The Exception

I have a friend who notices patterns.  He’s pretty analytical and I like that about him.  I too notice patterns.  I’ve noticed that I attract certain personality types.  I’ve taken a few personality tests and know that my personality tends to be more “melancholy”. As a result I attract the opposite personality type in my close circle of friends.  That would be “the sanguine”.  Sanguines are upbeat and positive.  They tend to see the glass as half full even when its half empty.  I have noticed that in both friendships and dating relationships in my life the Sanguines are there in full form.

But recently I’ve attracted someone even more melancholy than myself.  That forces me to be “the sanguine one”.  Now its not that I’m never upbeat or happy or positive, its just that I’m used to taking the more serious, analytical, deep thinking role in my close relationships.  So it surprised me that I would become close to someone whose personality did not fit the mold of my close circle.  That’s when I remembered that I had one very close friend who also did not fit that mold.  She too is “melancholy”.

And as I thought about it, I remembered a saying my new friend says often.  As much as he likes patterns he says that there are always exceptions.

At the end of the movie, He’s Just Not That Into You the main character finally gives up on this exciting, romantic, passion filled love and settles for the safe, dependable, responsible relationship.  She was told by another character that she was “the rule” and the rule did not get the kind of love she dreamed of.  But at the end of the movie that same character pursues her.  He lets down his guard and bears his soul.  She looks at him hesitantly, unsure of weather or not she should trust his display of affection.  After all, he was the one who coached her through the whole movie about men and how she couldn’t believe they were really interested in her because of their lack of pursuit.  So she says to him, “I thought that I was the rule.  You said that I was the rule.”  And he reaches for her, leans in and counters her statement.  “I was wrong.  I was wrong, you are not the rule.  You are the exception.  You are my exception.”

There have been a surprising turn of events these last few months in my life.  I’ve allowed myself to be open and being open makes room for new people to come in.  I have followed a set of ideas and ways for most of my spiritual journey and I’m not throwing it all out the window but I see the need for change.  I’ve felt it this past year.

So instead of choosing the rule, I’m now choosing the exception.

My exception.

SHALOM

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Dating Has Purpose

Once upon a time I believed I could not and would not date.  If dating was the antonym of courtship, then I chose courtship.  I even share this in my first book.  But then things changed.  I changed.  The years rolled on and I found myself walking out what my friends and I call, “extended singleness” (dun-dun-dun).

God says very clearly in the opening book of His Word, “It is not good for man to be alone”.  Then He brings Adam a help mate.  We can interpret that statement many ways.  Was He saying it’s not good for man to be without a spouse?  Or was it not good for man to be without a community in general?  If the latter, then why wouldn’t He just create a community (a group of people who can support and relate to Adam) instead of a spouse?  But let’s not get too far off topic.  Having a theological discussion is not my intent.  I simply want to share how my ideas on dating have morphed…

This last year has been interesting.  Early at the beginning of it I ran into “the ex”. You know the person it didn’t work out with but it was so significant that now they own a piece of your history and even a title: “the ex” (dun-dun-dun).  So I ran into the ex.  And he had a date.  And I was feeling some kind of way about that.  Because I myself did not have a date.  Instead I had a friend.  (AKA, I had community). So I let Jesus know I felt some kind of way about that.  It involved some tears and venting and frustration on my part.  Which is nothing new for Him because I feel that’s the benefit of being His kid.  We can be REAL.  Even when REAL isn’t as pretty as we want it to be.  So I vented, and the response I got was, “I am already moving”.  Hmmm, what does that mean? I wondered.  Well that was early 2017, and here I am at the end of 2017 and I think I have an idea of what He meant:

In the course of this year I have had more dates and dating activity than I have had in the whole 13 years of my singleness.  I can’t say that they were all positive experiences.  There were definitely times He had to deliver me from my foolishness and heal me from my pain, but there was movement nonetheless.

I talked to a friend recently and his experience of singleness has been the opposite of mine.  He has spent most of it dating and now he just wants courtship.  He wants to just meet the person, commit to them and get married.  In a perfect world I think that is ideal.  But we do not live in a perfect world.

As one who spent most of their singleness not dating and being a proponent of courtship I told him I see the benefits of dating.  Dating teaches social skills.  Dating teaches you about the opposite sex.  Dating, if done with respect, can help both parties develop emotionally, mentally and maybe even spiritually.

I look back on this last year and I think of the joy I had when I was pursued.  It was affirming.  I got to see how men rise to the occasion when they see a woman of value.  It was a reminder that I am a woman of value.  I got to enjoy companionship from the opposite sex.  I got to learn more about a man’s world which can be very different from a woman’s.  And I also got to see the Father’s desire to give me good gifts.  Even when He knows I will ruin them.

In the garden Elohim tells Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He tells him this knowing he will do it anyway.  Knowing that once he does he will have to be kicked out of the garden.  But for a period of time Adam and Eve enjoy the garden.  They enjoy the gift.  In my own life I can see how the Father gave the gift knowing that it wouldn’t last and I think He did that because the joy I experienced in the interim was so great it outweighed the grief that would eventually entail.  That speaks to me how much our joy means to the Father.  As difficult as this path has been for me I can see many times where He has brought me joy in the midst of it.

Dating has had purpose in this season of my life.  I have not expected it too.  I did not think I would be one who would date.  I also did not think I would be single this long.  But alas, life is never how we think it will be and the evolution of who we are continues to unfold as the years go by.  At least, I hope for me that is the case.

My inner circle is changing.  I have close friends moving into different stages of life while I stay in this one.  And in the midst of the pain I experience from these changes I see the Father’s compassion.  He has never left me alone.  There are many times I feel alone however I have never lacked in the area of companionship these 13 years.

One of my very good friends confided in me about how difficult this season has been for her, especially around the holidays.  In the midst of our conversation she realized it was in part due to a lack of friendship.  Yes she had community, but she did not have peers who were in the same season who could empathize with her pain.  I have had that in abundance and talking to her made me even more grateful for this gift.

It is not good for man to be alone.  Thankfully I have yet to have that experience.

SHALOM

Time, Music and Loved Ones

Last night I had a blast with some good friends at a 90’s throwback concert.  It was a last minute, spur of the moment sort of thing but it had been on my radar for months.  I have been trying to have a good concert experience for years now and finally I got my wish.  We belted at the top of our lungs and swayed to all the popular songs.  We cheered on the artists and reminisced about “back in the day”.  I really enjoyed that many of the artists did cover songs and tributes to other artists who were not actually performing.  It made me feel like they had the same experience growing up that I did with music and those songs meant the world to them too.

I was even more blessed to get to see one of my besties who decided to make the four hour drive and witness what may be a once in lifetime event.  We were only able to spend a few moments together but seeing her is just a reminder of how blessed in the friendship department I really am.  15 years strong…

She is a teacher and actually ran into a former student at the concert.  You know you are getting up there when the 22 year old sitting next to you is your best friend’s former student.  How does that happen?  And where does the time go?

Time seems to stand still in my waiting but hurry fast when I’m not.  I look back and see the painful moments of surrender but also have to admit the pain does not ever last.  More and more I am aware of how temporary this life is and how fast moments go.  I guess the test is to not believe the lies of the difficult moments.  It also feels like it will never end but it always does.

Last weekend I got to spend time with my god daughter.  We made gingerbread houses and played cards all night.  She sits up front in the car with me now which has never happened and she is almost just as tall as I am.  I kept having flashbacks of when she was three, sitting in the backseat and I was taking her to one event or another.  The preteen years are now here…

That same weekend I went to a friend’s birthday party.  She just turned 50.  I thought about how fast 50 will come for me, if I am afforded those years.  I thought about time again and how it seems so slow but flies by.  I think it is a mystery that God created.

I’m preparing to make a difficult decision soon and go into another period of transition.  I recognize the cycles in my life and though I don’t think it’s wise to project the past into the future, it gets hard not to sometimes.

There are new things happening though for people I love and that is both good and weird.

Life is both good and weird.

I think the mid 30s are teaching me that.

SHALOM

When Your Best Friend Gets Married

My best friend got engaged.  We knew it was coming but then again we didn’t.  We talked about the possibilities and played out the scenarios but nothing makes it real until it really happens.  Well it really happened.

And all of a sudden, memories of our shared singlehood flash across my minds’ eye.

Like that time we laid in bed giggling all night about her then boyfriend and the possibility of them getting married (they didn’t by the way).  Or the time we lay in bed on my trip to her beloved Haiti sharing the sorrows we had of walking out extended singleness. I prayed for her that night, feeling the weight of her longing and pain.  I had such an amazing time during my visit.  If only I would have known that would be the last one, where she would be–well–alone.

Or the time she turned one of those early 30’s numbers and I talked to her for 2 hours on the phone (because she was in another country and that’s all I could do) about how God was trustworthy, and extended singleness was hard, but He was still good.  Only a few years later would her season change.  But we didn’t know that at the time…

I never knew this woman would become so dear to me.  She entered my life when things were questionable and I didn’t think I needed any more friends.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I have needed her desperately especially in this season.  I have needed her to intercede for me and war when I couldn’t remember my own identity.  When I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the face staring back.  I needed her to call me each morning when I was recovering from one breakup or another.  I needed to hear her voice when I no longer could hear the voice of our Father, and I questioned His existence…

She was faithful.  Faithful to be with me regardless of my choices and decisions.  Faithful when I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going.  We walked out a difficult time, but our sisterhood added sweetness to it.

We are like minded.  We have similar values and a similar desire to manifest true wholeness.  We share a call to stand out and be set apart in this generation.  And for the first time since we met (a nice summer day in 2007 that we both remember) we are in different seasons.  Very different seasons.

God is purposeful.  And I believe each season is to prepare us for the next season.

This has been a season where He has not ministered to me directly by His Spirit.  Instead He has used people and circumstances to reveal Himself.  She is one of those people He has chosen over and over again to do so.  Her pureness of heart, vivacious appetite for life and fierce loyalty are character traits I admire and am not deserving of.

When your best friend gets married you have a host of emotions.  SO much change.  So little time.  The time you waited for has finally come, but when it comes, it comes suddenly.  It is a reminder that seasons do change.  And that we must cherish them while they are here for that very reason.

When your best friend gets married, you wish her the best because she is so worth the best.  You are reminded that as similar as you are, and as close as you have been, you are still two different people.  I have my path and she has hers.  And God willing, we will still walk together on this path of life.

Congratulations to a woman who has been more than a friend to me.  She has truly been a sister.

Always rooting for you Ji❤️.

Love,

Nicole

The Problem With Stereotypes

About a month ago I took a poetry workshop downtown. I love how my city offers these free opportunities to learn and grow in writing and I find it interesting that I have a gift of writing poetry. I never thought of myself as a poet. I never thought of myself as a writer either…

At the workshop I made note, it was a diverse group. A mixture of blacks and whites, young and old. Then the facilitator came. She was late and entered with her body mostly hidden behind an occupied stroller. She was dressed in jeans and an old Tee and I was surprised she was the teacher. There was a young man in the group who seemed to be “off” and I figured he had a mental illness. There was another woman in the group, older, black and talkative. She told a lot of jokes and seemed (in my opinion) a little “off” as well. I made a conscious decision to be open and receive because I know from experience God can use anyone. We shared our writings and our hearts and the man who I thought was “off” was actually pretty “on”. Turns out he had a syndrome that caused him to seem different but he was intelligent and articulate and his poem revealed the gift that he is to the world. The woman who was talkative brought me to tears with her heartfelt letter to the Lord and I feel myself tearing up right now at the memory.

And our instructor, who appeared to be uneducated (in my opinion) was very knowledgeable and skilled in her craft.

I recognized the Father showing me my own stereotypes in this group and how inaccurate they can be.

I too was being stereotyped. I was dressed in a collared shirt and showed up with my mac computer while everyone else had pen and paper. The instructor made comments about my preferences and social life. I knew that she thought I was “middle class” and did not really know my story. On paper I’m sure it would look the way she assumed…

I recently met a man who challenged more of my thinking. In this climate of racial tension and social injustice I thought those who would be most aware (or “woke”) and sympathetic to these issues would need to share the same color of my own skin. Certainly they would not come from “privileged families”. But then I met him and he did have that background but had a heart to help urban communities heal and transform. We spent 2 hours talking about such things and I realized I had misjudged him.

In my career I have always been favored. I have always been “seen” and valued for who I am eternally. But then I wasn’t. I was met with the stereotype and a picture was painted of me that couldn’t be further from the truth. I learned a valuable lesson that day, when someone doesn’t know you they can easily misjudge you.

The problem with stereotypes is that they keep us from getting to know the true identity of someone. We like to categorize and put people in boxes because it makes us feel more comfortable, but sometimes those boxes limit us in expanding our mindset and views. We miss out on opportunities to learn and evolve as a result of interacting with someone who is different.

It’s easy to fall into using stereotypes. It’s kind of our default. But the Father has intentionally made us all diverse because He is diverse. And I believe the only was to truly see Him is when we all express our diversity.

I look forward to that day of seeing every tribe and every tongue worship together the One Eternal Being who created them. It will surely be a sight to see.

Revelations7:9

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

In other news, congratulations to my best friend who recently got engaged!!! More to come on that front😊😉. #newseasons…

SHALOM

The Process


Definition of process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Yesterday at fellowship (our weekly spiritual gathering) my pastor asked what the definition of process was. It is discussed in our latest lesson and the first word that came to me was “stages”. “It’s developmental stages,” I said. He nodded his head in fond agreement–because he is more of a father than a pastor–and proceeded to read the real definition (listed above). I  was close. We talked about the “means” of a process being a vehicle and it’s pretty clear to me God has used and continues to use processes in my life (and I’m sure in yours) to bring about an intended purpose.

Every month I go through a process at work. For almost a year now I have been battling in this process. It has been so intense it has felt like labor. But my personality is one that loves a good challenge so even though I get stressed out and overwhelmed I strive to complete the process. And do better next time. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of significant time you know my career has always been a process. Doors do not open easily and usually only after a lengthy waiting period. As a result I’ve probably valued them (open doors) a little more than I would have otherwise (and even do I dare to say a little more than those who get opportunities easily.) So I have tried and tried to endure this process and achieve success by my own terms. Not in comparison to someone else’s ability (who would probably find my process less difficult) but in comparison to my former self.

Then there is the process of my love life. Again, lots of waiting. I shared with my pastors yesterday my frustration/anger at the process. They nodded in understanding. They are good people. They have walked with God over 40 years and still are able to empathize with my little struggles.

I don’t know what my future holds concerning these current processes, I only know the Father has been faithful to order my steps. He knows me through and through. 

I trust Him to have mercy where I need mercy and grace where I need grace.

In other news, some good times lately…


Shalom.

Processing Singleness


Hello there!  I am so excited to share a piece I wrote this summer that has been featured on Permission To Write’s online journal!:

I walk in from the rain and glance inside the trendy restaurant to the table by the window.  It’s surprisingly busy for a weekday.  I’m playing hookie from work and I wonder what the heck everyone else is doing.  Instead of seeing the black couple engaging in conversation, I see my friend sitting across from me sometime last year. A fellow single woman in her mid 30s with brown hair and a kind heart. It was spring and we talked about the summer and what kind of outfits would flatter her pear-shaped figure. I offered my services because, for some reason, turning 30 made me a fashionista. Then we moved on to men. Where were they?

Please click on this link and turn to page 11 if you are interested in reading more!

Thank you!

 

SHALOM