8/27/2015 0 Comments
Starting in Last Place
So for those of you that don’t know, I started law school a few days ago. Everybody was happy about it & proud of me…except me (pretty important piece missing, huh?). I wasn’t happy about starting law school. I wasn’t excited about one class. I wasn’t looking forward to anything but graduation...which I wouldn’t get without suffering through the first day (and every other day in between). I wasn’t excited about law school for a few reasons. First of all, everybody was giving me horror stories about how terrible it was & how classes would go (apparently, I won't breathe for 3 years). More importantly, I wasn’t looking forward to starting law school because I was behind. I’m at a private institution surrounded by people who are like….5th generation lawyers (literally FIFTH!!!), while I only knew one attorney. While at orientation, people were asking about how to survive the Socratic method, and I was sitting there trying to figure out what that even means, and why it’s so terrible. I felt like everybody around me knew so much more than I did. They sounded sooooo prepared (or at least conscious of what’s ahead). People were asking about things I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t realize until a few days before classes started that I had major reading assignments due the first day (about 80 pages..80!!!). This, of course happens when I don’t have the $1400 to pay for books. On top of the first week being rough because it’s the first week of law school, I have the added burden of preparing to move into my apartment at the end of the week, so I need the resources for that as well. To summarize the tragedy entitled ‘Valencia’s Life After UT’: I haven’t had a coach/mentor throughout this entire “get to law school” journey, so I did a lot of stuff wrong…and late. Therefore, I started out my new journey….feeling like I’m already in last place.
I had a lot of stuff to complain about. I haven’t had a decent amount of sleep in at least a week. I didn’t know if financial aid would have a heart and get my rent money to me in time. I had NO idea as to what I was doing. I don’t have books. I don’t have time to read prep books. I don’t know anybody here. I have a solid hour commute (thanks traffic) to class everyday until I move in. I have more pages to read for the week than I do minutes in a day. I don’t have the connections. I don’t have the knowledge. I don’t know the system or how classes are even ran here. I don’t…I don’t…I don’t. Have you ever been there? The place in life where you have soooooo many negatives that you can’t even think about the positives in your life? In math, multiplying two negatives makes a positive (I think…never liked math lol). Life doesn’t seem to work like that all the time. Sometimes negatives multiply and make….more negatives. So I did what any church person would tell you to do: I prayed about it. I took my cares to the Almighty, loving, caring, gracious God our Father (*cue sweet angelic chorus*)….and He ripped me to shreds like I was a kid in boot camp.
I went to God for a comforting, soft, encouraging speech, & He told me that my problem lied in the fact that I’m so focused on how I’m starting that I lay down and allow that to dictate how I finish. No, it didn’t work out the way that I wanted it to, but does that mean that I wont succeed here? Only if I let the story end that way. The problem in letting day one determine how you feel about day 365 is the fact that day one can really suck. Sometimes, ‘day one’ is your significant other cheating on you or breaking up with you. Sometimes ‘day one’ is you losing a lifetime friend or another loved one. Sometimes, ‘day one’ is you not even realizing that the race has started while everybody else is moving down the track. Seeing as nobody knows everything, there will be moments that you start at a deficit. There’s actually not much wrong with starting at a deficit; it makes for a really great story (congrats, your life is officially movie material lol). The defeat only begins when you lie down & place the sheet over yourself. God wouldn’t put you through any of this if He hadn’t already placed inside of you the strength, peace, & joy necessary to come out on top. So before you take a bad ending as a foreshadowing of a terrible ending, ask yourself how do you want the story to end. More importantly, how does God want this story to end? Do you really think He’d put you in this position…to watch you lose? (Look at your neighbor & say “or nah!” Lol)
I was reading Romans 8:28 one day, & I noticed that it said “for we know…”. I’ve heard that verse all of my life. I’ve quoted it for years…and never really recognized the depth in that phrase (that’s a church kid for you, huh? Reciting the whole Bible…w/o the slightest bit of revelation haha). If I know something, it’s in my mind. It should impact my actions (when we know better, we do better). It becomes apart of me. If I know that I have value and purpose, I won’t let others dictate who I am (especially if I fought for that confidence). If I know something, it’s not just a point of consideration, nor is it a possibility. It’s certain. It’s been proven. It holds weight in my mind and in my life. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, which tells me that even your mistakes have to pair up with God’s purpose and place you on the winning side. I’ve learned that complaining is easy. All you really have to do is look at the chaos that’s happening in your life, and state what you see. However, I want to challenge you, and I even want to challenge myself, to allow God to paint a masterpiece…with some ugly colors. Don’t tell me what you see. Don’t tell me what you think. Don’t tell me what you heard. You don’t even have to tell me what all has happened right now. All I want you to do is tell me what you know. Your response tells me how you expect this story to end. Your response shows me if your faith is at work.
Now, this in no way means that you should ignore whatever is happening in your life, sit back in a recliner, & say “for we know all things work together” with a smile on your face…without any work. If you’re going to get God’s promise, you’ve got to do the work He tells you to do. It also doesn’t mean that you should just quote this verse anytime somebody asks you what’s happening. For some people (*raises hand*) that’s not always possible, because it can feel...fake...or foolish. Here’s a secret God gave me: watch your words. If you find yourself complaining, follow that up with a reminder that God still has your back. Instead of just saying “MY LIFE IS TERRIBLE! I’M IN SO MUCH PAIN!!!”, say “it’s nowhere near what I wanted, and it really hurts, but He’s with me even in the deepest of valleys”. You may be in pain, but He's still got healing power. You may be down now, but you won't down forever. The miracle didn't happen today, but you're one day closer to it. Follow each complaint up with a reminder of what God can do. Sometimes, you’ve got to sit down & remind yourself of the God that kept you in the past. The words that you speak can weaken your mind, and your mind is where the battle is. There’s a war over your perspective and who/what you’ll put your trust in. Whatever you put out will only feed what’s already in there. So it may be time to do some spring, well summer, cleaning on how you think and how you view yourself in this struggle. After all, that’s the major indicator of how you’ll finish. It’s not how you started; it’s how you think and what you speak.
P…S….AND EVERY A: this fight is going to take consistency. I love football, so I’m going to use that as an example, k? What I reallllly hate…well despise (church people aren’t supposed to hate, right?) is watching a team do their best work in the first quarter….and not put forth that same effort in the second, third, and fourth quarters. THEN, people are always surprised or mad that they lost! How?! Whyyyy?!!! They set a standard that they couldn’t keep, and are shocked that they didn’t come out on top? But, don't we do that in church now? I've noticed that people will shout every ounce of makeup off of their faces, and run three miles around the church (one for the Father, Son, & Holy Ghost)….and are ready to quit by Tuesday. I've been in that situation, so I know that it happens more often than most will ever tell. I’ve heard a word about breakthrough or something, gave God my good praise (it goes down in ANY of my apts lol)…and seemingly forgot about it days later. We go to church, take all of these notes, tweet every word the pastor says…and don’t apply a thing. The issue with that is that there’s no consistency. Could that be why you aren’t delivered yet? Is that possibly (just possibly) the reason that your breakthrough hasn’t happened? Are you inconsistent (or impatient for that matter)? If you’re going to get to the other side of this mountain, you’ve got to be consistent. Your prayer life has got to be more consistent. Your attitude has got to be more consistent. You’ve got to consistently depend on God. Your praise has got to be consistent. Your faith has got to be more consistent. So regardless of how it looks, your words of faith can’t change. If your words change, you’ll eventually change, for better or worse. Your breakthrough relies on your consistency! Do you want it bad enough…to be consistent?
Now, I’m not going to hold you to some standard I can't even meet. Everybody reading this is human. Therefore, we’ll all have weak moments. There may be times when you wonder where God is & what you did to turn Him away. There may even be moments when your pain increases instead of decreases, and you may fall short. I believe that grace exists for this, and that God is faithful even when we’re faithless, BUT I also don’t think that we should abuse His grace and try to use it as a way out of what He’s called us to.
I’ve got one more tidbit, & then we’ll sing the benediction song & go about our various days. Everything that I’ve said is easier when your confidence is in God, and not in yourself. I’ll be one of the first people to tell you that Valencia K. Campbell is a baaaaadddd woman, but I’ll also be the first to tell you that she got intimidated when she saw what all was in front of her. I’m going somewhere that nobody else in my family has ventured into before (in more ways than one), so I’m going to have to depend on The One who’s over everything & sees it all. You may not have other people do depend on for this journey. You may be the only consistent one. You may be stepping out on something without any guarantee that it wont fall from up under you. That’s scary. We’re all allowed to be scared. However, if you view this as you against the world, the world will always win. In numbers alone, you don't have the best of chances. The amazing thing is that we’re all also allowed to go to God for direction, comfort, and peace. Take a minute to really think about who God is. Take every church phrase you’ve ever heard about God (lily in the valley, etc), and think about how powerful He is. Those phrases are real, but they're only effective if you can see how they've been true in your life. His name has enough power in it to make your enemies fear you instead of it being the other way around. That’s just his name. I think we’re in a time where God is elevating His people…to increase their dependence on Him. If you’re in a new environment without any reference or past experience, it would be smart to go to a pro, right? We do it all the time. Well, God’s a pro of all pros in everything that ever existed (lol). So if you’re going to make it through this, you can’t have confidence in who you are or what you can do…you’ve got to have confidence in who God is, who He’s been to you, and in the fact that He IS for you! Therefore, you don’t have any real competition…because He doesn’t have any competition. It's not you against the world; it's you, the Creator of the world, against whoever/whatever has the unfortunate opportunity to suffer defeat. You may start in last place, but with God, you surely won't end there.
Background Music: I Am (Miracle) – Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy (I promise I’ll stop posting this album one day lol)
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