Today I Chose Myself Over My Job

I have been working at this same job with the same people for almost 10 months now.

Only two people bothered to learn my name, Juaquina.

I come in on my days off, I work overtime almost every single day, I work hard.

When a family member died suddenly, no one bothered to check on me. Once I returned to work after the funeral, they worked me seven days straight.

I smile at everyone, and I make sure to provide a pleasant work experience with everyone who comes into contact with me.

Yesterday, my boss told (not asked) me to cancel two very important doctor’s appointments in order to come into work on my day off. That’s right, the day I was scheduled to be off and therefore decided to care for my own being was the day he told me that I had no choice but to come into work.

I did not argue. I did not respond. I simply made a decision to choose myself over a job that would replace me within a few days if I dropped dead tomorrow. These people don’t even respect me as a human enough to learn my name (which is unique but only three syllables). They want me to be available 24/7, 365 days a year, but is that even humanly possible? It is not.

I write this, because two weeks ago I said a prayer.

God, if you don’t want me to remain here don’t let me get comfortable at this job.

Well, stuff has been hitting the fan ever since, but this was truly a moment to remember. The day my supervisor told me to put my health and well-being second. If he would have asked me to come in, if he would have asked me to reschedule my appointments, I would have said yes. But he TOLD me to put my health second. He was mistaken to think my kindness meant I did not have the capability to advocate for myself.

Today I chose myself over my job. Tomorrow, I might not even have a job.

I believe in self-care. How can I preach that to ya’ll, if I wasn’t making myself a priority? I have to stand up for what I believe. I believe in hard work. However, I believe that before one can work hard, they must make sure their cup is full. They must care for their mental and physical well-being before they can efficiently pour their dedication into anything or anyone.

So, today I chose myself over my job. Today, I heard the response to the prayer mentioned above. Today, I was reaffirmed that I was made to do something different. My answer to God’s answer is…yes. I will be an entrepreneur. I will put self-care as a priority. I will take those frightening steps that will ultimately lead to me leaving the work force, and forging my own path.

Self-love is the best love, only second to God’s love.

 

Keep Creating

When I was six years old, I wrote my first poem. I remember the moment very vividly. I was standing in the driveway of my family’s home, when I looked into the sky. It appeared that a storm was approaching, and I could hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. That is when these words rose up from within me:

“What’s that I hear?

A thunderstorm near

Oh my dear”

These words may not seem significant to you, but they mean the world to me. This was the birthplace of my relationship with poetry/writing.

Before I had friends. Before I knew how to communicate with my family. Even before I knew God. There was poetry. Poetry is how I process and communicate with the world around me. I would even say it was the starting point of God’s pursuit of me. When I write, I wish I could say I was the source, but I am not. The words seem to just flow from deep parts within my nephash (soul) that even I haven’t fully experienced. It’s like giving birth.

Last week, I was both humbled and deeply inspired when asked to be a featured artist for an event. I did nothing to deserve that platform. I did not strive for it. I did not ask for it. Yet, it was offered to me by people who could see my art even when I was not creating. I was blessed with the opportunity to display my short film and perform my poetry.

It felt like a dream the entire night. Even as I recited the poem I had rehearsed all week, I could not understand how I had grabbed the attention of everyone sitting in the bar. I could not believe they cared and related to the words of the piece, and I still can’t. However, God wanted to show me what He had been telling me all along.

I am a writer. 

He wants me to create. He wants me to be a storyteller. He did, in fact, place this gift inside of me. My poems are not in vain, and they do matter. They are part of my light. I always believed I was placed here to do great things, but after life knocked me down for seven years in a row, I was starting to think it was just a fantasy. But it’s not. It’s very real. I believe God let me go through the journey I have been on, because he wanted me to remain humble. He wanted to teach me that it will not happen by my strength but by His alone. Everything He promised will happen, but only because of His power. Yes, I still have to be obedient, but I don’t have to map out every detail of my life. Besides, our humanly plans never seem to work out anyways. Instead, I must always recognize that God is in control.

I did nothing to deserve that stage, but God gave it to me. I choose to believe this is only the beginning. I am a writer. I am a poetess. My words matter. I have a story inside of me that only I can tell. All I have to do is…

…keep creating.

The rest is up to God…

…and I think I’m in good hands.

Exodus

I’m in the part of my journey no one will clap for; I am experiencing a wide range of emotions that no one will notice. When my shoulders slump over and my head droops, no one seems to care.

It’s an internal conflict.

I have been arguing with God lately. Not the most devout thing I have written, but ya’ll don’t expect that from me anyways. I have given him attitude and I have folded my arms in protest. He has been speaking…A LOT. Unfortunately, He hasn’t been saying things I have wanted to hear.

Yes, He still speaks life and speaks of a glorious future to come, but now, as I begin the journey, he is bringing me to the edge of the promise land. He is showing me the giants and telling me He won’t remove them all at once, but slowly. [Deuteronomy 7:22]

He is giving me a speech that I will indeed inherit the land, but my mind grows suspicious when he repeats the phrase “Be strong and courageous.” [Joshua 1:6-9]

What is happening Jesus?

I told God that I wanted to live at an optimum level inside of His will. I want to reach my fullest potential. I don’t want anything that He wanted me to accomplish to go unattended to at my funeral. I want to see all He wants me to see. I want to do all He wants me to do. I want to sacrifice, and love, and be successful. I want to be successful!! I want to experience all the promises spoken over my life before I was even born. I want to experience financial freedom. I want to minister to people I will never meet through my writing. I WANT THE DESIRES OF MY HEART.

And I went through a celebratory moment when God said, “Okay. It is done.” When He woke me in the middle of the night to tell me He loves me. When He repeated promises I had forgotten about. When He said it all belongs to me and this is the time everything will begin to shift into place.

But now, (excuse my french) I’m mad as hell. Because now, I find myself on the run. I find myself hiding in caves. I find myself being hunted down by the people I trusted most. I find myself alone. I find myself in a constant state of battle. [The entire life of David]

God, this feels like war.

The words I hear God saying now are “Life is hard,” “This will be tough, but I will get you through,” “Hard work is not a bad thing.” (yes God had to remind me that hard work won’t kill me). But I am yelling “GOD TAKE AWAY THESE THORNS!” The crown I longed for is starting to feel more like a punishment. I am now barely grasping how much courage it had to take Jesus to pray for God’s will to be done in the garden as I find myself struggling to say the same. [Luke 22:42]

This is the part no one claps for, no one notices.

When God delivered the Israelites out of slavery, they didn’t know they were going into war. Stop judging them. Their journey was a tough one. No one claps for them in Exodus, but what they experienced was real. It was hard. It was an everyday battle. The life I’m living is real. It’s hard. Its an everyday battle. However unlike the Israelites, I will not run from the land of giants.

I’m going to take what already belongs to me.

I’m ready to fight, are you?

 

A Lesson From This Season

Sometimes it’s okay to just rest. Yes we are a community of creatives. But always remember you are human first. You own your talents. Your talents do not own you. You should not feel like a slave to your gifts.

And it is okay to go through seasons where you are not creating much. It is okay to just be you for a while. You are you and you are enough with or without your gifts.

Identity

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Source: Unknown

The balance of humility and confidence is what I struggle to achieve. It seems like a constant compromise to either self-deprecate or walk with arrogance. I am learning that having a solid knowledge of who I am will keep me from wandering to either extremes. So, where does my identity come from? It comes from the Lord. I am His child. I am loved. and I am royalty. Everything else is a small detail. This is the foundation I build upon on this lifelong journey of discovery. 

-Juaquina She

 

Always Remember…

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Photocred: Me. Juaquina Carter

I am like this plant.

Growing where they told me I couldn’t

Through the darkness

Flourishing where there is no soil

Where there was once concrete ceilings

I must have saw opportunity

My existence is a miracle

Not to be taken for granted

For where there is life

There is a purpose

Do you hear that, self?

Where there is breath

There is life

And where there is life

There is purpose.

So don’t forget that you are

Something rare

Something phenomenal

Alive.

 

Last night I tried to stop breathing, but the beat in my soul would not let me. I wanted permission to escape from the prison I don’t belong in. This confinement was starting to feel like home, and that disturbed me. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to break down the walls and free myself from oppression.

Suicidal thoughts…

…begin to sound like freedom when you have lived your life in chains. I was desperate enough to answer a call from the devil. I wanted to be happy again. But how can I use satan’s plan to get to God’s glory?

I cannot.

So, I fell into a hole not meant for living. And it is in here, I find what heals me.

The darkness is so deep, it swallows my thoughts and never spits them back out. I am afraid to even move my arm, because I do not know what surrounds me. The light came on, and all I see is blackness. A mysterious hue blocking all ambition and energy. God exposed what I was creating, what I was living. And I realize, I cannot use my own strength to get out of a castle made of sand.

“Be still.”

The duality of the moment is perplexing. Here I am, in my own sin, in my own healing. I quietly wait in the darkness while God does things I cannot see. I thought I had run out of faith, but I guess this is what it practically looks like to obtain it. Running to the ends of yourself, and having nothing to rely on except…..Jesus.

He said all I needed was a mustard seed, but I didn’t have that. So, I prayed for it. He wants all of my heart, my mind, and my soul, but I lost those down here in this pit. So, I asked him to help me find them.

He is taking me through a process that will not be over in a night. I will not bounce back in a week. Nor will I be ready for relationship in a month. No, this takes a commitment so strong, I have to give it a new name.

Covenant.

Something so powerful, it uses time its tool. God will not be rushed. And I will not be moved. We will sit here together.

I, in the mysterious shadows, will be still. I will slowly realize the the chains I could not see. I will hear them rattle every time I try to solve my own problems by ignoring them. Then I will be reminded I am still in the process.

And God? He will be faithful. He will be present. He will be working. For where I cannot see, he knows perfectly. He will bring me what I need. I must only rest. He will give me the key. He will remove the chains I placed on myself. He will teach me to stand again. He will teach me to walk again. He will teach me to live again. In truth. And as a result, I will know that…

He is God. 

And through Him,

I am alive.

Dead.

Photographer: Unknown

I had not realized the rabbit hole I climbed into until I was nearing the bottom. When you fall that gracefully, it leaves you wondering how you got there. I was confused to feel my body hit the ground so suddenly.

The earth shook.

Something inside of me broke off.

I lay there for a while looking at the empty space surrounding me. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. For my body to adjust to the pain. For my skin to adjust to the bruising.

This was my death.

I wanted to stand again, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy to lift myself up. I wanted to search for some meaning. I wanted to find a way out. My mind wouldn’t allow me to delve into these desires. Instead, I just experienced pain.The pain from the fall resonated through my entire being. A part of me was touched that was only meant for the hands of God. And she wept.

For days. For weeks. For months.

An entire season of rain passed through the desert land of my heart, but my soil was not watered. The seeds of love drowned inside of what was supposed to make them grow.

This was my funeral.

I could not open my lips to pray. I did not ask God to save me; I did not have the energy to reach for Him.

Instead, God came to me.

Rest.” That was first word I heard. The only one that sat on my ears for a while. Then more came…

I love you.

Confusion on how a God can love someone who causes themselves harm filled my mind, but my response got lost in my exhaustion. So I rested. And I allowed God’s love to cover me like a blanket.

Except this was not a blanket meant for sleeping. It was one of restoration and of life.


To be continued.