It's 5:01 am. I've been up since 2:27. Hungary. Restless.
In only 2 days, my debut book will be released for the whole world and frankly, the excitement is terrifying! I can't sleep because I am nervous about being completely vulnerable in a world that loves to judge.
The thing about me, and most of us, I'm sure, is that authenticity is such a vitally important characteristic to have- especially in today's society. Sure, we may not always be understood, but at least we are authentic. That is just one of the many life lessons I have learned over the last 3 decades of my life, in addition to so many other lessons that I'm learning as each minute becomes a new hour and a new day and a new opportunity for growth.
God has given us 24 hours in every day, and, whether we are aware of it or not, so much goes on in that time span. How often do you stop to realize that each hour of your day is packed with life-changing lessons? Sure, there are the life altering realities that spin you on your heels- we all get those from time to time. And though we shouldn't ignore the lessons from such unexpected circumstances, I wonder, if maybe it's the subtle lessons of each day that truly shape us and build our character, sometimes in ways that we are not aware of.
So, this morning, as I am responding to my editor's emails, taking notes and praying that God uses my book to help others grow, I'd like to share some personal life lessons that started me on my path to being an author, and a Christian, in the first place.
1. Your Life is an Opportunity to Make a Positive Difference
There is no such thing as a bad day- just bad decisions made in our day. We, as women, have the power to produce life wherever we go. It's a choice. We can see people, events and circumstances as problems, or we can see them as opportunities. Either way, your reaction is really only a reflection of your maturity and the understanding of your own purpose.
When we consider others before ourselves, show kindness to hateful people, seek ways to help those in need or just give a genuine compliment to another person, those decisions are what makes a great day! We can wallow in self pity and hold grudges and attitudes when things don't go our way; we can complain about our current circumstances and harbor envy in our hearts towards others, but that is a misuse of your life and your time.
Learn to invest yourself in making moments meaningful. Learn to celebrate others and pray for God's wisdom to guide you through areas of discomfort and uncertainty. Remember, His mercies are new every morning! So wake up, pray and slay! You've got this!
2. Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak and Slow to Become Angry
A lot of drama occurs when we simply talk more than we listen. Understanding is a spiritual medicine. Popping off is a spiritual poison.
Not everything is going to occur to meet your needs. You might feel left out and disconnected. You might feel misunderstood or wronged in some way, but it's always best to seek understanding, instead of blaming and bashing others for your feelings of insecurity. Learn to breathe!
Start by first approaching the problem, instead of shying away from it- preventing the other person from explaining their side of the story. It makes no sense to be mad at someone who has no idea you are mad at them. That's stupid. That's 6th grade.
The Bible says to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. In layman's terms, God is instructing us to use patience in discovering understanding. Too many friendships have been ruined because one or both people were too imature- too easily angered and offended- to be strong women and confront each other about hurt feelings or misunderstandings. And though none of us enjoy conflict, the problem isn't the problem, necessarily, the real problem, and tragedy, is the unwillingness to address the problem in order to find a solution. Too many of us cling to our hurt, as if that is justification to act immaturely. It isn't. If we are to be women of God, we must first start with practicing honesty. Cutting yourself off from other people who love you, simply because you are hurt, is selfish and prideful. We have to learn how to be willing to seek understanding and be angry less.
3. Compliment Yourself
Okay, I already know about 10 people who will probably giggle to themselves about this one, because this is a life lesson that I practice daily. Call it vainity- cuz maybe it is, but it's such a beautiful thing to feel good about yourself! It took me a long time to do so in a healthy way.
Modeling confused me, a lot. I was gorgeous to this designer and uninteresting to the next. I was in magazines and on TV, but had the most barely love life. Was I pretty? Was I not pretty? I don't know. So, one day, I just decided that I was pretty... in fact, I decided that I was rather gorgeous and I hold tight to that opinion, even today.
Listen, your essence and your existence is beautiful because God says it is. I won't argue with Him on that and neither should you. You are one of a kind- unique , special and gifted, so the least you can do is love yourself and love her well!
We each have our scares, our imperfections, our flaws... but that's what makes us unique and the moment you realize that you look the way you look on purpose is the moment you can begin to rejoice, because God creates everything in excellence!
So learn to look in the mirror and celebrate yourself! You look good girl! Be proud! And...a little lipstick never hurt!
4. First Impressions Mean A lot
We live in this age where we don't want to be judged. I get it. But, you can't walk around naked and then get mad at negative reactions from others. You can't have poor credit and feel offended when the bank won't loan you any money. You can't behave crazy on social media and then get upset when other people don't take your seriously. There is a cause and effect to every choice we make and though we are entitled to do whatever we want, we are not entitled to force others to react to us in the way we want them to. Only God sees the heart; people only see our choices and how we choose to carry ourselves molds an impression of who we are to others, just as we hold impressions in our minds on others, based off of their lifestyle and decisions, as well.
Listen, you can't make crap decisions and expect golden results. That's not how life works. And you can throw out the "I'm being judged card" all you want, but the truth of the matter is, if you don't do questionable things, then no one will have a reason to question you.
Every day, we have the opportunity to decide how we want to present ourselves. It’s that first impression when you walk in the room, engage in a conversation, post that picture on social media or react to the stranger that paints a picture of who you are.
We are all different and we were all called to live different lives. That's what makes our world beautiful. Learn how to carry yourself in your personal best. I'm not suggesting perfection, because Lord knows that's not possible for any of us. But, what I am suggesting is that we all take some inventory of where our mentalities are, the daily legacies we hope to create and the type of impression we want to leave on those who are most definitely watching us.
5. Give People a Chance.
I almost missed my husband. Ya'll probably know the story, by now, and if you don't, you can read about it in my book.
So, Jarrett had these messy deadlocks and I was like, "No way". I didn't see his heart. I wasn't looking for it. I'm so thankful that God chose to change me and open my eyes to see what really matters.
Listen, people are more than what they appear to be. Every experience, hurt, success, change- it all develops person and it would do us all some good to just give people a chance.
I've been told that I was not relatable by a person who never once tried to have a heart to heart conversation with me. That really sucks. How do you know you can't relate to me if you've already chosen that I'm not worth getting to know?
Everyone deserves a chance. I don't care who they are, how they look, how they talk or where they live or work. Every person has a beauty, all their own, and we could miss out on some very extraordinary people, simply due to the fact that we are unable to see past what we see.
Learn to give people a chance. Learn to learn the heart of a person, and not just want you think they can or cannot offer you. You'll be surprised at how much more fulfilling your life will be!
6. Your Emotions Don't Justify Your Actions
It's a weak woman who navigates life based off of her feelings. This is a lesson I am still learning. Yes, I will admit that I am so weak in this area, as many of us are!
If we are honest, most of our so called 'mistakes' occur when we are emotional: We cussed her out because we were feeling some kind of way, we slept with him because we were in our feelings, we spent too much money because we needed to treat ourselves, we drank too much because we felt stressed out.... what else? fill in the blanks!
The feelings we have are valid, because they are ours, but the actions we choose to take, in response to our feelings, are completely our responsibility. We cannot blame our bad choices on our feelings. Feelings don't have intellect, words quoted by Priscilla Shrier! Our feelings are not a measurable means by which to live our lives. If they were, we'd all be unemployed, unmarried, uneducated and the world's population would be a lot smaller.
Trusting our feelings is like putting trust that the waves, without a paddle, will take you to a specific destination. That is not logical thinking or reasonable living.
As we grow, we must be women who operate through faith in God's truth and direction, not merely our feelings. I know the songs tell us to follow our heart and to do what "feels right", but things that feel "right" in the moment often lead to regret in the morning. Raise your hand if you know what I'm talking about!
We must learn to be women who seek God's instructions and not lean in onto our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). In doing so, we will use the wisdom necessary to salvage relationships, opportunities and a stronger sense of God's presence in our lives.
7. Not Every Date is Meant to End in Marriage
I had a very interesting conversation with a friend last week (thank you for letting me share this story, honey)! She went on a date and called me the next day to give me the details.
"How was it?" I asked her.
"It was nice. He was nice.", she said.
"You don't sound that excited"
"No, it was fine. He was really nice. I'm glad I went".
"Well, are you going to see him again?", I asked.
"I probably should."
"What do you mean 'probably'"?, I asked, very confused.
"Well, he wasn't' that attractive, but he was really nice and he likes me a lot. He was a little pushy at first, but we had a nice conversation. He said he's trying to move to Atlanta and that he wants me to come visit him when he does. He said that my company has an office down there, that I wasn't aware of".
"Oh, wow!" I said, "that was very forward of him."
"I know", she said. "I hate Atlanta".
"So, don't go", I said.
"Well, I think I could start to like him if we hung out more. He said he's ready to be in a serious relationship and he kept telling me how pretty I am. He thinks we are a great fit for each other."
"Start to like him", I asked, "So, do you like him or nah?"
"And you hate Atlanta"
"And you think he was pushy and unattractive".
"So, why do you feel like you need to see him again?"
"Well, he was nice."
That, was a long conversation and I'm so thankful that we both hung up the phone feeling more at ease about her ultimate decision to keep her new friendship platonic.
Listen, just because you had a nice date doesn't mean you have to exchange vows at The CheeseCake Factory!
I strongly believe that a woman who won't refuse a date is a woman with low self esteem. It's our ability to be selective that allows us to navigate our lives in healthy ways, leading to fulfillment and happiness. To many of us are obsessed over our relationship status, hoping that entering into one will complete us or give us a better sense of worth. But no man can do that for you. Only God can and He has equipped each of us with common sense.
There's nothing wrong with meeting new people and enjoying the company of men in a pure and friendly fashion, but when it comes to connecting yourself in a relationship, it should be for reasons above how pretty someone thinks you are or how nice they treat you. Here's a secret... they are all nice in the beginning because they like you and they are trying to impress you, but that is not the guarantee of a good husband. Be willing and okay with saying, "no". You can do so in a polite way. Listen, God has big plans for you and they don't involve you settling. There is a great guy out there praying for you, but he won't recognize you if you are cluttering your life with people you are only with to appease the status quo. Learn to set standards and be ok with singleness. It's a beautiful thing and only lasts a few year. Marriage will take you into eternity, so chose wisely... and for the hundredth time ladies, you don't need a man to tell you you're pretty. Look in the mirror and tell yourself... because you are!
8. Empower Other Women
Your words can bring life or death into others. Mind what you say because words can be poison or honey and the damage caused by some comments said in temporary frustration could cause life long destruction that can never be repaired. We all know the sting of unkindness, so we each much desire to choose to be the remedy of such negativity, not perpetuate it.
Listen, we each have our own opinions, thoughts and views, but if sharing such causes someone else to feel belittled, then it is evil to express them. We aren't the Real House Wives of anything and we shouldn't want to be. There is enough attack on our femininity and in our culture towards woman, we have to be the light in the darkness. True, we won't get along with everyone, but that is never a valid excuse to be unkind. We can still speak life over those who are problematic. We can still extend a hug to someone who doesn't deserve it. Everyone needs love and kindness, everyone! And if we desire to experience this in our lives, we must choose to offer it, first.
Practice the grace of celebrating others in order to be celebrated, yourself, because God is not pleased when we attack each other. We are all His daughters and He loves us dearly.
So, instead of operating in envy, drama, gossip and self pity- we can choose to uplift eachother- knowing that God has destined each of us to be uniquely who He has called us to be. We don't have to compete or compare. We can each #BeTheShe that the Lord is cultivating. Trusting Him to guide us allows us to celebrate others who might be on a different journey than we are. I promise you, the person you see as so successful, so beautiful, so happy and so accomplished... there is someone else who sees you in the same way. So, as we celebrate our sisters and enjoy our own blessings, we can empower each other to #BeTheShe to the glory of God!
As April 10th gets closer and closer, and my book's debut approaches, I am left to ponder on all the lessons God has taught me and continues to teach me in my life and I hope you all will be able to do the same: Searching where we are week and celebrating where we are strong. Each day is filled with endless opportunities to love, to grow, to learn and to show people how much you care. Don't waste your life and be willing to pass on your lessons to others! We will all be all the more beautiful for it, I promise!
Live well and learn often... and be sure to purchase my new book! xoxo
PS. You can order your copy of my book here: Beyond Beyond Being Good. Share on your social sites with the hashtag #BeyondBeingGoodBook and I will be sure to contact you with a Thank You treat! Check out the promo video here.
Also, head on over to the shop to purchase a few #BeTheShe items for your favorite girl pals! We're each women on mission with a beautiful purpose and glorious destinies! I hope anything you select in the shop will further empower you to be yourself, as God has called you to be!
Follow me on Instagram: @_katrinakatrina_ and share these posts to encourage others in your life! xoxo