It is during the hard times that I grow the most.

It is the valleys where I spend my most time with the Father and He longs for me to spend time with Him

Perhaps in my eagerness to get out of this dark place, I forgot how good time with the Father really is.

I am sad to say that while I cry out thanks to God when I first reach the mountain top, as time goes by I am guilty of not seeking Him the way I do when I in the valley. When I am walking the flat lands I tend to become prideful and think I am doing things by my own strength. But a funny thing happens when I am in the valley. In the valley I learn obedience, in the valley I am humbled, in the valley I seek my Master’s voice, in the valley I long for Him.

So this valley my darkest valley as of yet I will lie here with my Father and I will spend time with Him as He spends time with me.

He wants time with me, He wants to sup with me, He wants to love on me.

In my haste I focused on how I did not like this dark place, I wanted things to be the way I wanted them to be.

I forgot that it is better to have things the way God would have them to be.

This life isn’t about what I was upset about. I was so focused on things that will pass away that I forgot about Him who will forever stay.

I was afraid that things were just going to keep getting worse.

I forgot that no matter how bad things may be that God is with me.

I wanted to know the answer to my problems, I forgot God was the Answer.

So I have decided to just be.

He wants time with me, how could I have forgotten Him who created me?

I have decided to embrace this dry place and rejoice in this day, because it is in this dry place that my Master shows Himself strong and it is this day that He has made.

I marvel in how He daily meets my needs and how He has laid out all of my provisions.

He saw this hour before it arrived and He has prepared me for it.

This moment in time I am destined to live.

This moment in time I am destined to be.

I will draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to me.

I forgot that He hears me.

I forgot that He sees me.

I forgot that He has me tattooed on the palm of His hand.

I forgot, but now I remember

I remember to love myself enough not to beat myself up. I remember that God looks at the heart. I remember that God never leaves us or forsakes us. I remember that this too shall pass. I remember that everything will be okay and that I don’t have to be perfect to be blessed.

So while I forgot who my God was, He always remembered me.

Always love yourself enough to know that even though times get rough it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. When hard times come and you enter the land of shadows stay encouraged. Keep the faith that as your days are so shall your strength be. God is with you and God is with me. Remember sometimes He just wants to be alone with you, and I will remember that sometimes He just wants to be alone with me.

Renata Nicole

Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

© Renata Pittman and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Clear Skies Ahead

Clear Skies Ahead Courtesy of Demetrise Perry

Clear Skies Ahead
Courtesy of Demetrise Perry

When I was little my family used to take long car trips quite frequently. During some of the road trips it would start pouring down sheets of rain. I mean rains so heavy that we could barely see the windshield wipers going back and forth over the windshield of the car. It was simply unsafe to drive. People would start pulling over and some would stop under bridges to wait for the storm to let up.

But not my dad. Nope, my dad would just keep on driving. He would say,, “I am not stopping, all I have to do is drive through the storm”. And sure enough there would be clear skies not too far ahead.

I don’t advocate getting in a vehicle and driving down the road when you can’t see anything in front of you. But as scary as those trips were with my dad at the wheel hell-bent on not losing time – he was on to something.

In life, storms are going to come.

You can immediately pull over on the side of the road and throw on your flashers alerting people you have stopped and that you don’t want to be hit while you are waiting on the storm to pass.

You can stop under the bridge to weather the storm while you wait for it to pass.

Or you can drive through the storm.

No matter what you choose to do in an attempt to make it through storms, logic tells you that the storm is going to pass. There will be times when it rains so hard you may not be able to even see 12 inches in front of you. But as it goes with driving through a storm so it goes with the storms of life.

Clear skies are always just up ahead.

The thing is I never know when clear skies are coming, I simply know they are coming.That is the lesson that I have learned to hold on to. When storm clouds gather, the thunder roars, the rain pours and the lightning flashes I remember that there are ALWAYS clear skies ahead.

Sometimes I get afraid but it is in those times I stop and seek shelter. While I sit in shelter I remember the truth that the rain is going to stop.

Other times I instantly become paralyzed with fear, I stop dead in my tracks and I just sit still. But even then I have learned that no matter how loud the thunder roars to not let it drown out the truth that the rain is going to stop.

Then there are other times when my father’s blood runs through me in a way that I cannot explain and I drive through that storm knowing that clear skies are just ahead and no rain is going to stop me from making my way to my destination.

It isn’t about the approach that I take. It is about the fact that I hold on to the truth that hard times do not last always. I remind myself that I will smile again, the tears will stop, the mourning stops and that even when it seems like the storm is getting worse the storm always stops.

I don’t forget the storms that I have been through. I use the fact that the storms of my past are no more as a reminder that no matter how I chose to make it through the storm that God always allowed the storm to stop.

Some storms lasted a long time. Others seemed to be followed by more storms coming back to back over a short period of time. I would often feel like it would never let up. I would begin to think that I was being punished for having the rains of life come my way. I would beat myself up and believe that the storms of life were there because I was a bad person.

But, the rains fall on the just and unjust. I am learning to stop being so hard on myself and to stop blaming myself for my humanness. I am learning that if I do the best that I know how to do, if I love myself, love God and love others that there is no reason for me to allow guilt and blame  to enter my thought process allowing me feel like I called on the storm.

Hold on to the faith that clear skies are up ahead and don’t beat yourself up because it rained. Love yourself enough to know that while there are times when we bring problems on ourselves there are also times when it simply just rains – and all rains will eventually stop.

Don’t let people convince you that you are a bad person that summoned the storm when you know for yourself that you have been doing right and treating people right. When life’s tragedies come upon you – and they will come don’t allow people to make you believe that you must have done something wrong to bring it upon yourself; especially  when you know for yourself that you have a pure heart. Love yourself enough to know that bad things do happen to good people. 

Clear skies are ahead. I don’t know when they are coming but I do know that clear skies are always just ahead. 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“That Cîroc Will Sit You Down”

Beauty Even in the Cold Renata Nicole

Beauty Even in the Cold
Renata Nicole

I recall advice that I received from my uncle regarding Cîroc Vodka. He said “That Cîroc will sit you down”. That was his way of cautioning me that it was a strong drink.

I have grown to learn that there are some things that you endure in life that will “sit you down”.

There have been times in my life where I was prideful and life took the necessary steps to humble me by sitting me down. I have disregarded the counsel of friends and family and had my arrogance sit me down. I have also had red flags glaring all over the place and rather than turn the other way, I sped up and moved into what my gut told me was the wrong direction. My end result was that my disobedience to the Voice of Truth sat me down.

I have passed judgement on others and thought myself better than people who sin differently than me. In turn I have had the opportunity to be judged and even at times finding myself walking similar paths of the very people I foolishly thought I was more highly than. And in that act, my very own judgement sat me down.

But there have been times when I don’t know any rhyme or reason as to why I was sat down. I think the first time life truly sat me down was when I was about 14 years old. I was in my mom’s room and a phone call came in. By the close of the phone call I was informed that my uncle had been murdered – Now that sat me down!

I remember my naive fourteen year old mind journaling and asking why didn’t the murderer ask me if it was okay to take my uncle’s life. I recall thinking had he asked me I could have told him that I loved my uncle very much and that taking him away from us would have hurt us deeply. That was my first dose of just how cruel a human being could be – and it sat me down.

I have no clue on the face of God’s green earth what my teenage self could have done to require me tosuffer such a tragic loss. But I found peace when I came to find that “the rain falls on both the just and the unjust”. Sometimes bad things just happen due to no fault our own.

Yes, there are times when we drink the Cîrocs of life and we sit our own selves down. If we are smart we learn from our mistakes and we don’t sit down in the same place twice. But there are times when we don’t choose to drink from the different flavors of the Cîrocs of this world and yet we still get sat down. To me those are the hard times.

When I have life sit me down and I have no clue why, I still ask myself: What did I do? Who did I wrong? How do I make this right so I can get out of this hard place? Sometimes after my reflection I simply cannot reveal my role in the tragedy.

I have come to find that sometimes those dark and lonely places where I can’t even see how I stumbled or who pushed me are for my growth. Those hard times when my back is up against the wall and I have no way of knowing how I will have my needs met, are ironically my best times.

They are my best times because I am quick to rely on God to have my needs met. When I don’t know how I am going to make it through to the next day, when I don’t know where I will find food or drink and I have no one to trust but God my intimacy with God gets stronger.

I used to worry a lot. I would have stress and anxiety about everything. Now, I don’t worry as much any more. When I find myself stressed or worrying, I immediately ask God to forgive me for not trusting him. While I will not pretend that I like the valleys of life, I must confess it is something beautiful in how God shows Himself strong by providing my daily provisions. It is something humbling in recognizing everything that I possess is all by the grace of God.

I have sat myself down and been sat down enough times to know that God always allows me to get back up. Sometimes I get frustrated during my times of tribulation. But it is at that time that I rehearse my victories. I remind myself that the very same God that pulled me through my yesterday will pull me through my tomorrow. I keep the faith and I press through.

Being sat down reminds me to trust God and it reminds me that I am flawed. I hate being sat down, but I love the lessons I learn while sitting. When I stand back up I never walk the same.

I see people who get sat down and who sit themselves down over and over again. I also see people who are sat down that never seem to get back up. I mean years go by and they are just still sitting.

I have learned not to pass judgement. I have learned not to assume to know why they are sitting. But I have learned that when I find myself in the sitting position my fastest way back up is to ask did I do something to cause this, and if so I take responsibility and I seek forgiveness. If I do self-reflection and I come back with a clear conscience, I immediately recognize the need to practice patience.

I sit in patience as I wait for God to make provisions, to provide protection and to teach me lessons. I become more quiet because I have come to find that times of tribulation are a good time for self inspection. I practice thankfulness in a greater way. I am reminded to help others because I become all too familiar with what it is to feel helpless.

But I will not pretend like I don’t get frustrated. While I handle things far better than I did in my yesteryear I still get irritated. I find myself thinking foolish things like maybe God has left me here to die. I call that thought foolish because, in my 33 years of sitting down and getting back up God has always lifted me back up.

So my advice is to stay away from the different flavors of the CÎrocs of life. Don’t drink them – because they will sit you down. But when you know you haven’t partaken in anything and you find yourself sitting, be patient, keep the faith, draw nearer to God and He will draw nearer to you.

And remember even if you are sitting don’t forget to love yourself even while sitting. Love yourself by self reflecting so that when you get back up – and you will get back up – you will find that you stand up stronger than you stood before. Even if you walk with a limp, if you keep the faith you will still stand.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.