2014 has been a whirl wind year for me. In less than 365 days, I’ve experienced the highest mountain tops as well as the lowest valleys. On the first day of this year, I found myself lying in the middle of my friend’s bedroom floor weeping and wailing. I was in such a low place at that moment that I couldn’t even see my way up or out. Thank God for friends who know how to pray.
Less than a month later I was well on my way to writing and releasing my first published book. I shut myself out from the world, I prayed, I fasted, and I trusted God. And on May 10, 2014 I released “I’m T.O.U.G.H.!” Books were selling out. News broadcast and television shows were being recorded. Radio interviews were being conducted. Conference calls were being joined to hear my testimony. Speaking engagements and vending opportunities were being booked. And I was soaring on cloud 9,999! I thought to myself, “God you are really showing out!” This was more than I could have ever thought of or even imagined.
Now I’ve been taught right so as my life began to take off, I didn’t get the big head. I didn’t start to think it was all about me. I never stopped acknowledging that this was God’s doing and not that of my own. My team was strong. I had genuine, authentic people surrounding me that only wanted God’s absolute best for me. What could possibly go wrong?
During this time I made a crucial mistake. I let my spiritual guard down. Somewhere in all of the success, I didn’t guard myself spiritually (praying, fasting, spending quality time with God) like I know to do. One thing I’ve learned is that all the enemy needs is a crack or a crevice and he will swindle his way right on in. And that is exactly what he did. The moment that I stopped feeding my spirit like it was used to being fed, my flesh instantly began to gain power. I started entertaining things that I never would have entertained. I started allowing thoughts to linger in my mind that I know didn’t belong. I began lending my ear to conversations that I knew I had no place in. I started engaging people that I knew their presence in my life would not produce any good fruit.
So after all of that, less than 4 months after the release of the book, I found myself in one of the lowest and darkest places that I’d ever been in in my life. Here I was, a minister in training, an author, working diligently in and for my church, a teacher, and a role model, and I was ready to walk away from it all. I didn’t feel T.O.U.G.H.! I’d gotten myself into a super messy situation and I had no idea how in the world to get out. I felt like I was in quick sand and I was sinking and I almost had stopped even trying to escape. I didn’t really want to talk about the book. I stopped promoting it and I didn’t feel worthy to stand behind it. How could I tell others to be T.O.U.G.H. when my life was in shambles? I was scared of the path I was on. The people closest to me were concerned, but I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together.
I finally broke down and went to my Pastor, whom I’d been purposely avoiding. As I began to tell her what was really going on, like a mother, she began to correct me. As I sat there sobbing in her office, she told me to go home and read MY book, the one that I wrote. The next few days were extremely rough. I read messages in my book such as “When Moving Forward is Too Risky, but Going Back is Too Costly” and “The Blessedness in Brokenness.” And after a nice long, ugly crying session at the altar, I felt like getting back up and fighting. For the first time in months, I felt T.O.U.G.H.! As I continued to read “I’m T.O.U.G.H., I thought to myself, “Look at how God works. He provided the answer (the book) long before the problem was a problem.” That’s so typical of God, always preparing for what’s ahead.
All of this brings me to this place. I’m dead smack in the middle of a major comeback! My success fooled me in a sense that it had me thinking I was more spiritually mature than I really was. This setback has shown me areas in which I still have to grow up. It has revealed some things in me that I never knew were there, and now that I know what is really inside of me, I can allow God to really work it out of me. In essence, my setback has taught me more than it took from me. This setback did not define me. It was not my final destination. I’m back in the fight! There is too much that God has placed in me that His people and His Kingdom needs for me to lay down and die in this place. If the devil laughed at my setback, his skin is going to crawl at this comeback. I’m back in the fight and I’m feeling T.O.U.G.H.er than ever. I’m ever so grateful to God because He never changed His mind about me nor the work that He set aside for me to do.
So thank you all for taking this journey with me. This blog will not be “a “tell all”, but prayerfully, it will help me and you realize that we are T.O.U.G.H. ENOUGH to handle whatever life may throw at us. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Love you all!