It started with Whitney.
My older brother called me and said, “Turn to MSNBC now. Whitney Houston is dead.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Even as I saw the images on my television screen, I couldn’t believe it. My mind wouldn’t accept it. How could a beautiful, successful woman that is my age with a daughter the same age as mine, who is laughing and singing one day be dead the next day?
Then I attended a panel discussion for Black History Month which featured four African American women who are at the top of their fields in Education, Defense and Business. They discussed how they got started and shared their insights on how to “get there and stay there”. I was so moved by their honesty and obvious integrity. Some of the themes were:
• Having a strong sense of self
• Being bold
• Not compromising
• Being courageous
• Know the rules of the game
• Picking the hill you wanna die on (i.e. choosing your battles)
• Having a goal and making sure that it is actually yours
• Work with someone who is smarter than you
• Not letting the biases of others dictate what you can accomplish
• None of us are victims. We each face unique obstacles because of our
race/gender but we can decide how to respond
• Mentorship is extremely important
• The importance of building relationships
The discussion was powerful and I walked away feeling both motivated and a little sad. The women on the panel were incredibly smart and successful yet their beginnings weren’t much different than my own and I was just so … ordinary. Where had I gone wrong?
Finally, I watched the Oprah interview with Viola Davis. First of all, I believe that interview was the best interview Oprah has ever conducted. Viola Davis is so honest and so talented and so centered. I love love love her. I hung on her every word. One part of the interview that resonated with me was when she talked about her 11 minutes on screen with Meryl Streep in the film “Doubt”. Viola said that she knew she deserved to be standing next to Meryl Streep, not because she was as good as Meryl, but because she had done the work. She had received her degree in Theater and she had been working for more than 20 years. And even though she was only on screen for 11 minutes she earned that Oscar nomination. Viola knew at an early age what she wanted to do and she followed that path to success. Despite her poor beginnings she knew how to dream big.
I think I was crying during the entire conversation. I began to think about Whitney and the four women on the panel and now Viola and I was so proud to be part of the family of Black women but at the same time I couldn’t help but feel that somehow I had fallen short. Why didn't I ever learn how to dream big? What was wrong with me? I’ve been praying constantly and seeking God and asking him to show me my purpose. But what do you do when God seems to be silent? I fell asleep that night with a heavy heart and plenty on my mind.
I woke up the next morning still feeling a little wonky and then the Holy Spirit spoke:
Through the mercies of God we are not consumed because his compassions fail not; they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23)
I remembered that God is faithful. He has never left me. What He has for me is for me and He will reveal it to me in His timing.
I just wanted to share this with anyone who may also be restless and waiting for the next thing. Wait on God. Trust His timing. Remember that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. So, while you are waiting you are getting stronger.
And what is wrong with that?