It’s strange every time I see him now every once in awhile because it usually consists of a quick wave and maybe a half-smile. And if we’re in the same room, then minimal to no eye contact is usually made. But for a good solid season of my life, he was there. And somehow, he had become my cheerleader. He was the one who supported my dreams, encouraged my endeavors, and probably believed in me more than I believed in myself. I precisely remember one night we were chatting in his kitchen. He had just come home from work and there I was stirring up a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. He asked me how my day was, and I just stood there flustered. It wasn’t so much the day I had, as much as it was the questioning and the agonizing and the straight confusion and thoughts stringing through my mind line after line like a giant novel of run on sentences with what I had been feeling for a few years. I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but I’m positive my response consisted of a whole lot of words, with a mountain full of “I don’t knows” and for sure I would bet I said something about how I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, and that I felt so behind on it, like I was running out of time. That’s probably one of the things I appreciated most about him. He would listen. And then after my twenty-minute rant session, he’d challenge me in the good kind of way. This night was no different, so of course after quietly listening, he responded with:
Give yourself time.
My instant reaction when those words came out of his mouth was that I didn’t have time. Everyone else around me seemed like they were progressing. Getting married. Having babies. Buying houses and sweet new rides. And here I was feeling like I was just scraping by with a destination but not finding the right roads to get there. It was a choice between getting it together now, and getting it together now. I couldn’t waste time let alone give myself more time. It was as if there was urgency, and I needed and wanted to reach these goals I had set for myself that very night. If things weren’t going to happen for me that night, then maybe I’d be okay for it to happen by the next morning.
The funny thing is: All we have IS time.
People always say things like: don’t wait, don’t waste time, you only have much so time in your life to do something worth. But that’s the thing, we have our whole lives to grow and sometimes, it is okay to take longer to get to where you want to go. To all you Californians who constantly make trips up and down, from Northern to Southern California or vice versa: you know what I mean when I say that sometimes you take the 5. But then there are other times you just want to take the 101 or slowly curve up the coast on PCH. Despite which route you take, you’ll eventually end up where you’re supposed to be. The important thing is to enjoy the road. It is very okay to stop and take a photograph or two. It is okay to pull your car over and wait for sunset. But it is also okay to straight shot it.
I think we tend to be more dramatic in our brains than what life really puts out to be. We think things like: if I’m not married with my six figure dream job, and I don’t have two children by the time I’m 27 then I have basically wasted my life away, and life is over. I’ve failed. Reality check. You’re still breathing and you still have a heartbeat, so no, it is not over. And also, what about all the other accomplishments you’ve left off of your resume or the people you’ve touched and left positive marks on? Those must count for something.
Give yourself grace.
I think this one was harder to swallow than him telling me I needed to give myself more time. Because grace is the hardest thing you can show yourself. We, as humans, are our own worst critics. Sometimes I think if we talked to our friends the ways we talked to ourselves, or judged our friends the way we judged or viewed ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have any friends at all. We can be so harsh towards ourselves sometimes, and set these expectations we are unable to meet. And when those expectations aren’t met, it’s like we proceed to corner ourselves and then we start hurling hard punches into our own flesh.
Give yourself at least another five years.
Five freaking years? Hell to the no. That’s like four years and three hundred and sixty four days too long. But in retrospect, I think he was right. Maybe not precisely five years, but the idea here is that progress is sometimes slow. Progress is not meant to happen overnight. In fact, I don’t remember anything good ever happening for me overnight, especially in the industries I am in. Everything has led up to another, like a domino effect. Things (surroundings and situations) change with time. YOU change with time. And every decision you make or step you take somehow allows you to grow and progress in ways you most likely would not have if things were to have happened overnight. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I know exactly what I’m doing, or have life all figured out either…
But what I think God does, is that he uses the decisions that we make to constantly teach us something. He uses them to draw us closer to Him. He uses them to build character, and to essentially make us better humans so that we can be better versions of who we were created to be. I truly believe God’s mission for our lives includes being less absorbed and less negative with who we are and our thoughts about ourselves. If we’d just take a moment to step away from our own headspace then maybe we would be much happier, and we’d realize that the world really doesn’t revolve around us.
The thing is: we are not in high school anymore, and this life is not a popularity contest.
Okay, maybe some of you readers are actually still in high school so maybe in five years you’ll get what I mean…
The point is that we can’t treat life like it is a race against other people, and we sure as hell cannot play the game of comparison. Maybe it’s just me being super sick of seeing people sitting on their high man made thrones, sipping on their kool-aid looking down on the rest of the world like they are greater than thou. Just because someone’s been on television, or has a few extra zeros after some sort of number in their bank accounts, or has 20k followers on Instagram, or has recorded a crap ton of albums does not make them more superior. None of those things make anyone a better person than another. It’s really disappointing when I see things like that happen. And man, have I seen a lot of that happen in the places I am at, and I also have personally experienced it myself.
As blunt as I can put it: people like that are simply not worth your time, your investment, and they sure as hell don’t deserve to get to know you. I don’t care who they are. If they cannot treat other humans like humans, then ain’t nobody got time to be disrespected like that. Know your value. Know that it is not based on what you do, how much money you make, your fan base, your net worth, or your connections.
Good things come to those who wait.
I truly believe this. Sometimes those “good things” aren’t necessarily what you think they are, but they will be good. Try finding contentment with where you are currently; you’ll find that it makes life a whole lot easier to live even if you are pushing for something more. In fact, it is always awesome to want to push for more but the key thing is to not feel like you are lacking. Because, you really aren’t.
We make decisions. We move forward. We allow time to do its part.
And God, because He is good, never leaves us stranded in the decisions we make. Sometimes, painful things come for the sake of refinement and transformation. But believe me when I say that you are never left alone. God doesn’t ding dong ditch or dine and dash, leaving you with the entire bill. There is better, and He is persistently working things out in you and the universe to get you there—to that better somewhere.
Life is hard. It really is. But I think that’s what life is. It’s a chance to constantly move towards better, and it’s a chance to see the better flow out of people, so like stars, they can each shine on their own.