I had an amazing visit with a dear friend this past week. You may remember me discussing my ex roommate-turned friend-turned lifelong sister, Lianna. At one point, we were even co workers when God used her to send me my very first bookkeeping client! Talk about a divine connection! I thoroughly enjoyed her visit because she is so free from the typical ignorance and prejudices that plague many when they are dealing with people from a different race. When I look at Lianna, I don’t see race, and she doesn’t either. Only love, and laughter, and friendship.
I love how God shows up with us in the ways that are tailor-made to our identity in Him. I was reminded of that when I was with Lianna, and these miscellaneous dancers were “getting it” at the beach to a variety of hip-hop, urban beats. They were brown-skinned and moving their bodies like they were on the coast of Africa surrounded by tribal men and women. We oohed and awed at back flips over bare pavement as they amazed us with fluid motions shivering throughout the limbs of their flexible bodies. We were under their spell.
It was a sight to see, and I told Lianna that as many times as I have been to that beach I had never seen such a thing. God did it just for her.
We talked about other stuff too that day and one particular conversation stands out to me. It was about success. I admitted to her that I did not feel successful, to which she met me with wide open blue eyes. I am 6 years her senior and have had the benefit of obtaining certain accomplishments as a result. In hindsight, I realize that my definition of success was based on where I want to be, not necessarily where I had already been. Can you relate? I want to be sustainable with my businesses. I want to be married with children. I want to be able to say that I have completed the list of items on my life’s checklist. But I am still in process in these areas. I am still waiting.
However, looking back, I can see the accomplishments. I can see the fruit that has come from previous waiting, and I know that there is reaping in due time (Gal 6:9). I think the issue has been that I have minimized my successes because I didn’t necessarily cause them directly. There was a word God had given me a while back and it was “Seek you first His kingdom and all of these things will be added to you”. So that’s what I did. I sought, and He added.
I think as a result, I don’t feel like I can take credit per se for my accomplishments. On the one hand, I think that is a very good thing. If I were my 20-something-year-old self, I would have taken full credit. I would have boasted in my intellect, in my natural discipline and drive. But even though humility is a necessity for God to get his credit, I think I flipped it, and went to the whole other side of things. I minimized these accomplishments. Waved them away like a fly on a hot summer day, and as a result, felt more like a failure of things.
Can I tell you something? Even with this revelation, I STILL feel like a failure. I was told recently (more than once actually) that I am an overachiever. I never considered such a thing. To me, what I was doing was “normal”. Writing books and building businesses and getting degrees. Well, these were all “normal” things. But part of that is because I am surrounded by so many who have similar life experiences. And part of it is because I view these things as apart of my calling. I still do not consider myself an overachiever per se. I like to think of myself with a call to do a lot of things. I come from a long line of people who did not get the opportunities that I have received. I know well the sacrifices the previous generations made for me. As I’ve shared in my previous writings, I am the writer for those who couldn’t read. The voice for those who couldn’t speak, so I feel the mantle to produce and to produce well. Whether that is in my writing, or in music, or in education. I want to be a good steward of the gifts that have been put inside of me. And there are many…
I met a man recently who is quite clearly a Renaissaince man. In my time with him I was reminded that that was a word I myself had received in the past. I also am a Renaissance woman of sorts, but on the daily it does not feel that way. On the daily I am sowing and grinding and trying to build something sustainable. I am hoping that the stirrings in my heart are somehow divine and not just figments of my imagination. I am longing to see the fruition of long awaited dreams and desires. Not the ones that come from my ancestors, but the ones that come from me.
In reflecting on my conversation with my friend I realize the need for a balanced perspective. I am not necessarily where I want to be, but I surely am not still where I have been. And that, I am certain, is definite success.
How do you define success? Can you see areas of growth, healing and maturity in your journey? Feel free to share in the comments below!
If you have not checked out my website yet, you can do so here: nicoledmiller.com. Books are now available for order! And if you read and enjoy “Stories for the (Urban) Soul” please review on Amazon!
Additionally, I was blessed to have my first pop up yesterday and was pleasantly surprised when a childhood friend stopped by…
I also am gearing up for a larger event being held at the “Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Expo” if you can make it!
AND if you are in the area, here is another pop up I’ll be signing books at!