#ATOEpipany: Lemons or Lemonade, God’s Grace is Still Sweet

ATO Epiphany / Breaking / Carousel / August 5, 2016

My entire life I have operated on things going “my way.”

Now wait, wait a second…before you turn into judgmental Judy understand this—I’ve gotten what I’ve worked and prayed for. From the time I was seven years old, if I prayed (hard enough) for a sun shiny day for a field trip, God answered. If I prayed to get into the colleges of my choosing, God delivered. If I prayed for a director’s position at non-profit where I’d be the youngest leader there, God was like, “boom, done.”

Everything in my life went my way, until about nine months ago. Within that nine months I was let go from my director’s position, my student loan debt hit an all-time high (hello $2,100 per month payment), Christmas was a week away, and I had just gone hard as a motha’ on holiday gifts.

*Cue self-implosion*

I have always been faithful to my faith.

I pray when I wake up, I read my bible, I attend church, I start every morning with Christian based music to get my mind right, I talk to God throughout the day, and I pray before I go to sleep. I was (am) faithful to my faith.

I remember feeling the anxiety and stress, like a timed bomb about to go off just days before my supervisor called me into our conference room. I felt it, I knew it was coming—but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I was still actively doing my job, working 12 hour days, to put out the most kick-ass annual report the organization had ever seen (mind you it was truly kick-ass, the Board and CEO wouldn’t stop singing my praises). Yet simultaneously my safety net of life was unraveling from all corners, and I had nothing to hold on to but prayer.

And I expected God to deliver, like he always had, every time I asked.

I prayed and I prayed and I prayed harder than I think I ever had before in my life. I knew God always had a funny way of swooping in at the last second and turning things around. And this time…it didn’t happen. Everything came crashing forward, and I wasn’t prepared whatsoever.

To be honest I was a bit in shock. Why didn’t God answer my prayers? Why is this happening? Why would God let everything fall apart for me right now…like right now?!

Little did I know this would be the beginning of a snowball effect of many unfulfilled prayers for the next couple months. It would be the beginning of a lot of “no’s,” a lot of disappointment, and a lot of this can’t be real life.

Over the course of my first month in my newly unemployed (or “funemployed,’ as my brother called it) state I was denied every job I applied to that I “thought” I wanted, and was quite qualified for. At this same time, I filed my taxes and for the first time in my life I ended up owing the government money. The tax professional basically had to hold my hand as she talked me through what I needed to do to give the IRS more of my hard-earned money. I felt like life was playing some sort of sick joke on me. Owing the government, unemployed, $2,100 student loan payment, and a plethora of other bills associated with being an independent black girl living on her own.

I remember driving home, trying to talk to myself away from being on the brink of a full on ugly cry in the car (I still ugly cried ya’ll…worst ugly cry of my existence), and asked God, “what are you trying to show me? I give up, let your will be done God.”

Another funny thing God does–he breaks you down, to build you up for something better.

And that was exactly what was happening to me. He stopped giving me what I “thought” I wanted, and started prepping me for what I needed.

Within a matter of days from that moment, God started leading me down a path I never wanted to go. He was pushing me to go into business for myself (kicking, screaming, and dragging I might add). I finally obliged and started sharing with my friends my choice to take the big entrepreneurial plunge. I guess I should have done it early because every time I shared the news I was met with elongated sighs and “finally, it’s about time.” Again, it’s funny how God works right?

Over the next couple months despite my worrying of how this was going to work out–blessings in the form of contracts seemed to come my way left and right. In March God opened the biggest door of all, when the Community College of Philadelphia sought me out as a contractor for a position I had applied to during college four years earlier. If that wasn’t God I don’t know what is.

As a new business owner, I have yet to market myself once, yet every month that $2,100 student loan payment, my rent, my car, my insurance, and the IRS have been paid. I’ve even had enough money to get crazy and buy stuff like gas and groceries…dare I say I’ve even frequented happy hour?

Despite God not coming through on my prayers, his plan for me has caused me to flourish in ways I never would have expected. I had to learn to be faithful to my faith even in fear, and that no matter what the end result would always be in my favor. So…

God didn’t deliver…and that’s okay; he blessed me nonetheless.

– Anonymous

Photo credit: Krissy Sheehan

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