Dear God, if there is anything distracting me from my purpose, remove it now.
It wasn’t a loud or long prayer. But those were the words. The next morning, I checked my Facebook account and couldn’t get in. I submitted a request for a password reset and waited. I tried several times over the next few hours, but it appeared my Facebook and Instagram accounts had been closed and permanently removed. I believe they were hacked. I submitted an appeal but was unsuccessful. Just like that, my 4,000 Facebook friends were gone.
A few friends urged me to fight for my account. I was tempted. I researched methods influencers previously used to back door their way into their accounts. But the elusive Facebook “Customer Service,” seemed to exist in a deep auto-response abyss. I didn’t feel compelled to push any further and let it go.
After a few days, I was less irritated, more curious. Then remembered that cursory prayer. Now, I’m not sure if this was God or not. But He allowed it and if I suspect God is up to something I pause. The only other thing I felt led to do was to set up a new account and add a few family and friends for emergency sake. (This was quarantine season). I missed many friends but realized we’d eventually connect. And it became painfully obvious, I wasn’t sure who half of those 4,000 people were. In some instances, I was merely accepting requests and adding numbers. (That’s a sermon right there, but we’re going to keep it moving). Regardless, I took this “social shutdown” as God’s strange, yet purposeful will. During my quiet time of meditation, the words “fresh start” dropped in my spirit. Wow.
A Fresh Start Indeed.
I know it took a minute to get here, but I thought the backstory was important. My “divine” social media shutdown was a reminder. God often jolts us into a shift or detaches us from people or things to get our attention. I was fine with that. Why? I was in survival mode, waving the white flag that appeared to be invisible. I was proactive about nothing and living on autopilot. In my defense, a lot had happened. My husband had gotten sick and in and out the hospital over a two-year period with multiple procedures. The result was an emotionally and spiritually drained me. I didn’t even have the time or energy to use the spa package my husband had gifted me during the holidays. A fresh start across the board was well in order.
I needed the world to stop so I could put parts of myself back together.
I’m no theologian, but I believe this was a season of divine disruption. The entire world seemed to be doing its’ thing, its’ way. But the pandemic was a holy and physical pause. This pandemic is such a dichotomy. On one hand we welcomed the slow down, the grace, quality time with family and divine rest. On the other end of the spectrum the sickness, death, loss of income has been devastating. Every norm has been interrupted and it has impacted us each in a personal way. I pray every day for the tide of this battle to turn. As we walk through this season, I am also aware this is a personal time of restoration, reflection, and spiritual renewal. Part of that journey has included finding “me” again. Of course, this is not the way I would have planned it, yet here we are. My goal is to come out on the other side of this pandemic better, stronger, healthier, wiser, and more purposeful than ever. I’m praying the same for, family and friends. In the meantime, I want to share some of the things that I’ve done to rediscover “me” in this quarantine season:
1. I Prayed
I knew immediately that I needed a personal word for this season. I am a believer, but I can
honestly say I was not reading the word and praying daily. It was more like, “Let me listen to a
sermon while speeding up the highway because I was disorganized and late…again.” I made daily
prayer, meditation, fasting and home worship a priority. My spiritual practice became joyful and
I felt more connected to God than ever. I felt that sweet spirit I’d been longing for and it flowed
throughout my day.
2. I spent quality time with my spouse
My husband and I ate our meals together. We prayed and talked more often than we had.
Our bond became stronger. We had sweet fellowship, but honest conversations. We still
had moments when we worked each other’s nerves (smile) but we navigated our quarantine
space with joy.
3. I moved my body
I rode my treadmill regularly. Worked out with my husband. I lifted weights, hit the punching bag, and dusted off some of those old workout DVDs. My husband temporarily set up a television in my unfurnished reading space. (insert side eye – smile) We put down exercise mats and did yoga, Brazilian dance videos and attempted to get through one of those Insanity workouts. So glad no one was there to witness that, but we had fun. We rode bikes in our neighborhood.
4. I laughed and cried
I allowed myself to feel every emotion in this season. I laughed at throwback television shows. I especially indulged in some of my favorite sitcoms from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.I looked through pictures, wrote in my journal and meditated on my ancestors. It had been a long time since I cried about anything. I had a couple of good “cleansing” cries. Those are prayers too.
5. I played in the sun
I gained a greater appreciation for my backyard. Although I don’t have a lot of outdoor furniture, I improvised. I had tons of blankets! So, picnics and falling asleep in the grass became a habit. I’d just lay there with my puppies, and a book. It’s amazing what you notice just taking in nature. Red birds chirping and butterflies fluttering called me back to God’s playground.
6. I ate healthy
My husband is an excellent cook so if I’d get the groceries, he would cook. No more fast food. By the way, he’s lost over 50 lbs. and doing well so healthy meals are on the menu. Fruits and veggies became our staples and we’re working on that vegan life! I took vitamins and stayed hydrated. I started a detox tea drinking ritual using beautiful dishes.
7. I limited communication
I made sure family was okay one way or another but outside of that I chilled. This season was personal. I was able to function without the energy and pressure of needing to be somewhere on someone else’s time. As an introvert this is 100% energizing.
8. I found inexpensive and simple joy
I purchased flowers. I nurtured plants and discovered 99 Cent store treats. A big sun hat. Badminton, bubbles, a new coffee mug; I treated myself to any little in-expensive gift that brought me joy.
9. I focused on a more sustainable lifestyle
I reaffirmed my commitment to less waste and environmentally friendly beauty and home products. I’m still doing regular purging and donating to Goodwill. Prior to the pandemic I relied on thrifting and had not purchased any new clothes since 2019 and don’t miss it. I’m not pressuring myself, just taking little steps for a healthier and cleaner environment. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my eye on a few sundresses but I have plenty to work with.
10. I went barefaced and stopped straightening my hair
I challenged myself to work with what nature gave me! Skincare has become my focus. I found simple fuss free hairstyles and focused on conditioning and minimal effort. I rediscovered my inner and outer glow. I started drinking more water for those hydration goals! I know how to beautify my diffused water!
11. I rewrote my personal mission statement
Prayer and meditation provide more clarity. I was able to reassess what was most important and seek a divine strategy to address it. My favorite mantra is, “Clear answers float over calm seas.” I identified what was and wasn’t working for my life. I took responsibility for less than stellar outcomes with grace. Then sought God for Holy help. I cleared out mental trash, recommitted to healthy mindsets and affirmations.
12. I started writing again
Writing had literally become painful. I felt like there was a block in my spirit keeping me from doing what I’d always loved and came so easy. In part, I know exhaustion was a factor. When I gave myself permission to rest it freed me to write. I removed the guilt and asked God to restore the vision He had for my life in this area. I prayed that the words would flow “Like rivers of living water.” I rededicated myself to my passion and its manifestation in accordance with God’s will. Discussed my specific goals with my husband and ask God to arrange my time and resources to meet those goals.
13. Speaking of rest…I did
Rest is and inside and outside job. Sometimes you must get to the heart of what is causing unrest. Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself? Feeding your spirit with a hustle mentality or bad energy? Drinking too much wine? Taking on the weight of other’s expectations? Taking on “assignments” that don’t belong to you? Only God and you know. Sis (or brother) do what it takes: Prayer, meditation, turning off your phone hours before you go to bed, making your bedroom a sanctuary, using a diffuser, saying no to the wrong things so you can do the right things for YOU, drinking warm milk, or just letting things go. Rest is available.
14. I gave myself permission to take it a day at a time
You probably noticed there was tons of advice on how to spend your time and money during the pandemic. Courses, books, career advice, everyone had something to say or sell. Many much needed, authentic and great offerings. However, one could easily get overwhelmed if not cranking out 50,000 words (if you are a writer), jumping in every course or attending every virtual conference. I realized each day required a reset and direction. Once I became clear on my goals during this season, I was able to identify my priorities. Don’t’ get me wrong, there are major resources being offered in this season. We just need discern each day what to do. Sometimes winning is just getting through the day. Sometimes it is knocking out that big project for the 9-to-5.Other times, it’s knocking out that word count on our next novel or filing that LLC. Give yourself peace of mind and a break. Do the best you can and partner with God on all your goals. He can cut through all the noise to let you know what works best for you.
15. started filling my gratitude jar…even in 2020
Gratitude is significant. I recall a sermon by Sarah Jakes Roberts when she urged us to give honor to our blessings each day. What does that look like? God, I honor you for the opportunity to earn income with the source you have provided. God, I honor you for my husband and the opportunity to build a life with my spouse. God, I give honor to the gift of writing and the ability to speak to the masses with your words. Up until a month or so ago, my gratitude jar sat empty. I started filling it with big and small gratitude moments. Seed time and harvest time is still happening in 2020. Don’t miss it.
I can’t say that I’m 100 percent there, but I can say I feel more like and recognize myself. The most important step for me was seeking God. A time of reflection and restoration may mean something different for everyone. But it is critical to seek God for your personal restoration plan. It is important to reclaim ourselves amid the seemingly chaotic outside world. We need to anchor ourselves in who God created us to be. Not who Facebook, Instagram or the world says we are. Those influences can be more powerful than we realize. Sometimes our answers and struggles begin with basic wisdom. The wisdom we often chase down with books, courses, people, and ideas. When all we have to do is spend time with God and maintain our relationship. It doesn’t mean there aren’t real world resources that won’t help us manifest true results. It just means it starts with Him. God can direct and streamline the process. He is not just concerned about our dreams; He is concerned with us. All of us. I hope something in this blog inspires you during this time. I pray that we all make it to the other side of this pandemic as the best version of ourselves: lighter, happier, and more on purpose than ever. But even more important, healthy and in our right minds.